Cisco EMC and VMware announced a joint partnership called the Virtual Computing Environment Coalition (VCE) . The key goal of the VCE is to accelerate customer migration to virtualization and cloud infrastructures. The Virtual Computing Environment will accomplish this in four different ways.
VBlock Infrastructure Packages
VBlock infrastructure packages are pre-configured bundles that are sized to support specific workloads. These packages are available to run both on the customer site, as well as in a hosted (cloud) facility. If you have been listening to anything that has come out of VMware in the past couple years, it has been centered around the unification of private and public clouds. VBlock is a building block of this integrated cloud.
The VBlock infrastructure packages are offered in “bundles”. These bundles are numbered 0-2 at the time of writing.
VBlock 0 is an entry level package supporting 300-800 virtual machines. This is built on Cisco UCS, EMC Celerra Unified Storage, VMware vSphere and the Nexus 1000v.
VBlock 1 is a mid level package supporting 800 – 3000 virtual machines. This is built on Cisco UCS, Cisco MDS, EMC Clarion, VMware vSphere and the Nexus 1000V
Vblock 2 is a high end package supporting 3000 – 6000 virtual machines. This is buit on Cisco UCS, Cisco MDS, EMC Symmetrix V-Max, VMware vSphere and the Nexus 1000V
Integrated Pre-Sales, Service and Support – Fighting the skill silo
The defining factor in the successfully sales and deployment of virtualization infrastructure has been cross platform knowledge and experience. Storage, Network, and Virtualization vendors, as well as partners have struggled to attract and train engineering and sales forces with this cross functional skillset. Partners who have engineering teams with skills that cross these functional areas have seen success even in this down economy. Cisco EMC and VMware are smart enough to recognize this trend and have linked sales teams at the hips in engagements. Nothing makes this more apparent than John Chambers himself addressing Field Sales in the VCE webcast and requiring that these teams coordinate and act as one cohesive unit.
Cisco, EMC and VMware have jointly funded a venture called Acadia. This venture, initially staffed at 120 employees is charted with the development and validation of cross platform solutions. They are focused on a “build operate transfer” model for service providers and large enterprise customers. The target date for Acadia’s launch is Q1 2010.
This was my biggest worry about this release. Does Cisco, VMware and EMC funding Acadia mean that they are going to go direct and bypass their channel? The party line is no, that all three partners will still utilize the channel to sell and distribute the VBlocks. An interesting new twist however is that there is not one master partner certification to sell “validated” VBlock solutions. To participate a partner has to be certified at reasonably high levels with all three partners to have the ability to register and sell deals under the VBlock mantra.
What hasn’t been clearly answered is what happens when a workload is moved to the “cloud”. Does that go through the channel? What if that cloud infrastructure is built onsite but maintained by Acadia? It sounds like we have to wait till January 2010 to get that answer. In the end time will tell whether Cisco will hold true to the success they have found in the channel, or whether Cisco will end up in an MBA case study of what not to do.
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