It's been said that the nature of virtualization and the cloud rests on multivendor environments. Far from one vendor gaining the ability to deliver unified, end-to-end environments, the real genius will come from integrating one's platform into a much broader universe.
Of course, it helps when vendors willingly come to the table first, sparing enterprises the time and expense of integrating systems on a piecemeal basis. However, such broad agreements tend to be few and far between, leaving enterprises with a messy patchwork of integrated, semi-integrated and marginally effective solutions that must be cobbled together on the fly.
So it's welcome news that leading firms like Microsoft, Cisco and NetApp are joining forces to foster integrated virtual and cloud environments. Under Microsoft's Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track program, these and other vendors are piecing together the infrastructure that should make it easier for enterprises to build and maintain increasingly complex environments.
A key partner in the program is Cisco, which has offered up reference architectures for its Unified Computing System and has added UCS validation for SQL Server online transactional processing. The pair is designed to improve online warehousing and transaction capabilities for C-Series server users. Note, though, that Cisco's embrace of multivendor environments does not extend to the network.
That last point applies to other members of the program as well. Remember, this is not an open systems consortium, but a partnership aimed at building an integrated cloud environment - something that can more effectively compete against EMC/VMware. By uniting server, storage, networking and virtualization, the hope is that consortiums of this type can cut into enough of the cloud market so it is not dominated by single vendors as we saw with virtualization and, ironically, the operating system.
The free market may take its cues from the animal kingdom where "survival of the fittest" rules, but that does not mean a healthy dose of intra- and inter-species cooperation is not warranted from time to time. Building cloud architectures is tough enough without having to endure months of integration testing and troubleshooting.
If the top vendors really want to make a profit on cloud computing, it only makes sense for them to take care of the hard stuff before their products are shipped out the door.