Q&A: Cisco on servers, storage and strategy

We chat with Laurent Blanchard, Cisco's vice president of enterprise, to ask why IT should get excited about what the networking giant can offer.

For anyone who's been watching Cisco's development over the past few years, they'll know the company went through a somewhat chaotic period in 2010 and 2011.

In a bid to galvanise investor confidence, the company distanced itself from the consumer sphere, streamlined operations and went back to focusing on the enterprise.

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This translated into the death of Flip cameras and umi home videoconferencing, job losses and greater embracing of technologies tied to the network.

Three years ago, no one would have believed Cisco would play a role in the server market.

We caught up with Laurent Blanchard, the networking giant's vice president of enterprise, at this year's Cisco Live event to ask why IT departments should get excited about Cisco again.

Cisco is still fairly new to the server space, having only entered the market with UCS (Unified Computing and Servers) a few years back. What can you say to IT departments to convince them Cisco is a worthy contender in this industry?

I'm not here to convince you if you are not ready to be convinced but I'm going to give my point of view.

Three years ago, no one would have believed Cisco would play a role in the server market. Actually, what we did was apply our knowledge of driving a huge amount of data through something the network into a server. We redesigned a server from scratch. When you have a legacy of many years, it is very difficult to do this. But the structure of the UCS is new from the design perspective.

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In two years, we have just signed the 10,000th UCS customer. Who would have though that we would do that three years ago?

We can differentiate ourselves and the market is actually accepting it very well.

What about bringing in more storage capabilities? Is that something Cisco will do in the future rather than just partnering?

When you look at what is happening, people are moving to the cloud and we've found that there are three levels of services for infrastructure that have to be provided: compute, storage and network.

We believe we have a very strong knowledge of servers, we have 25 years+ in the network and today we believe in storage we are better off partnering with very big companies such as EMC.

We work with NetApp and we work with others as well. We have building blocks together with NetApp in the same way we have with EMC. You can say one is larger than the other one but our approach in the cloud is to drive and to work in an ecosystem.

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