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VCE Set To Launch Vblock-Like Offering With VMware NSX Technology Sometime This Quarter

VCE, the VMware-Cisco-EMC converged infrastructure joint venture, will soon let customers choose VMware's software-defined networking technology instead of Cisco's.

VCE said Wednesday it will begin shipping a new converged infrastructure offering this quarter that will come with pre-integrated NSX software-defined networking technology from VMware.

This is an important strategy shift for VCE, the six-year-old converged infrastructure joint venture between EMC, Cisco Systems and VMware, which is now majority-owned by EMC and part of its federation of subsidiary companies.

VCE only supports Cisco's version of SDN, called Application Centric Networking (ACI), in it flagship Vblocks. The new converged infrastructure offering, called VCE Foundation for Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, is VCE's first to support VMware NSX.

VMware's vRealize cloud management software, which isn't included with Vblocks, is also part of the new VCE offering.

[Related: VMware Touts NSX Customer Growth, Partners Say Security Could Be Killer Use Case]

Like Vblocks, the new VCE offering is a preintegrated system running Cisco server and networking hardware, EMC storage and data protection, and VMware server virtualization and management software.

While NSX has always run well on Vblocks, the fact that VCE will be handling all integration and support for the new converged infrastructure offering will make it easier for customers to adopt, Chris King, vice president of product marketing for networking at VMware, said in an interview Thursday.

"VCE used to refer customers to VMware for NSX support, but now they'll get a one-call support experience," King said. "There is definitely demand for this sort of thing."

VCE has had a successful run and has played a big role in getting enterprises to understand the advantages of running converged infrastructure. Last October, EMC said Vblocks were on a $2 billion annualized "demand run-rate."

But at least one VCE partner, who told CRN he's had "mixed results" with Vblock deployments in his customer base, doesn't think adding NSX support is going to boost sales of the new VCE converged infrastructure offering.

"We have some customers that are using Vblocks and are very happy. Other customers can't stand them," said the partner, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his relationships with the vendors.

Cisco and VMware are locked in a heated battle over whose SDN technology is superior, and Cisco continues to tout VCE's exclusive support for ACI in Vblocks as a competitive advantage.

But Cisco sold off most of its stake in VCE to EMC last October and now owns about 10 percent of the joint venture. EMC subsequently pulled VCE into its federation and, late last month, combined its VCE and VSPEX businesses into a single $1 billion-plus converged infrastructure organization.

In light of VCE's shifting ownership, partners told CRN it's not surprising to see the company add support for VMware NSX -- in fact, it's something they feel should have happened a long time ago.

PUBLISHED FEB. 5, 2015

This story updated on Feb. 5, 2015 to clarify that the new VCE converged infrastructure offering isn't part of its Vblock product line.

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