Networking giant Cisco is looking at the rapid growth in demand for cloud computing services as an opportunity to corner the second-highest slot in the blade server market globally.
Cisco had forayed into the blade server space about two years ago with its Unified Computing System (UCS) and is currently the third-largest player globally, after HP and IBM.
"Over the last 12 months, our market share has ramped up. We are now placed third globally. In fact, we are in sitting distance of being the number two as far as the blade server market is concerned," Cisco Senior Vice-President (Data Centre, Virtualisation and Cloud Business) Rajesh Rege told PTI.
A blade server is a compact, low power-consumption server deployed at data centres.
According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker for November, 2011, blade servers -- including x86, EPIC and RISC blades -- account for $2 billion in revenues, representing 16% of quarterly server market revenue. About 89% of all blade revenue is driven by x86-based blades.
"UCS is a data centre platform that unites computing, networking, storage access and virtualisation into a cohesive system. Globally, UCS is the fastest growing segment for Cisco and the total number of UCS customers as of April, 2011, stands at 5,400," he said.
HP remained the dominant player server blade market in Q3, 2011, with a 51% revenue share, followed by IBM with an 18.5% revenue share.
Cisco was third-largest, with 10% share, while Dell has 7.2%.
In India too, Cisco's UCS is gaining traction. The company has more than 500 customers of the system in India, of which 400 customers were added in the last 12-18 months, Rege added.
The size of the X86-based blade server market in India is about $35 to 40 million.
The adoption, he said, has been driven by features and functionalities that "we have built inside the USC".
"We have taken industry standard components. For example, for the processors, that are the heart of UCS, we have partnered with Intel. Cisco also brings in the advantage of deep understanding of networking," he added.
Some of Cisco's customers include HCL Technologies, Wipro and TCS. Other customers include telecom and banking sector clients.
"Service providers like HCL, Net Magic and Dimension Data, who are providing cloud-based services for SMEs across the country, use Cisco technology," Rege said.
USC, which is a building block for cloud computing technology, will remain a focus area for the networking giant.
"We are witnessing a paradigm shift in computing with the emergence of cloud. Virtually every business sector is betting big on cloud computing because it enables the end-user to only subscribe to a portion of technology that they want to use. They don't need to create a massive infrastructure," he said.
A study by EMC Corporation and Zinnov Management Consulting states that the size of the cloud market in India will reach $4.5 billion by 2015, compared to $400 million now.
"Cloud is a high growth market. We are looking at a cloud CAGR of about 65% over the next three years," he said.
Going forward, the company expects an increase in UCS sales across all the verticals, especially in the IT/ITes, banking, education, telecom and government sectors.
On Cisco's future strategy, Rege said, "Our strategy is basically to put together a range of products and technology that can enable cloud as well as create capacity and capability to deliver a number of services for implementation of cloud infrastructure."