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The UFC and UCS: Cisco Is Brock Lesnar

Lesnar vs. Mir...My favorite sport is mixed martial arts (MMA.)

MMA is a combination of various arts and features athletes who come from a variety of backgrounds and combine many disciplines that they bring to the the ring.  

You’ve got wrestlers, boxers, kickboxers, muay thai practitioners, jiu jitsu artists, judoka, grapplers, freestyle fighters and even the odd karate kid.

Mixed martial artists are often better versed in one style/discipline than another given their strengths and background but as the sport has evolved, not being well-rounded means you run the risk of being overwhelmed when paired against an opponent who can knock you out, take you down, ground and pound you, submit you or wrestle/grind you into oblivion.  

The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is an organization which has driven the popularity and mainstream adoption of MMA as a recognizable and sanctioned sport and has given rise to some of the most notable MMA match-ups in recent history.

One of those match-ups included the introduction of Brock Lesnar — an extremely popular “professional” wrestler — who has made the  transition to MMA.  It should be noted that Brock Lesnar is an aberration of nature.  He is an absolute monster:  6′3″ and 276 pounds.  He is literally a wall of muscle, a veritable 800 pound gorilla.

In his first match, he was paired up against a veteran in MMA and former heavyweight champion, Frank Mir, who is an amazing grappler known for vicious submissions.  In fact, he submitted Lesnar with a nasty kneebar as Lesnar’s ground game had not yet evolved.  This is simply part of the process.  Lesnar’s second fight was against another veteran, Heath Herring, who he manhandled to victory.  Following the Herring fight, Lesnar went on to fight one of the legends of the sport and reigning heavyweight champion, Randy Couture.  

Lesnar’s skills had obviously progressed and he looked great against Couture and ultimately won by a TKO.

So what the hell does the UFC have to do with the Unified Computing System (UCS?)

Cisco UCS Components

Cisco UCS Components

 

Cisco is to UCS as Lesnar is to the UFC.

Everyone wrote Lesnar off after he entered the MMA world and especially after the first stumble against an industry veteran.

Imagine the surprise when his mass, athleticism, strength, intelligence and tenacity combined with a well-versed strategy paid off as he’s become an incredible force to be reckoned with in the MMA world as his skills progressed.  Oh, did I mention that he’s the World Heavyweight Champion now?

Cisco comes to the (datacenter) cage much as Lesnar did; an 800 pound gorilla incredibly well-versed in one  set of disciplines, looking to expand into others and become just as versatile and skilled in a remarkably short period of time.  Cisco comes to win, not compete. Yes, Lesnar stumbled in his first outing.  Now he’s the World Heavyweight Champion.  Cisco will have their hiccups, too.

The first elements of UCS have emerged.  The solution suite with the help of partners will refine the strategy and broaden the offerings into a much more well-rounded approach.  Some of Cisco’s competitors who are bristling at Cisco’s UCS vision/strategy are quick to criticize them and reduce UCS to simply an ill-executed move “…entering the server market.”  

I’ve stated my opinions on this short-sighted perspective:

Yes, yes. We’ve talked about this before here. Cisco is introducing a blade chassis that includes compute capabilities (heretofore referred to as a ‘blade server.’)  It also includes networking, storage and virtualization all wrapped up in a tidy bundle.

So while that looks like a blade server (quack!,) walks like a blade server (quack! quack!) that doesn’t mean it’s going to be positioned, talked about or sold like a blade server (quack! quack! quack!)
What’s my point?  What Cisco is building is just another building block of virtualized INFRASTRUCTURE. Necessary infrastructure to ensure control and relevance as their customers’ networks morph.

My point is that what Cisco is building is the natural by-product of converged technologies with an approach that deserves attention.  It *is* unified computing.  It’s a solution that includes integrated capabilities that otherwise customers would be responsible for piecing together themselves…and that’s one of the biggest problems we have with disruptive innovation today: integration.

 

The knee-jerk dismissals witnessed since yesterday by the competition downplaying the impact of UCS are very similar to how many people reacted to Lesnar wherein they suggested he was one dimensional and had no core competencies beyond wrestling, discounting his ability to rapidly improve and overwhelm the competition.  

Everyone seems to be focused on the 5100 — the “blade server” — and not the solution suite of which it is a single piece; a piece of a very innovative ecosystem, some Cisco, some not.  Don’t get lost in the “but it’s just a blade server and HP/IBM/Dell can do that” diatribe.  It’s the bigger picture that counts.

The 5100 is simply that — one very important piece of the evolving palette of tools which offer the promise of an integrated solution to a radically complex set of problems.

Is it complete?  Is it perfect?  Do we have all the details? Can they pull it off themselves?  The answer right now is a simple “No.”  But it doesn’t have to be.  It never has.

There’s a lot of work to do, but much like a training camp for MMA, that’s why you bring in the best partners with which to train and improve and ultimately you get to the next level.

All I know is that I’d hate to be in the Octagon with Cisco just like I would with Lesnar.

/Hoff

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More Stories By Christofer Hoff

Christofer Hoff is Director, Cloud & Virtualization Solutions, Data Center Solutions at Cisco Systems at Cisco. He has over 15 years of experience in high-profile global roles in network and information security architecture, engineering, operations and management with a passion for virtualization and all things Cloud. Prior to Cisco, Hoff was Unisys Corporation's S&T Division Chief Security Architect, served as Crossbeam Systems' chief security strategist, was the CISO for a $25 billion financial services company and was founder/CTO of a national security consultancy. He blogs at www.rationalsurvivability.com/blog.

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