Oracle Exec Hollis Offers Tongue-In-Cheek Condolences To EMC's VCE Converged Infrastructure Unit

Chuck Hollis, the longtime EMC and VMware storage executive who moved to Oracle last August, isn't bullish on the future of the storage giant's VCE converged infrastructure unit.

EMC on Monday rebranded its VCE converged infrastructure unit as the EMC Converged Platforms Division, and appointed longtime engineering executive Chad Sakac to replace Praveen Akkiraju as its president.

Hollis, who was deeply involved in the conception and execution of VCE -- a joint venture between EMC, Cisco Systems and VMware that launched in 2009 -- responded to EMC's moves by sending his condolences via twitter.

RIP: VCE (2009-2016). Now reorganized and renamed as another product group, downsizing and

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[Related: New VCE President Says 'We Would Be Crazy' To Mess Up Cisco Relationship]

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Hollis, now senior vice president of converged infrastructure systems at Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle, is well-known for trash-talking rival vendors. Oracle sells a form of converged infrastructure it calls "engineered systems" as well as a lightweight version of Vblock called the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance, so his tweet has a competitive aspect to it.

But in a blog post in November, Hollis said he believes Dell's $67 billion bid to acquire EMC, combined with senior leadership changes and a shifting of the competitive landscape that's expected to occur after the deal closes, all stand to erode the value that VCE has historically provided to customers.

VCE's flagship product is Vblock, which combines Cisco servers and switches with EMC storage and VMware server virtualization. VCE provides technology integration and unified support and sales for Vblocks, which means customers don't have to deal with three separate vendors.

But as Hollis noted in the blog post, after Dell closes the EMC deal, its technology will likely take a front seat over Cisco's. If that happens, the integrated sales, support and technology integration that VCE provides as part of its "high-touch model" could prove too costly, according to Hollis.

"Dell will eventually acquire EMC, and for all intents and purposes, VCE is now just another product group at EMC that gets to carry different business cards," Hollis said in the blog post.

Richardson, Texas-based VCE thrived despite the competitive frictions between Cisco, San Jose, Calif., and EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., at one point reaching a $2 billion annualized run rate. But EMC bought out most of Cisco's 35 percent stake in VCE in October 2014, then unveiled a product last May called VxRack, which replaces Cisco servers with white-box servers from Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta.

Dan Serpico, president of FusionStorm, a San Francisco-based VCE partner, told CRN he's still seeing strong demand for Vblocks within his customer base. "It's way too early to start burying Vblock. It's an important solution in the converged infrastructure market," he said.

However, Round Rock, Texas-based Dell's bid to acquire EMC has put a major crimp on Vblock sales since it was announced last October, as customers have put purchasing decisions on hold, sources familiar with the matter told CRN this week.

As Hollis noted in the blog post, Cisco CEO John Chambers and EMC CEO Joe Tucci were instrumental in keeping the VCE joint venture together despite competitive frictions between the vendors.

But now that Chambers has retired, and with Tucci occupied with the EMC deal, there's no one left to handle this role, noted Hollis in the blog post.

"Other than a shared desire to take care of existing customers, I don't see a lot of appetite to continue strategic investments in the original VCE construct," Hollis said in the blog post.