Cisco and Magirus hook up to sell complete virtual platform

IT managers can purchase a complete virtual platform through a Magirus VAR, thanks to a new partnership with Cisco.

European IT managers can now purchase a fully configured virtual platform, including virtualisation, storage,servers and networking, through a Magirus reseller.

Magirus has become a Cisco Specialty Data Centre distributor. Partnering with VMware, EMC and now Cisco, Magirus' channel of 6,000 VARs can take the complexities out of architecting a virtual platform by constructing it for the IT manager, the firm claims.

We now have three ingredients in our unified data centre recipe.

Denise Bryant, UK country manager, Magirus,

Christian Magirus, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Magirus, said its VARs and their customers now have the opportunity "to evolve from capital-intensive, premise-based data centres to hybrid models involving a combination of physical, virtualised and private cloud computing."

Dave Boswell, director of infrastructure and support for corporate IT at Reed Exhibitions, welcomed the news, but said he would still like to be involved in the construction of the virtual platform.

"This is a great idea and will save a lot of time, but once the platform is finished and delivered, it will be maintained by my team of guys. They need to know how the thing was put together and how to fix things it if breaks," he said.

Boswell added: "It's the same as Dell taking its servers and installing an operating system and software for you -- it may still need some tweaking to suit your company's requirements. This strategy sounds like it will satisfy a good proportion of data centre requirements though."

He said a specialist vendor may still be required to add features such as security elements and improvements to the quality of service demanded by different businesses.

Data centre focus,
Under the terms of the agreement, Magirus will distribute the vendor's entire portfolio; however, several data centre products will be the distributor's main focus.

These products include:

• Cisco Nexus range of switches for LAN and SAN connectivity

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) range of blade and rack-mounted servers

• Application Networking Services Cisco (ANS), which includes Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) and Application Control Engine (ACE) products

• Cisco Multilayer Director Switches (MDS), to bridge traditional SANs and unified Nexus switches for migrating to unified data centres

Magirus U.K. country manager Denise Bryant said the Cisco partnership means the distributor can provide a cohesive virtual platform offering for IT managers, encompassing virtualisation through VMware, storage through EMC and servers and switches through Cisco.

For example, on the virtualisation side of things, a Cisco Blade B Series server can create an estimated 1,000 VMs. To make it work, however, you need to install shared storage (an EMC Clarion, for instance). This will be connected to the B Series along with Cisco switches such as the Nexus. The IT manager can come and view the finished virtual platform before it is placed on their data centre's floor.

"We now have three ingredients in our unified data centre recipe," said Bryant.

According to Bryant, data centre managers are welcome at the distributor's European Technology Logistics Centre in Strasbourg, France. At this assembly centre, Magirus architects and resellers can be found designing, configuring and assembling unified data centre products prior to shipment.

Open to all Magirus resellers, the facility aims to speed up shipment times. Instead of estimating a shipping time of 6-8 weeks, the VAR claims it can give its customer an exact date, according to Bryant.

She added: "The reseller does not necessarily need to be present at the centre, as Magirus has its own architects there, which means the virtual platform solution will reach the IT manager faster."

Dominique Vanhamme, head of European distribution and resellers, worldwide channels at Cisco, said the vendor wanted "a new level of experience" for the IT manager.

"Cisco has focused a lot on improving the performance of its technology, but this partnership is all about improving the data centre experience for those that utilise them and for those that are looking to manage complex products in complex data centres," he said.

This strategy sounds like it will satisfy a good proportion of data centre requirements

Dave Boswell, director of infrastructure and support for corporate IT at Reed Exhibitions,

Vanhamme said the data centre products Cisco and Magirus have chosen to focus on are designed to fit together as a one-stop-shop virtual platform for the VAR and its customers: "Normally an IT manager would have to go to several vendors for Fibre Channel (FC) switching, virtualisation components, and a unified fabric, for example. All this is now in one Cisco blueprint," he said.

New European data centre division for Magirus
To coincide with its unified data centre announcement, Magirus has also brought about an internal shake up by blending all sales teams into one united sales force and creating a new European Data Centre Division. This will be an extension of Magirus' existing Secure Networking Division and aims to improve communications between VARs and technical customers that want a full virtual platform of products.

Previously, Magirus had a team for virtualisation and another team for storage. Now with Cisco's servers and switches in the mix, Bryant said creating yet another separate team, when full solutions encompassing all three areas are being sold, did not make sense.

In total, the distributor will have 18 sales and marketing U.K. staff on the combined team. The company plans to hire 40 new positions across Europe over the next 12 months and to increase its VAR base by 300.

Cloud computing future
Christian Magirus also revealed that this new unified data centre strategy will eventually extend to external cloud solutions where computing becomes a utility.

After Magirus sold off its HP and IBM business to rival Avnet in July 2007, the distributor said it wanted to focus on virtualisation, security and its EMC business.

Keith Humphries, managing consultant at analyst EuroLAN, said this is a bold and confident move from Magirus to get back into the data centre space and line itself up for a possible future shift into the cloud market.

"When Magirus sold of its IBM and HP arm to Avnet, it lost the data centre element of its business. Now it is back with a simplified virtual platform offering, for its VARs and European IT managers, made possible through non-competing vendors in this particular space," said Humphries.

Kayleigh Bateman is the Site Editor for

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