Finally all the speculation is put to rest as VMware, Cisco and EMC announce their joint venture: Acadia. The “coalition” of the three companies will work together to deliver private cloud infrastructure which utilises Cisco UCS, VMware vSphere and EMC storage hardware. All of this will be delivered in something called the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE and conveniently the initials of the three companies) and in packages called Vblock (interesting that the ‘V’ is capitalised here). Acadia acts as the delivery company for the technology and from the legalese on their website seems to be an EMC entity.
I can’t help thinking back to my mainframe days and the monopoly held by IBM in the development of the entire System 360/370 & 390 architectures. Many companies copied (Amdahl, HDS) and EMC effectively broke the grip IBM had on storage hardware. Now the mainframe is niche and things have moved on, however EMC seem to be heading full circle by packaging their technology in the triumvirate that is VCE, but is perhaps more a duumvirate than we care to think. How ironic.
So what is the initial offering? Well, there are three offerings labelled Vblock2, Vblock1 and Vblock0, covering the support of up to 6000, 3000 and 800 virtual machines respectively. High end uses V-Max storage, the middle offering uses CLARiiON and the low-end uses “EMC Unified Storage”, which presumably is Celerra. Ionix rears its ugly head as the management tool of choice, packaged as “Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager”.
Whilst some customers will find the packaged delivery of the components they may well have already chosen as helpful, what’s not clear is how readily other technologies can be integrated into the Vblock architecture. For instance, if EMC storage isn’t the preferred option or if Hyper-V is the hypervisor of choice (regardless of how unlikely this may be), how can customers implement their configuration? There’s no incentive for VCE to offer other options and that just reduces customer choice.
How will the existing VMware partners like HP and Netapp feel? No doubt we’ll see other partnerships and offerings spring up and I don’t think that will take too long, however some vendors will quickly be left behind.
Ultimately, we all know that IT is moving into a new phase where virtualisation of all components is the key strategy. Networking, servers and storage are all moving to be commodity and consequently there needs to be another approach to making money and achieving high margin from hardware and software sales. Delivering a consolidated architecture where integration means the sum is greater than the parts is what ACE and Acadia will deliver.
You can read the Cisco press release here. Scroll down to the “Additional Resources” section for more links.