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Cisco, EMC data center coalition feels on solid ground

Jim Duffy | Feb. 28, 2013
There's been a lot of speculation on what the future holds for VCE, the converged data center infrastructure coalition formed by Cisco, EMC and VMware, in light of recent maneuvers by those companies to become more competitive and less reliant on each other in the marketplace, and with the advent of software-defined networking.

Layton: Lock-in is more of a perception than reality. We interface into non-investor company environments. We do not require connectivity into investor company products or environments. We support bare metal OSs and other hypervisors. But our support for investor company technology is better than anyone else can provide. We can guarantee a performance experience for the VMware environment but assure the customers that the Vblock is functioning properly when running another hypervisor or OS that's not our responsibility with the investor companies to support. That's been a model of Vblock systems since Day One and is something that is misunderstood. We have 300 million configuration options with new products and enhancements announced Feb. 21.

Gartner says the integrated reference architecture approach, like that marketed by Cisco and NetApp, offers the same benefits as integrated infrastructure, yet allows greater flexibility since the system can be built from best-of-breed components. How do you convince a prospective customer to opt for VBlock vs. FlexPod?

Layton: A reference architecture is a guideline of how you might interconnect components together. The engineering integration (inherent in Vblock) provides quality that a customer is going to have to learn through trial and error by their own choices of implementation - types of racks, types of cables, and ways in which components are interconnected and logically configured to communicate with each other. This causes IT to be so expensive to manage today. We are trying to materially impact the operational cost of infrastructure. Our customers are seeing that in real time and that's causing them to reinvest in Vblock systems because of that TCO and predictable performance, and not the trial and error experience of a reference architecture.

Akkiraju: Level of integration is fundamentally different than any competitors could provide. We are based on best-of-breed components and we have the opportunity to leverage $20 billion+ of R&D that Cisco, EMC and VMware put into network, compute, storage, server and virtualization. The biggest asset that VCE has is our people, our engineers. That's how we will continue to innovate and differentiate Vblock from any other offerings in the market.

Do you plan to branch out into the integrated reference architecture space in order to expand your addressable market?

Akkiraju: The cardinal foundation of VCE is our customer experience. More and more workloads are moving onto these converged infrastructure deployments. We will not be going down the reference architecture path. We will take our value proposition and bring it downstream to the marketplace so we can continue to differentiate ourselves with innovation and the customer experience. The last two quarters of 2012 were the highest financial quarters for us as a company.


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