Cisco Systems' Unified Computing System, a new data center technology which is made up of Cisco's own blades, chassis, fabric interconnect, management software, fabric extender, and network adapters, may well shake things up a bit. The all-in-one package brings virtualization together with the whole package, and may give some serious competition to the likes of IBM and HP. This may also come at a bad time for Sun, currently rumored to be in negotiations for an IBM buyout.
It's a bit of a new market for Cisco, but the company definitely has the cash and the brand awareness to make this new direction work for them. To be sure, it's a long-term strategic play, which is a bit of a challenge in this economy, but if they do it right, Cisco will come out way ahead on the other end of the recession--even ahead of the theoretical IBM/Sun behemoth.
Channel partners, on the other hand, are thinking short-term because of the economy these days, so there won't be very many Cisco VARs that will get any benefit, at least not right away. the new offering will be targeted at only some of the largest enterprise customers through a small group of VARs. Assuming Cisco comes to be accepted in this market, enterprises will get the benefit of lower operational and capital expenditures by deploying the system. Two or three years down the road, it may spread out into the mid market and SaaS/cloud computing service providers.
In the long run, Cisco does have some plans to expand the offering, and offer two new certifications for data center architects and engineers.