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EMC's VSPEX Bundles, Explained

These days, companies basically have two options for bringing new IT into their data centers. They can acquire all the servers, storage, networking, and software from different vendors and try to put it all together and make it work; or they can buy one big appliance that's simpler to set up but is of a fixed configuration. EMC is offering a third option that combines the best attributes of the previous options, which it calls VSPEX.

With VSPEX, channel partners such as Arrow, Tech Data, Avnet, and Ingram Micro can configure an appliance for a customer that offers a much wider array of technology choices than the Vblock big appliance co-developed by VMware, Cisco Systems, and EMC (which owns 80% of virtualization leader VMware). The configurations support the major players in enterprise applications, virtualization hypervisors, servers, storage, and networking and let customers pick and choose what works best for them.

For applications, a VSPEX system can be loaded with enterprise software from Oracle, Microsoft, or SAP. Hypervisor and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) options include Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware products like vSphere, or Citrix for VDI. Server options include Cisco Unified Computing Systems and any server running Intel processors, which includes boxes from Dell, HP, IBM, and others.

In networking, Brocade and Cisco are "preferred" vendors, says Josh Kahn, VP of solutions marketing for EMC, but other networking equipment from such companies as Dell, HP, and Juniper would still be supported. In storage and data protection, the preferred vendors are EMC and RSA, the latter a wholly owned subsidiary of EMC specializing in security.

Initially, EMC has assembled 14 different configurations for what it calls VSPEX Proven Infrastructure with different combinations from among its technology partners, Kahn says. A related program called VSPEX Labs will develop other configurations among vendors and channel partners as updated technology is introduced going forward.

This announcement comes a day after IBM introduced PureSystems, a new category of servers. This family of "expert integrated systems" goes beyond converged infrastructure or unified system approaches by adding a new middleware layer that aims to automate both infrastructure and applications. It offers workflows from IBM and its third-party partners, and gives IT the ability to define its own workflows. Initially there are two products in the family: PureFlex, which integrates server, storage, and networking into one package; and PureApplication, which automates software based on the patterns and processes of IBM's own work with customers and partners.