VCE Vblock – Alignment of Technology and Operations

May 18, 2010 - 1 Comment

The first question I ask customers or partners, when the topic of conversation is Vblock or Private Cloud, is “are you partially virtualized yet?”. If the answer is yes (which is true about 80% of the time), the next question I ask is, “who is responsible for the network now?” I don’t do this because my badge has a Cisco logo and we’re obsessed with all things networking. I do this because the answer to the question immediately tells me if the customers is ready to talk about Vblock.

In a previous post I talked about how Vblocks were designs to address the concerns our customers faced as they began to expand their virtualized infrastructure. I wanted to expand on how we took those challenges and created the foundational model for Vblock.


In the past, with physical devices (servers, networking, etc.), the touch points between the various elements within a computing stack were defined by distinct physical silos. A box, a port, a cable, or a LUN defined the operations. Mobility didn’t exist. Visibility across segments of the stack was almost non-existent. Islands of under-utilized resources were built, under the domain of isolated business needs.

But as VMware virtualization began to become more relevant within the computing stack, several changes happened to both the technology and the operational model. VMware VI3 allowed the virtualization of networking and the beginning of visibility into storage for the VI Admin. Those old silos were beginning to blur, and in some instances crumble. With VMotion, mobility of VMs forced network and security groups to take notice and try to figure out what this new computing paradigm mean to their worlds. Very quickly the interactions began to look like the new “virtual silo” below. VMware vSphere took this to the next level with the expansion of vStorage APIs, vCenter Plugins, vNetworking, VMsafe API and other expandability options.



In this new model, the lines between elements of the stacks were no longer distinct. Visibility across levels of the stack was now possible; creating new capabilities but also introducing some challenges for administrators and operators. Who controls what elements (networking, storage)? What policies should take precedence when there is overlap (mobility, security)? What new options are available (application backup, etc.)? How would this new model be managed (isolated element managers or something unified)?

It is with this common customer problem set that we introduced Vblock into the market. By leveraging the existing integration between VMware, Cisco and EMC (vCenter plug-ins, Nexus 1000v, VN-Link, vStorage API (VAAI), SRM-SRA, etc.) and then bringing it together with Ionix UIM unified management, Vblock brings world-class technology with an operational model that addresses today’s Private Cloud challenges. The Vblock is not just a technology stack, it’s an operational stack optimized for virtualized Private Cloud. Designed as a solution. Serviced as a solution. Operated for business needs.

Remember my opening question about who owns the network now that the customer is partially virtualized? Does it make more sense now? Can you see how it’s not just the network that has changed? And does it now start to make sense as to why Vblock is not just about stacking technology?

Welcome to the first step in your journey to the Private Cloud….

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  1. Vblock looks like a real management need in a virtualized environment that can be confuse.