Cisco Systems, EMC and VMware Tuesday launched a joint venture called the Virtual Computing Environment coalition, confirming earlier rumors that the three companies would be partnering on a major data center play.
The move positions Cisco as that much more of a data center powerhouse and competitor to titans like Hewlett-Packard and IBM, as it effectively leverages the storage, security and virtualization capabilities of EMC and VMware to propel Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) and present a solution set from all three companies.
The companies will use the Virtual Computing Environment to develop products for what Cisco calls "data center transformation" to help businesses make their data center infrastructures more efficient. The first product launch from the partnership is the Vblock Infrastructure Package which, according to the companies, is a fully integrated virtualization, networking, computing, storage, security and management suite.
Cisco, EMC and VMware (which is majority-owned by EMC) will offer Vblock suites through system integrators, service providers, VARs and ISVs, and the companies will provide presales, services and support offerings for the channel, they said.
There are two Vblock packages available at launch, with a third on the way.
Vblock 2, according to the companies, is the high-end version, designed to support 3,000 to 6,000 virtual machines using Cisco's UCS, Nexus 1000v and Multilayer directional switches (MDS), as well as EMC's Symmetrix V-max storage and VMware's vSphere platform.
Vblock 1, for the midmarket, is designed for 800 to 3,000 virtual machines and uses a similar configuration to the Vblock 2, but EMC's Clariion storage instead of the Symmetrix V-max.
Vblock 0, the low-end configuration, won't be available until 2010 but will according to the companies support 300 to 800 virtual machines and use the same configuration -- Cisco UCS, VMware vSphere -- but swap in EMC's Unified Storage. According to Cisco, the Vblock 0 package will be available for test and development by channel partners, including VARs, service providers and ISVs.
The security for all Vblock packages is through EMC-owned RSA, which provides various security product layers depending on the size of the Vblock package.
In addition, Cisco, EMC and VMware named six systems integrators that will sell Vblock at launch: Accenture, Capgemini, CSC, Lockheed Martin, Tata Consuling Services and Wipro.
"Today's announcement addresses our customers' greatest challenges and opportunities in the data center," said John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, in a statement. "This coalition is about more than technology and partnership. It is about an entirely new and unique approach to the data center that improves utilization, power consumption and security of information, all in a way that lowers the total cost to the customer, not via a box, but with a network-based architectural approach for optimizing virtual resources."
Cisco and EMC are also introducing Acadia, a joint cloud infrastructure offering geared to service providers and large enterprises. According to Cisco, Acadia will be used to deliver Vblock architecture through the cloud and has seen investments from not only VMware but also Intel, on whose Intel Xeon processors the Vblock architecture runs.
EMC is further launching an element manager tool for Vblock called Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager, designed for enterprise management consoles.
"Cisco and EMC, together with VMware, are coming together in an unprecedented way to help our customers," said Joseph Tucci, EMC's chairman and CEO, in a statement. "They need to be able to shift more of their IT budgets to the development and rapid implementation of new technologies that help their organizations create differentiated business advantages. Many of them understand the vast potential of the private cloud. With shared road maps and a long-term commitment, the Virtual Computing Environment coalition will bring true accountability, along with the best-of-breed technologies our respective customers have come to expect, to help enable their success."
Chambers, Tucci and VMware President and CEO Paul Maritz are scheduled to discuss the partnership, products and Virtual Computing Environment coalition on a Webcast and conference call at 11:30 a.m. Eastern today.