Solution providers are giving a thumbs-up to the new integrated, virtual data center coalition formed by Cisco, EMC and VMware but say details on the initiative are lacking.
Meanwhile, distributors say they are struggling to see how they fit in with the new coalition.
Cisco, EMC and VMware Tuesday unveiled Vblock Infrastructure Packages, a series of preconfigured, pretested solutions based on Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) and networking switches, EMC's Symmetrix or Clariion storage arrays and VMware's vSphere server virtualization platform.
They are aimed at helping customers build virtual data centers and private computing clouds.
The Vblock Infrastructure Packages, along with Acadia, a joint venture that Cisco and EMC plan to form next year to bring the solutions to market, are aimed squarely at helping ensure channel partners are the primary go-to-market focus for the coalition, the vendors' channel chiefs said.
The concept of the Vblock Infrastructure Packages is helping better explain what the three vendors are doing to help advance the idea of a virtual data center, said Ian Jones, vice president of IT solutions at Coleman Technologies, an Orlando, Fla.-based solution provider that partners with all three vendors.
Until the Vblock announcement, the three vendors have referred to themselves as "VCE," or "VMware-Cisco-EMC," or "Virtual Computing Environment," Jones said.
"Many members of our sales teams and customers have been having trouble understanding what 'VCE' means," he said. "Vblock is an easy way to talk about private clouds."
Private computing clouds and virtual computing environments are becoming very important to customers and are a part of any discussion about building a new data center or expanding an old one, Jones said. "Vblock will provide a lot more definition around virtual computing environments," he said.
The coalition comes at a fascinating time in the market as customers seriously look at how to integrate networks, storage and servers as a single solution, said Richard Zimmermann, vice president of the Network Solutions Group at Forsythe, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider and partner to the three vendors.
However, the kind of solutions being offered with the Vblock Infrastructure Packages are similar to the solutions channel partners like Forsythe are already building with the three vendors, Zimmermann said.
"We take these products and use them to add value every day," he said. "Cisco, EMC and VMware are trying to do the same thing by integrating them as building blocks. So there's some redundancy there for us."
While Vblock has no secret ingredients, it is convenient for the channel, Zimmermann said. "The convenience is in the preconfiguration and predesigning," he said. "We can do the same things individually, but this has the blessing of the manufacturers."
However, Zimmermann said, he likes the idea of the consolidated technical and sales support promised by the new Acadia joint venture.
Forsythe, which also partners with Cisco and EMC competitors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, is evaluating which customers are best suited for the Vblock Infrastructure Packages, Zimmermann said.
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