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VCE Advances Integrated Server Vision

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted February 21, 2013


Back in December of 2009, Cisco, EMC and VMware launched a new joint venture effort called the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition to simplify modern virtual server application deployments. It's an effort that has paid off.

Since VCE was launched, 1,000 Vblock-converged infrastructure systems have been shipped to customers. The Vblock is the core of the VCE offering and includes Cisco compute, VMware virtualization and EMC storage technologies in a fully integrated offering.

VCE is now expanding its product portfolio with a new series of Vblock systems as well as a new category of specialized systems for specific applications.

The new Vblock System 100 is an entry-level offering from VCE and is intended for use in branch office locations. The system includes 3x Cisco C220 M3 servers, 2x Cisco Catalyst 3750-X switches, 1x EMC VNXe 3150 storage and VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus.

VCE is also introducing what it refers to as specialized systems. Trey Layton, CTO of VCE, explained to ServerWatch that the first specialized system is for SAP HANA. He added that VCE's intention is to have as many as two additional Server Datacenterspecialized systems come to market, including a potential Big Data system.

VCE Vision Intelligent Operations

In addition to the new systems, VCE is releasing the Vision Intelligent Operations platform to help manage the VCE environment. Layton explained that the Vision enables integration with multiple layers of management applications from EMC, Cisco and VMware in order to manage the status of the Vblock.

"The source of truth for the Vblock system is the Vision Intelligent Operations repository," Layton said. "But it is choreographed and working with an understanding of all the underlying components."

Software-Defined Networking

Cisco, EMC and VMware all have Software-Defined Networking (SDN) efforts underway, and they are reflected in VCE as well.

"We are aggregating all the SDN technologies from our investor companies to present to our customers, so they experience it," Layton said.

As a common denominator, the VXLAN protocol is used by VCE to help enable an SDN environment. VXLAN is an emerging standard that provides a Layer 2 abstraction for virtual machines so they are not restricted to a particular LAN boundary.

"VXLAN will absolutely be a control point to allow for an abstracted control plane view of the physical and virtual elements and their interaction with each other," Layton said.

Competition

The idea of pre-integrated server systems is not unique to VCE. HP has its AppSystems, IBM has PureSystems, and Oracle has its Exa-class systems.

In Layton's view, the VCE approach is different.

"We see in the market that there is a generalization of the entire integrated systems market and a lack of reporting clarity," Layton said. "We haven't advertised all the things that we do properly."

Layton added that everyone claims to be pre-integrated, though VCE's definition of pre-integrated is different than other vendors.

"We take these systems and we physically assemble them," Layton said. "Beyond the physical assembly we also logically provision the assets, meaning that we have tested the deep integrations of system configurations and software versions to ensure maximum operability."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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