VCE Says VBlock Cloud Platform Ready For Prime Time

VBlock has grown from a reference architecture into a fully-fledged private cloud platform, and one of the chief visionaries behind the project says VBlock is now poised for expansion into new markets.

Phil Harris, vice president of engineering at the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) Company, which oversees development of VBlock, says the plan is to expand VBlock beyond its three primary target categories to make it more viable for a wider spectrum of companies.

"We're going to see an expansion of the VBlock family in the coming months, both in terms of the range of use cases and the range of scale points," Harris said in a recent interview.

VBlocks are pre-integrated and pre-configured private "cloud in a box" systems that wrap together Cisco networking, VMware virtualization and EMC storage, security and systems management technology. In its early iterations, VBlock was designed for very specific use cases, but VCE is now broadening that "significantly and substantially" in terms of the market size and segment the platform is addressing, Harris said.

Sponsored post

Harris says VCE is working to add scale and price points for VBlock configurations that are appropriate for different geographies and market segments, and it's also developing more granular delineation between the scale points. Many VCE partners have been clamoring for the ability to customize their VBlocks to meet specific customer needs.

"You have to understand, no single configuration is good for all customers," said one solution provider, who was granted anonymity. "VBlock is a great idea, but we still need room for custom architecture in a block solution."

VCE's growing focus on scale points will address this particular need, according to Harris.

"Rather than having to customize the VBlock and lose some of the value proposition of the pre-integration and pre-testing, we will have better resolution within those scale points," Harris said. "I think we've done a fairly good job so far of getting those scale points right, but I think we need another level of specificity there. The type of memory, processor and storage will be well defined and will be much more appropriate for these use cases."

VCE partners are also concerned about NetApp's recent campaign of private cloud wins with Cisco and VMware, which have been built on its popular FlexPod architecture for virtualized environments. They're especially perturbed by the notion of VCE founding companies competing with the coalition.

"Customers are loving the NetApp solution with Cisco UCS and VMware, and they make it easier to get quotes, too. I know I am losing deals because of this," said one VCE partner, who requested anonymity.

Next: What Makes VBlock Different

Harris is aware of the issue but says VBlock differs from other ecosystem plays in terms of the technical capabilities and services its partners can bring to bear in the future.

"What's different is that VBlock is a reference architecture, a true productized offering in the market that has engineering and development resources behind it," Harris said. "And there is sophisticated intellectual property that we'll build within VCE, with our principles from the founding companies that will continue to evolve the product set."

VCE is planning to launch a revamped channel program this quarter that will seek to address its partners' concerns and make it easier to do business with the company. In the past, solution providers have been frustrated by a model that forced them to price the different VBlock components separately through the three vendors, but VCE has addressed this with more specific list prices and a planned deal registration program that will unify the process.

Harrison points to the channel momentum VCE has already generated, with more than 100 partners in 29 countries already signed up.

"I think we will see partners, by leveraging the VBlock platform, differentiating themselves in the different market segments," Harris said.