VCE Vblocks Converged Infrastructure Gets Update

Cisco, EMC, VMware alliance quadruples Vblock performance with System 340, adds specialized features for virtualized databases.

Charles Babcock

September 18, 2013

3 Min Read
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The EMC, Cisco and VMware subsidiary VCE (formerly Virtual Computing Environment), has released Vblock System 340, its next converged server and networking rack-mount infrastructure. It's also adding specialized Vblocks for virtualized, but high performance, databases and latency-sensitive applications.

In other words, the alliance between VMware and Cisco that produces converged infrastructure is alive and well, despite the sometimes bitter rivalry between the companies. For example, when VMware announced its partners for its NSX software-defined networking platform at VMworld in August, Cisco was noticeably absent.

By several standards, the VCE partnership should be viewed as a success. Cisco is breaking into the server market, in part because its Unified Computing System servers are a building block of Vblocks. VMware supplies the virtualization and EMC provides the integrated storage. IT operations can build something similar by ordering the parts and assembling them themselves. But for a price, VCE does it for you and guarantees the parts work together in an optimized fashion.

VCE says the joint venture is growing at a rate of 50% a year. It achieved a $1 billion annual run rate in revenue back in February. It has 57% of the converged infrastructure market, and 1,200 Vblocks have been deployed since the launch of the company Nov. 3, 2009.

[ Vblocks are used by some of the biggest telcos and pharmaceutical companies, but they're not just for the big boys. Learn what VCE is doing for small business: VCE Adds Smaller Vblocks To Attract SMBs. ]

VCE is upgrading its Vblock 300 product line with the release of the Vblock System 340. It has twice the data capacity and four times the performance of the predecessor Vblock System 300. Its components include the Cisco Unified Compute System B-Series blades; Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch and 5548UP switch, among others; a choice of several EMC VNX storage arrays; and VMware vSphere 5.1 or 5.5 virtual environment management software.

Vblocks can be managed through several interfaces, including VMware's vCenter Server management console, EMC's Unisphere Manager or Cisco's Unified Compute System Manager.

Many virtualization implementers have been reluctant to virtualize database systems out of fear of adding performance penalties through virtualization's overhead. VCE has attempted to address that concern with its Vblock Specialized System for High Performance Databases, also announced Tuesday. It's designed for I/O that scales up to millions of I/O operations per second, while maintaining continuous availability, VCE said Tuesday in a statement. It is primarily engineered to optimize Oracle database systems.

Likewise, its new Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications adds all-flash storage with inline data deduplication for low latency response times. For example, the specialized system might be used to keep hundreds or thousands of virtual desktops running, the announcement said.

Included with the upgraded Vblocks is the option of Vision Intelligent Operations software, which allows the security of the system to be checked with the click of a mouse. If offers greater management visibility and the management of Vblocks through automated operational tasks, including software updates.

VCE is trying to enlist more channel partners to sell and install Vblocks through a recruitment process that trains them more quickly and rewards those skilled at implementing the converged systems. The enhanced partner program also allows partners to specialize in particular types of Vblock systems.

EMC and Cisco are owners of VCE. VMware and Intel are both investors in the subsidiary.

Learn more about converged infrastructure by attending the Interop conference track on Cloud Computing and Virtualization in New York from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

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