… Most customers can’t afford that status quo, where the majority of their expenditures go into keeping the lights on versus innovation. It really comes down to the CIO’s desire to enable their business strategy rather than a cost center. …
This is how Cisco’s John Chambers portrayed today’s VCE announcement during the joint webcast with EMC’s Joe Tucci and VMware’s Paul Maritz. What Chambers was describing was the Private Cloud. While only time will tell if VCE will be the tipping point of Private Clouds, today’s announcement was clearing laying out a destination for IT over the next few years.
What is VCE?
Rather than repeating all the details that have been provided elsewhere, the cliff notes summary is that VCE is a partnership between Cisco, EMC, and VMware. By combining Cisco UCS server hardware and networking with EMC storage and management VCE creates a certified and supported data center solution to enable turnkey virtualized data centers running VMware vSphere on Cisco and EMC hardware components. Along with the partnership, a new corporate entity called Acadia was announced to provide solution services under a separate entity from the primary stake holders of Cisco and EMC with participation from Intel and VMware.
Here is a list of others talking in more detail about VCE Coalition (I’ll try to update this over the next few days as well):
- For high level details of VCE, see the press releases of Cisco, EMC, and VMware.
- EMC’s Chuck Hollis has a set of blog postings Announcing the VCE Coalition, Introducing PrivateCloud.com, Introducing Acadia, and talking about what’s Behind the vBlock.
- EMC’s Chad Sakac has an insider’s view of the Virtual Compute Environment along with individual posts about each of the 4 parts of the announcement (toward the end of his post).
- Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) released a company brief on how Cisco, EMC and VMware to Accelerate Large Scale Virtualization Deployments.
- A different view of the announcement from the application development side of IT on Capgemini’s CTO Blog.
- The Register reviews today’s announcement and discusses Inside Acadia.
- NetApp’s CMO Jay Kidd provides his take on the Importance of Being Open in response to the VCE announcement. (gotta love the competitive jabs and punches in the blog-o-sphere!)
All of this private cloud chatter just a day after Gartner predicts cloud computing spend to take off. Should be interesting to watch Cisco announce their Q1FY2010 earnings tomorrow…
Why Do I Think Enterprises Should Care about VCE?
Private clouds are a reality in the enterprises. I have clients who are either mid-project of building a private cloud or deep in the architecture and planning for their private clouds. The simple reason being that they know they need a fully virtualized, self service environment to respond to their internal business customer’s needs. The stories of business groups being told it would take a year or more to deploy their new application environments are true. Some times this is due to lack of data center space or capacity (that seems to be the pandemic spreading quicker than swine flu), sometimes due to lack of human resources in today’s recession recovering economy, sometimes a combination of both.
Virtualization is the key to the data center capacity pandemic facing many enterprises. But just layering virtualization on top of the existing data center is like providing some Tamiflu to someone who is sick with the flu. It may help them get better over time, but not over night. There are still data center designs which don’t take into consideration the ramifications of virtualization. I have clients who have plenty of extra floor space in their data center, but not enough power, or backup generator capacity, or floors that aren’t strong enough to support a storage array needed to fill the empty space with virtual computing infrastructure.
On top of that, virtualization with the legacy process in place don’t allow IT to respond to customers needs at the speed of business. This is where private clouds with automated management and self-service provisioning capability come into play. Take that low hanging visualization fruit and let the users feed themselves. Providing internet cloud capabilities in the enterprise data center for web apps and basic services is just the start. Once you start providing that self service capability for enterprise applications as well, now you’ve got something.
What I see VCE providing is the same building block approach that Amazon, Google, and Yahoo have each individually custom built for their own data centers, but in a packaged, tested, and supported format from trusted infrastructure vendors. Now any Enterprise, big or small, has the ability to run their data center in an automated fashion using virtualization and hardware solutions purpose built for the task. Enterprises are risk adverse in their IT departments, so having Cisco, EMC, and VMware standing behind the solution with a independent services and support group in Acadia, will help ease concerns. And with the enterprise sales forces of both Cisco and EMC selling VCE solutions, access into the key decisions makers in Enterprises is there.
It’s easy in the early days of a partnership like this to show how all of this is nothing new, and in many ways true statements. So the additional details that come out over the new few quarters will be important. And the amount of traction that VCE has over that same time still needs to be seen. But I see the foundation that is presented in VCE, as well as the potential that is there for the near future, as helping many enterprises solve the data center challenges facing them today as well as help enterprises break through that 30% virtualization barrier.
And What Impact Do I See to VMware?
I have seen various discussion today debating whether the VCE coalition is a good or bad thing for VMware. Scott Lowe, for example, raised some interesting questions on the impact of VCE on VMware which sprouted some interesting discussions. But over all, today’s VCE announcement was largely Cisco and EMC with support from VMware. VMware’s partnerships with other hardware vendor’s and solution providers are still in full force. If down the road the VCE coalition starts to show high numbers of VMware enableed servers shipped than other hardware vendors, there is nothing that prevents those other vendors form creating similar partnerships that include VMware.
In the end, it comes down to the same thing as always…market demand. If the enterprise customers demand a fully integrated virtual data center solution, then more and more of the enterprise vendors will need to start offering them to remain competitive. As The Register pointed out, right now it’s a two vendor story: VCE and HP…and both include VMware.
And will VCE/Acadia be the tipping point for Private Clouds? We’ll have to look back in a few years and find out. But between now and then we’re all in for an interesting ride in IT-land.