By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated April 16, 2012.
EMC just rolled out its VSPEX Proven Infrastructure, a flexible reference architecture that combines its storage and backup products with virtualization server and network technology from its partners. Citrix, Cisco, Brocade, Intel, Microsoft and VMware products are in the mix.
EMC is getting the virtual ball rolling with 14 VSPEX configurations that represent what it sees as the most popular use cases for customers moving to the cloud. The architecture aims to help customers accelerate deployment of private clouds and end-user computing environments.
The product is available now. EMC trotted out several customers to sing the praises of the new architecture and EMC partners are lining up to laud the solution. But will companies rush to adopt yet another converged infrastructure solution?
Why VSPEX Is Different
We asked Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, his perspectives on whether EMC can converge technologies, partners and the channel for SMB cloud customers. As he sees it, it's been a hot time lately for so-called converged infrastructures. From that standpoint, he told us, some might consider EMC's new VSPEX as one among many other similar solutions.
But, he added, that assumption would be fundamentally incorrect -- and he gives three reasons: homogenous hardware, partner paucity, and shortchanged channels and SMBs, meaning the vast majority of converged system offerings are aimed at enterprise customers.
"To date, the vast majority of converged systems focus on single vendors' hardware offerings, reflecting the ongoing consolidation among traditional systems vendors and the increasing focus on narrow or single-use case appliances," King said. "Because of most converged systems' emphasis on a single vendor's technologies, opportunities for traditional partners are typically limited."
No Single-Vendor Stack Lockdowns
By contrast, King said, EMC VSPEX is hardly homogenous. Though EMC provides the foundational arrays, final configurations can be subtly shaped by the backup, servers, virtualization and networking options customers choose. That means clients can avoid being locked into vertically integrated, single-vendor stacks.
"Perhaps most importantly, EMC VSPEX was designed with channel partners in mind -- many of whom offered counsel during the development process -- and will be sold exclusively through EMC's Velocity and VSPEX partners' channel programs," King said. "That, in turn, will allow SMBs to enjoy converged cloud infrastructure innovations that have mostly been relegated to larger companies."
King is not saying that EMC VSPEX is altogether unique. Indeed, there are other offerings that combine hardware, virtualization and software technologies from multiple vendors. King specifically pointed to VCE -- which is co-owned by VMware, Cisco and EMC -- and vBlocks as examples.
However, he added, those solutions exclusively or mostly target large enterprises. What's more, he said, though Dell's vStart 50, 100 and 200 systems target smaller businesses and are available through the company's PartnerDirect program, they consist entirely of Dell hardware components.
"In VSPEX, EMC, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Intel, Microsoft and VMware have created a mechanism that offers openness and flexibility that will be of value to SMB customers, and should provide ample market opportunities to the companies and their channel partners," King said. "If those efforts resonate in the market as we expect them to, it will not be surprising to see healthy, continuing growth in sales of these converged cloud systems and in the VSPEX partner community."