Revisiting the Big Hunk, Converged Vblock

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Revisiting the Big Hunk, Converged Vblock

VBlock systems are bulky, preconfigured, pre-integrated and converged computing systems consisting of network systems and x86-type servers from Cisco Systems, architecture and storage/security/system management from EMC and virtualization software from VMware. They can run from hundreds of virtual machines to more than 6,000 virtual machines, depending on the need of the customer.

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VSPEX: Slimmed Down VBLocks

But not all IT shops need to be running 6,000 VMs, so EMC is coming out with a new set of blueprints for smaller VBlocks called VSPEX, which stands for virtual system specifications.

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VBlocks Have Carved Out a Big Market

VBlocks, introduced only two years ago, are a highly successful product of the two-and-a-half-year-old VCE partnership. VCE is an acronym for Virtual Computing Environment, but it also could stand for the VMware-Cisco-EMC partnership. VBlock sales have skyrocketed from zero in 2010 to an $800 million-per-year business in 2012 for EMC and its partners, so a need has definitely been filled in the large enterprise market.

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Fourteen Initial VSPEX Specs Available

The 14 initial VSPEX configurations represent the most popular use cases for midsize customers moving to cloud computing. These use cases are focused on enabling customers to accelerate deployment of private cloud and end-user computing environments.

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An Example of a VSPEX Deployment

For example, private cloud deployment users have the option of running VMware vSphere 5.0 or Microsoft Windows Hyper-V on 50 to 250 virtual machines. For end-user computing deployments, customers can choose between VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop to run 50 to 2,000 virtual desktops.

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New Partners Are Contributing

While EMC, Cisco Systems and VMware were the founding partners for the VBlock project, EMC is opening some new doors for VSPEX with its open-standards approach. In the new scenario, networking from Brocade, virtualization software from Citrix, and components from other suppliers can be swapped into a VSPEX system, depending upon the legacy IT at hand and the use case involved.

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Will EMC Competitors Be Allowed Into VSPEX?

Theoretically, at least, some users may be using competing switches and routers from Cisco and Brocade in the same data center, as well as hypervisors from competitors VMware and Citrix. But that's the way of the world; most data centers are a mixed bag of legacy and new IT components. Out of necessity, open standards are becoming a necessary ingredient in real-life IT production.

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Multiple Hypervisors Can Be Deployed

VSPEX will work with all four major hypervisors: VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and the open-source Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM).

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Top of the Line Switches

Brocade is bundling up three of its best switches for use in VSPEX systems:Â ICX and VDX for Ethernet connectivity and its 6510 Fibre Channel model. Cisco Systems is including all its front-line switches in the mix.

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A Channel-Only Sell

VPEX will be a channel sales-only package available later this quarter. Don't call up any of the partners directly; instead, potential customers will need to talk to integrators, such as Avnet, Ingram Micro, Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions or Advanced Infrastructure Solutions.

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