On the heels of numerous VCE related announcements, discussions/discussions and demos/demos/demos/demos/demos at EMC World 2010, and the beginning of many announcements/announcements coming from SAP Sapphire this week, I thought it might be useful to put a few concepts in perspective. Specifically – Cisco UCS, VCE Coalition, Vblocks, Acadia and the Journey to the Cloud. When new products and concepts are introduced to the market, there is often a period of time before they are fully understood.
Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)
I’m not going to elaborate on the Cisco UCS in this section. Our partners and customers do a very good job of driving conversations about the solution on a daily basis in both public forums and Cisco communities. In the context of VCE and Vblock, I do want to clarify one point about UCS. While UCS is part of the Vblock Bill-of-Materials (BOM), it is not in any way restricted to only be sold in a VCE or Vblock configuration. While UCS does have design characteristics and integration points (here, here, here) that optimize it for virtualized Data Center environments, Cisco realizes that customers have a variety of computing needs (physical and virtual) and vendor preferences (applications, hypervisor, storage, management, etc.) and is fully committed to delivering the value of UCS to those environments.
Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) Coalition
Introduced in November 2009, the VCE Coalition was created as a three-way partnership to drive our shared visions around Virtualization and Cloud Computing. This joint vision of a Journey to the Cloud has been on full display at Cisco Partner Summit, EMC World and SAP Sapphire over the past month. The first visible output of the VCE Coalition was the new product suite called Vblock, with Vblock 1 and Vblock 2 being introduced in November. These were targeted to address mid-size to large Enterprises and Service Providers At Cisco Partner Summit in April, the VCE Coalition introducedVblock 0, which extends the offering into smaller companies as well as for larger companies looking to introduce Private Cloud operations into small segments of their Data Center. Vblocks deliver a pre-tested, pre-integrated, unified solution for delivering virtualized IT resources which are managedand supported through a single organization (staffed by experts from all three companies).
Since the creation of the VCE Coalition, we have treated the partnership as a high-priority aspect of all three businesses. Executive leadership is in place from all three companies, across every aspect of the business (Sales, Support, Finance, Joint-Development, Solution Architecture, Training, etc.). That leadership and commitment was taken to another level with the announcement that Michael Capellas would lead all VCE activities.
I’ve previously discussed the foundation behind Vblock, both at a Technical Decision-Maker and Operations level. I mention this because Vblock is not just a new part-number, but rather a new way of thinking about designing/buying/operating/servicing IT capabilities. It’s about thinking about IT as a Service. It’s about virtualization and automation, allowing IT to align more closely with the flexibility needed by the business and its fluctuating business cycles.
We are already seeing Global System Integrators such as Accenture, CapGemini, CSC, Lockheed Martin, Tata and WiPro begin to build service offerings with Vblock infrastructure packages. We’re seeing Service Providers such as Savvis, Sunguard, Xerox ACS and others offering services on top of Vblocks to Enterprise and SMB customers. We’re seeing dozens of partners around the world introduce Vblock offers to help customers rapidly adapt their business environments to the changing economy. And in the Enterprise, we’re seeing Vblock deployments for targeted applications (SAP, Virtual Desktop, etc.), Vblocks for shared environments (Dev/Test), and Vblocks as the foundation for massive Data Center consolidation (often from Data Center sprawl created by M&A activities in the past).
But not every partner or customer is ready to deliver/consume solutions in a Vblock format. The VCE Coalition understands this, as the pace of change will be different for every company. In many of these situations, the customer would like to purchase the technology elements from VMware, Cisco or EMC respectively. Their current buying/depreciation lifecycle, their specific application requirements or their existing IT organizational model influences them to buy and consume the technology in a best-of-breed, do-it-yourself model. This approach will continue to be allowed and is fully supported by each of the three companies, respectively. This approach can deliver the technology foundation for future Cloud Computing models, allowing customers time figure out how to eventually add the operational process, automation and people-skills required for the Data Center of the future.
With the announcement of the VCE Coalition, an additional entity was announced – Acadia, LLC. Acadia is a joint-venture that is funded by Cisco and EMC, with investment contributions from VMware and Intel. The venture was established to help partners and customers accelerate the transition to pervasive virtualization and private cloud. Acadia is a services company that is focused on delivering cloud computing solutions, utilizing Vblock infrastructure, to partners and customers that want a Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT) model. Michael Capellas is the CEO of Acadia.
There has been some confusion about the role of Acadia as it relates to both the VCE Coalition and existing (and future) partners of VMware, Cisco and EMC. While both the VCE Coalition and Acadia have offerings that include Vblock, they are separate entities. VCE Coalition is responsible for all aspects of Vblock from a product, marketing, sales and support perspective. Acadia is a service delivery option for customers that desire a BOT model.
Customers that have interest in Private Cloud / Cloud Computing solutions have the options of purchasing those solutions from either the VCE Coalition, VCE Coalition partners or Acadia depending on their preferences (required engagement models, local presence, existing business relationships, etc.).
The Journey to the Cloud
With the introduction of Cisco UCS in early 2009, and the announcements of the VCE Coalition and Acadia in late 2009, we have seen massive global interest from customers that would like to work with VMware, Cisco and EMC on their Journey to the Cloud (Private, Public or Hybrid). A journey to a IT cloud infrastructure requires changes both in the technology and the operations of a business. As more companies realize what a cloud infrastructure could mean for the agility of their business, the more they are realizing that it will need to be build differently. Sometimes “differently” means a new computing system (Cisco UCS), sometimes it means best-of-breed virtualized technology (VMware, Cisco, EMC), and sometimes it means a cloud-focused approach to both technology and operations (Vblock). For each of those business needs, we believe that we have the right offering for today and into the future. We look forward to speaking with you about where your business on the Journey to the Cloud.