Cisco’s Flash Storage Buy. One Road Leads to Riches, One to Hell. Which is it Taking?

I’ve been mulling over Cisco’s $415m buy of flash storage company Whiptail.  The goal seems to be integrating flash storage of “hot” (frequently accessed) into Cisco’s UCS server.  This could be a great idea or a stupid one.  I worry its another stupid one.

  • Road to Hell:   If this is further pursuit of the “cloud” will’o the wisp, this is good money after bad.  The cloud computing market is and always will be inherently lousy – selling low margin gear to demanding, miserly customers.  See my recent post Why the “Winners” In Cloud Infrastucture Will Be Financial Losers.
  • Road to Riches:   If this enables further development of Cisco’s UCS as a general purpose campus compute platform, its a great idea.  It is clear (too me) that Cisco’s best growth opportunities lie inside the corporate campus, not out in the cloud.  In particular, Cisco seems best positioned to usher in the post-PC era on corporate desktops.  Corporate buyers are desperate to get away from maintaining PC’s on every desktop, but haven’t yet found a workable alternative.  Cisco’s UCS server platform could/should be set up to provide that alternative.

My gut tells me Cisco is still chasing the cloud dream down the road to Hell.  The road to riches seems to be clearer to me than it is to Cisco.   I’ll be writing more on this theme going forward, if only to vent my frustration over Cisco’s strategic drift.

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