A couple of key Dell EMC server and storage executives have stated unequivocally that the company would continue to use Cisco UCS servers, and not Dell servers, in the company's Vblock converged infrastructure solutions.
Channel partners close to both Dell and Cisco had mixed reactions to the Dell EMC move – some see it as an example of the vendor's commitment to offering flexible solutions to customers, and others see it as a way to keep existing customers satisfied until they move to Dell-centric servers.
Chad Sakac, president of Dell EMC's converged platforms and solutions division, said in a December video blog that customers see servers a critical part of how they build their IT infrastructures.
Dell EMC will continue to build its Vblock and VxBlock pre-integrated converged infrastructure solutions using Cisco UCS servers while building its VxRack hyper-converged rack-scale solutions and its VxRail-based and Nutanix-based hyper-converged infrastructure appliances using Dell's R630, R730, and R730xd server platforms with software-defined storage, SSDs, and NVMe storage, Sakac said.
Vblock and VxBlock are similar, but VxBlock includes built-in software-defined networking using VMware NSX or Cisco ACI technology.
When it comes to enterprise-class Vblock and VxBlock solutions, customers still want to know the specific components or "ingredients" even though they are primarily concerned with the functionality of the solution as a whole, Sakac said.
"Customers worry about the ingredients, when they don't really understand that, when they're buying [converged infrastructure], they're not buying the ingredient," he said. "The thing that they're evaluating is everything inside [the solution]. But again, customers start their journey by thinking the ingredients really, really matter. So we say, 'OK, fine.'"
Unlike the rack-scale-based and appliance-based hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, in which the storage is tightly integrated with the server, the VCE Vblock platforms feature an external storage array tied to the server, Sakac said. That array could be either a VMAX, XtremIO, XC-series, or Unity, he said.
For both the Vblock and the VxRack solutions, Dell EMC has standardized on the Cisco Nexus network technology because of enterprise customer demand, Sakac said. And when VCE Vblocks were first unveiled, they were built using Cisco UCS servers, he said.
Both Sakac and Ravi Pendekanti, senior vice president of product management and marketing for Dell PowerEdge servers, said Dell servers compete very well in terms of capabilities with those of Cisco. However, Pendekanti said, Cisco UCS will remain the server platform of choice for Vblocks and VxBlocks.