The VSPEX validation places Extreme in the company of major vendors such as IBM, VMware, Dell and Cisco, and is a positive step for the company, said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, because it gives it the opportunity to play in what ESG describes as the integrated computing platform (ICP) ecosystem. The validation could help drive incremental revenues for Extreme, he said. Combined with its recently announced reseller deal with Lenovo, “it’s a big foot in the ICP door," he added.
ESG defines ICP as virtual computing infrastructure that integrates hardware and software into a single consumable IT system, combining normally independent pieces of infrastructure to create simplified computing platforms targeted for virtualized and cloud environments.
However, VSPEX validation is only a start, added Laliberte. Extreme is known as a player in the high-performance computing space and has expanded its offerings to include cloud and software defined networking. But the VSPEX program already leverages technology from Cisco and Brocade, so Extreme needs to educate the VSPEX channel and EMC sales teams on the value of its gear.
EMC’s VSPEX currently has 19 reference architectures designed for small and midmarket organizations, said Mark Bowker, senior analyst at ESG. VSPEX products are available globally, but only through EMC Velocity Global Alliance Partners. EMC designs and tests VSPEX products, while system integrators and VARs select the appropriate configuration based on customer needs, preferences, and environment.
Currently, VCE’s vBlock, NetApp’s FlexPod -- which includes Cisco’s Unified Computing System in the stack -- and HP VirtualSystem are considered ICP leaders, he said, while emerging companies worth watching are SimpliVity, Nutanix and Scale.
ESG research shows ICPs will become the consumption model for many new greenfield software deployments, said Bowker, including VDI, which requires complex infrastructure deployed in a simplified manner. “Enterprises are not racing to consume and procure everything they do with an ICP solution, but they are certainly including it as part of their research and due diligence," he said.
IBM’s Newest Big Iron
Big Blue continues to invest in its mainframe portfolio with the release of the zEnterprise BC12, an entry-level system starting at $75,000 with a 4.2 GHz processor, which IBM says is faster than its predecessor, the z114, and has twice the available memory.
The zBC12 comes with software tools to support analytics, cloud and mobile computing capabilities. For analytics, IBM’s new zEnterprise Analytics System 9710 includes DB2 10 for z/OS VUE and can be combined with its DB2 Analytics Accelerator for faster response times for analytics workloads. IBM has also beefed up support for cloud computing with its OMEGAMON for z/OS family to better detect performance issues.
In addition, IBM announced a new Linux-only based version of the zBC12; the Enterprise Linux Server (ELS) includes hardware, a z/VM Hypervisor and three years of maintenance. The ELS can run more than 3,000 Linux apps, and supports analytics and cloud computing using the new ELS for Analytics and Cloud-Ready for Linux on System z.
[Demand for supercomputing is on the rise as companies need more powerful systems for big data analytics. Read more in "Does Your Data Center Need A Supercomputer?"]
IBM has seen competition from challengers in computing markets it has traditionally dominated, and recently lost a $600 million contract with the CIA to Amazon Web Services. Until recently, x86 systems could not compete with the reliability of the mainframe without the abstraction of a virtualized stack, Jasmine McTigue wrote in Information Week's report on the Future of The Mainframe, but now they are a viable competitor, pushing IBM to invest R&D dollars into refreshing its flagship System z line last year.
According to InformationWeek's 2012 State of the Data Center survey, 27% of 534 respondents have IBM zSeries architectures in use and plan to retain them, while an additional 5% are using the systems but plan to retire them.
With the zBC12, IBM is responding to the competition from x86 systems. The company claims a single zBC12 can save clients up to 55% compared with the cost of x86 distributed environments. The zBC12 can consolidate up to 40 virtual servers per core, or up to 520 in a single footprint, starting at $1 per day, per virtual server.
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