There's always a gap between what's theoretically interesting from an IT perspective versus what the market actually accepts. While just about everybody agrees that there will be some form of consolidation in the data center involving the management of servers, storage and networking, no one is exactly sure what pace the consolidation is on.
Against that backdrop, however, it's interesting to see the server market share numbers being put up by Cisco, which according to International Data Corp., now holds the number three slot in x86 server market share.
When you talk to one of Cisco's Unified Computing Systems (UCS) customers, it becomes apparent that much of the appeal for Cisco servers is tied to the maturity of the IT organization. According to Steven Senecal, manager of global server engineering for Travelport, a provider of travel services, Travelport has been actively working to increase the collaboration across its server, storage and networking teams even before Cisco UCS came along. Given that Cisco UCS met all the performance requirements, the fact that various internal IT specialists could more effectively collaborate made Cisco UCS a natural choice for Travelport.
To what degree that collaboration, coupled with advances in IT automation, will lead to any further restructuring of responsibilities within the Travelport IT department remains to be seen. But what is certain is that workflow within the IT organization will continue to evolve with an eye towards reducing the total cost of managing its x86 environment.
No matter how you calculate the cost of IT, labor is still the most expensive component. Unfortunately, much of that labor is associated with manual tasks that should have long since been automated. Whether it requires new servers or vendors to solve this problem is up to the individual IT organizations involved. But based on the Cisco market share numbers, it's at least heartening to see that it looks like the number of IT organizations starting to move in that direction is increasing.