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While both the Vblock and the FlexPod use partnerships with Cisco and VMware to help cut the risk of deploying storage, the two are very different, said Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and partner to both EMC and NetApp.
A big difference is in how the Vblocks are relatively fixed in terms of configuration, and the setting up of Acadia, a Cisco-EMC joint venture with investment from VMware and Intel, which will help the vendors work with large customers and channel partners to build, operate and then transfer Vblock infrastructures, Norbie said
"NetApp is going with a much-less defined architecture," he said. "It's not looking at a support organization like Acadia. Instead, FlexPod will have more of a hardware compatibility list showing the support for the joint architecture."
Nexus is currently in the process of evaluating Vblock for its customers, Norbie said. However, VMware is the constant among customers, regardless of which storage vendor they use, and over 90 out of 100 customers are not looking at Vblock.
"I'm not saying anything bad about Vblock," he said. "But Vblock is still a uber-enterprise-scale offering. Most customers are buying only some tens of petabytes of storage, and are not buying things like Vblocks."
What's refreshing with FlexPod is, it gives everyone a different approach, Norbie said. "So it doesn't really compete with Vblock. You will talk with customers, see what they need, and come up with a solution."
The FlexPod solution could help NetApp partners draw closer to Cisco.
Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider, said the the relationship unveiled between Cisco, VMware, and NetApp unveiled earlier this year is motivating his company to get additional depth and breadth with its Cisco relationship.
"It comes down to, what's the best fit for our customers," Strasheim said. "And most of our customers have Cisco in their environments."
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