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The Most Successful Joint Venture in I.T. History

by Gary Moore, President and COO, Cisco & Howard Elias, President and COO, EMC Global Enterprise Services

Cisco President Gary Moore and EMC President Howard Elias, co-Chairs of VCE

The Most Successful Joint Venture in I.T. History. That’s how we, as co-Chairs of the VCE Board, think about VCE. We may be a bit biased, but we’re confident many others agree based on the tremendous success of VCE’s Vblock converged infrastructure (CI). In fact, we created the notion of CI with Vblock, and VCE has held the #1 position for as long as the analyst firms have been tracking it.

Given today’s news about EMC and Cisco jointly agreeing to change the structure of VCE going forward, we’d like to reflect back on its success and what is driving this change now.

Rewind to 2007 when Cisco was first entering the server business.  We began discussions around the best ways to deliver to customers the best-of-breed technologies from Cisco, EMC and VMware into a single engineered solution that would pretty much be plug-and-play for customers.

Over the course of the following two years, we challenged our teams and ourselves to come up with the best way to commercialize our vision and serve customers.  There were the usual traditional resale and meet-in-the-channel programs, but we felt this could be a much bigger idea.  In the end, we concluded that this was the time to be bold, which led to the initial formation of the JV on October 30, 2009 now known as VCE.  We say now known because the original JV was called Acadia, based on Build Operate Transfer (BOT) services and then a Reference Architecture (RA).  But as any nimble startup does, you pivot your great idea to what customers truly want and value – and in this case it was a product, not BOT services or RA’s.  So VCE and the Vblock were born and the rest is truly history!  Consider these facts about VCE’s Vblock:

  • More than 2,000 deployed to date
  • Six consecutive quarters of greater than 50% year-over-year growth
  • #1 position for integrated infrastructure systems for two years running  
  • IDC study:  VCE customers are able to deploy new services five times faster, reduce downtime by 96%, and lower their annual datacenter costs by 50% with Vblock systems.

So what made this JV so successful? We’d like to think it was our combined market understanding concerning what customers truly wanted, our sincere partnership and enduring friendship.   All of those things are true, but it all starts and ends with the best technologies, combined with a maniacal focus on the customer experience and tremendous execution by talented teams.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved since it’s inception – with a special thanks and congratulations to the current team led by CEO Praveen Akkiraju.

So why the change now?  Because the best time to change and transform is when you’re at the top of your game.  The industry continues to move fast and evolve, and we want VCE to continue to grow and succeed in this environment.  It’s time for VCE to broaden its horizon and help customers in their journey to the Hybrid Cloud.  This has been our focus and we will accelerate our support to our customers.   We also want to signal to our customers that VCE is going to be around for the long haul.  And Cisco’s commitment to VCE continues in the form of a multi-year resale, support and engineering agreement. The partnership remains strong and VCE will be a vibrant channel for Cisco technologies going forward.  In essence, we started with a JV structure that has been wildly successful, so now it’s time to show commitment for the long term in a way that fits the business models of EMC and Cisco well.

It’s been a fun, thrilling and rewarding ride for both of us, but most importantly for our customers, partners and the VCE team. We would like to thank all of them for the confidence they have shown and allowing us to play a meaningful role in changing the industry!

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Next-Gen ACI ready VCE Vblock Systems Accelerate Journey to SDN and Cloud

 

VCE2VCEIt is nearly five years since Cisco, EMC and VMware came together to set up VCE and introduce one of the world’s best integrated infrastructure solutions with the Vblocks. The promise was to deliver “dramatic efficiencies” to customers promising significant reduction in capital and operating expenses giving customers flexibility and choice. Customers appreciated the operational simplicity of the model and Vblock sales took off with multi-billion dollar annual run rates.

Much has changed in the industry since then. The social-mobile-cloud-big data revolution has accelerated posing new requirements for IT and increasing the relevance of data centers and private cloud deployments. SDN has moved from being just a buzzword with several use-cases. Server virtualization has continued to drive efficiencies and hybrid clouds have become the new norm. Amidst all this, customers continue to crave operational simplicity and consumable infrastructure for their data center and private cloud deployments making the VCE approach as relevant as ever.

So, today, we’re very happy to share the success and celebrate the joint innovations as VCE rolls out its next generation Vblock systems that drive new levels of convergence. With Cisco continuing to refresh its portfolio with new Nexus products and industry leading SDN with the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) approach, and with Cisco UCS introducing next-generation products, it is natural that these innovations be reflected in the VCE Vblock integrated solutions.

Cisco is helping bring in new innovations to the party. The Nexus 9000 forms a key element with a very compelling form factor and industry leading price-performance. For customers interested in venturing into Software Defined Networking (SDN) and making their infrastructure application centric, the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) provides a central point of management and policy application. The result is a simplified operational model and lower TCO across a variety of deployment scenarios.

As VCE introduces Vblock Systems 240, 540 and 740 today, they provide the flexibility of consuming the network elements as standalone switches or SDN deployments in an ACI mode.  Vblocks can therefore operate in a standalone mode with current automation mechanisms or in an ACI ready mode subscribing to the APIC policy-driven model. Customers adopting the new Vblock systems get the operational flexibility to choose.

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VCE Refreshes Vblock Portfolio with New Cisco UCS servers

Five years ago, VCE was created with the goal of providing a simple, efficient solution to deploy and run IT infrastructure. VCE’s Vblock Systems have enabled customers to focus on business innovation instead of integrating, validating, and managing IT infrastructure. It would be an understatement to say VCE has been successful.  Last year, Vblock Systems, built on Cisco UCS integrated infrastructure, surpassed their 2013 goal of $1 billion in annual sales and was recognized as a leader inthe integrated infrastructure market. In fact, in Gartner’s inaugural Magic Quadrant for integrated systems, VCE Vblock Systems is rated in the Leaders Quadrant, based on the tight integration of industry and market leading technologies from Cisco and EMC.

Today, VCE announced a major update and expansion to their Vblock Systems portfolio using the latest Cisco UCS servers and Cisco ACI-Ready switches. The new Cisco M4 model servers recently celebrated four world-records benchmarks, offering performance improvements up to 145 percent since the last processor generation. Customers can be confident that Cisco UCS servers will deliver outstanding application performance as part of a Vblock System. IT leaders want to accelerate infrastructure and application deployment and these new ACI-Ready Vblock Systems are an extension of Cisco’s application-centric data center strategy. We feel our application-centric approach, where the automated configuration of IT infrastructure in sync with the needs of the application, is essential to keeping pace with todays dynamic business priorities.

VCE also announced a cloud management solution with Cisco UCS Director.  VCE’s Integrated Solution for Cloud Management with Cisco pre-integrates UCS Director with a Vblock System, providing the capability to quickly instantiate an initial private cloud foundation for customer environments. UCS Director enables the automation and provisioning of compute, network, and storage resources, both physical and virtual. This automation of integrated infrastructure can further expedite the deployment of application-ready infrastructure.

Cisco is excited that our new products and technologies have been integrated into the Vblock portfolio and congratulate the VCE team on today’s announcement. We believe these new Vblock Systems and solutions will make it easier for customers to deliver the performance, agility, and availability for the most demanding applications.

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ACI Walkabout at CiscoLive 2014, San Francisco

In a few days at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Cisco Live. This year we are expecting record attendance exceeding 20,000 participants, 9 amazing keynotes, 600 sessions, live demos at world of solutions, big analyst and partner presence, and last but not least, the opportunity for you to meet and network with top minds in high-tech. If you are new to Cisco Live and feel overwhelmed by the grandness of the event, let me assure you that you are not alone.  I have been there before. I have set out in this blog to give you an easy walkabout of Cisco Datacenter highlights, particularly the Cisco ACI key activities over the duration of the event.

Much like you I will also be eagerly looking to attend John Chambers’ majestic keynote that starts the proceedings on Monday, May 19. John in his unique style will lead with the Theme “Tomorrow Starts Here” covering leading industry trends such as Internet of Everything (IOE), Fast IT, and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) among many others. So, do not miss this opportunity. I want to shift gears and take you on a fast cruise of Cisco Data Center and Cisco ACI highlights at the event.

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In less than a year since the announcement, Cisco ACI has taken the industry by storm with a large customer base  and several of the industry’s key partners such as Microsoft, Red Hat, Citrix, F5, et al endorsing and building joint solutions. There is so much excitement around ACI at this year’s Cisco Live. I want to give a structure to how I am planning to cover the topic in this blog. Essentially, I consider them as Cisco-led and Partner led.

Cisco has a packed agenda of ACI activities and announcements. Cisco APIC, which enables ACI Fabric mode on Nexus 9000 networks, will be available this summer along with a robust Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy that includes additional eco-system partners, Cisco Validated Designs (CVD), additional platform support and leading-edge hardware innovations across the portfolio. We are also introducing two new additions to the existing portfolio of Nexus 9000 to meet scalability, flexibility and performance requirements of standalone and ACI mode deployments.

Executive ACI speaking sessions feature prominently this year with Cisco President Rob Lloyd’s session “Infrastructure for the Agile Enterprise” keynote, May 20, 10 AM, at the North Hall.  Rob’s keynote also features Soni Jiandani, who will present how ACI delivers agility. Rob Soderbery and Soni Jiandani are presenting a technology trends keynote (GENSK 1109) on May 21, 8.30 am, titled “Fast Track to Fast IT: Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure”, another choice from a catalog of exciting offers.

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Delivering Workplace Mobility – Built on Cisco Unified Computing System

Citrix Synergy kicks off next week and Cisco is once again proud to be a platinum sponsor.  We’ll have an extensive suite of content at the event, and a number of our desktop virtualization and enterprise mobility experts on the ground.

Need a Warm-up for Citrix Synergy?

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 9.57.04 AMBefore we dive into all the Cisco/Synergy goodness, I want to point out that Cisco TechWise TV posted a brand new VDI-focused episode featuring our product manager (Ashok Rajagopalan), lead TME (Mike Brennan) and myself, with TechWise’s Jimmy Ray Purser and Robb Boyd.  The episode does a nice job revisiting what’s new with desktop virtualization, how has the landscape transformed from an infrastructure perspective, and a look behind the scenes at how we put our Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) together.  You can view the session here.

You can also check out this short animated whiteboard video that outlines why Cisco UCS is your best choice for deploying Citrix XenDesktop

If you’ve made plans to be in LA next week, here’s a quick run-down of stuff you should check out.

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