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Not every customer is a converged infrastructure customer, but not for lack of trying, Convery said.
"We're professional enough as sales people, and feel the need to be consultative and offer the best value," Convery said. "When dealing with converged infrastructures, it increases the sales cycle. But if a customer calls and wants 1,000 blade servers, we take the order. We can then talk to them about virtualization, thin clients, virtual desktops, and more."
Bob Olwig, vice president of business strategy at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider, said his company is having tremendous success with the Cisco-EMC-VMware VBlock, the Cisco-NetApp-VMware FlexPod, and the HP Cloudsystem Matrix converged infrastructure offerings.
"Customers are generally very interested in converged infrastructure stacks or PODs (HP Performance Optimized Data Centers)," Olwig said. "They appreciate our architectural, independent and multi-vendor approach that ultimately leads to a tailored infrastructure that best meets their business needs and budget."
World Wide offers a wide range of advisory services that include hands-on training, solution demonstrations, discovery workshops, technology assessments, and proof of concepts, many of which are delivered out of its Advanced Technology Center (ATC), Olwig said. All three of its converged infrastructure offerings are running in its ATC, he said.
"We are seeing faster adoption of these converged infrastructures within our federal segment and mid-size enterprises, but we expect a faster ramp by Fortune 1,000 clients at the end of 2011 heading into 2012," he said.
Another solution provider who works with both NetApp and EMC as well as Cisco and VMware said his company prefers to go with best-of-breed architectures.
That solution provider, who prefered to remain anonymous, said there is a market for converged infrastructure solutions, but that configuration flexibility is more important. "We don't believe in vertically-integrated stacks," the solution provider said.
The two original proponents of converged infrastructure combining elements of storage, server, and networking technology are Cisco and Hewlett-Packard.
Cisco's entry to this market is the Cisco UCS, or Unified Computing System, which combines networking, blade servers, storage, core switching, routing, security, and voice over IP (VoIP) into a single architecture.
Cisco does not offer its own storage technology. Instead, it works with EMC and VMware to develop the VBlock offering promoted by VCE, which is owned by the three partners and which sells almost exclusively through the channel. Cisco also works with NetApp and VMware to develop the FlexPod, which is sold by NetApp exclusively through its channel partners. While the VBlock has its own SKU and is shipped by VCE as a fully-configured solution to the customer site, the components of the FlexPod are ordered from the three vendors and assembled in the field by the solution provider.
HP's converged infrastructure includes its ProLiant blade servers, a variety of storage technology, and the networking technology it got with its acquisition of 3Com.
IBM is also girding for the converged infrastructure with its acquisition late last year of networking vendor Blade Network Technologies. Like HP, it can supply the storage, server, and networking legs with its own technology.
Oracle is another competitor in this space with its unique strategy of combining its powerful software stack with the server and storage technology it got with its acquisition of Sun Microsystems. However, Oracle does not have its own networking offering.
The last couple months have also seen the entry of several strong IT vendors into the converged infrastructure market.
Next: Vendors Make Their Converged Infrastructure Moves