Dell EMC Execs To Partners: Aggressively Sell VxRack, VxRail, Especially If You Don't Want To Deal With Cisco

The leaders of Dell EMC's commercial and enterprise sales businesses are openly encouraging channel partners to push hyper-converged infrastructure solutions that don't depend on Cisco technology.

During a Q&A with several hundred partners at Dell EMC World in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, Chief Commercial Officer Marius Haas and Enterprise Sales Chief Bill Scannell said partners should be aggressively selling VxRack and VxRail hyper-converged solutions as opposed to Cisco-based converged solutions like Vblock.

[Related: Michael Dell's Vision For Partners: 'It's You And Your Customers' Driving The Future Of The World]

The comments came in response to a question from a Dell-exclusive solution provider in the audience who was concerned he would have to become a Cisco partner in order to sell converged solutions through VCE.

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Scannell said partners interested in selling Dell EMC's portfolio of converged and hyper-converged solutions could do so without dealing with Cisco.

"We don't use Cisco servers in our VxRack, or VxRail, so you shouldn't have to be a Cisco partner to sell those," Scannell said. "You can start positioning to sell those products today."

Scannell said that while the bread-and-butter Vblock system will continue to use Cisco servers and networking gear, other converged and hyper-converged lines do not.

"A Vblock will always be VMware for the hypervisor, it will always be Cisco for UCS and Cisco for ACI for network virtualization and it will always be EMC for the storage and back-up," Scannell said. "We have another version, which is the Vxblock, which can be a variation of Vblock. It will always be EMC and VMware, but you can use non-Cisco servers if you want to. Today we are using non-Cisco network virtualization, we're using VMware NSX. So you should not be forced to be a Cisco partner, but if you want to go out and position Vblock, you are going to have to be knowledgeable about it."

Haas drove home the point. "Aggressive VxRail and VxRack," he said. "You can do that today."

CRN has reached out to Cisco for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

Dell EMC introduced VxRack and VxRail systems optimized for Dell PowerEdge servers during the Dell EMC conference Wednesday.

In a separate address, Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO Michael Dell said Cisco remains an important networking partner for Dell EMC, and noted that Vblock sales have increased by double digits in recent years. Dell EMC has a "very important [networking] alliance with Cisco around Vblock," he said.

Dell and Cisco are server market arch enemies, though Michael Dell and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins have repeatedly pledged their commitment to the VCE alliance.

Partners predict that partnership will be more difficult to maintain in the wake of Dell's $58 billion acquisition of EMC, which was completed in September.

Scannell's and Haas' comments are a clear indication that while Dell EMC will continue to partner with Cisco, the relationship will come under pressure as the market begins to move away from converged infrastructure and toward hyper-converged, said Scott Harper, director of territory sales at Softchoice, a Toronto, Ontario-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC.

"The focus for Dell EMC is toward VxRail and VxRack, and I would even say more toward the Nutanix strategy than it was a year ago," Harper said. "The preferred strategy will be VxRail. Vblock is really a converged infrastructure, but we see a lot more growth in hyper-converged than converged. Dell EMC does have to partner with Cisco to support existing customers and strategies, but where they can influence decisions, they'll move toward the Dell EMC-exclusive solutions."

EMC and Cisco came together with VMware in 2009 to form converged infrastructure powerhouse VCE, which is now known as the EMC Converged Platforms Division.

Eighteen months ago, VCE rolled out VxRack, a hyper-convergence solution that uses white box servers rather than Cisco servers. Not long after, Cisco introduced its own hyper-convergence solution, HyperFlex, in partnership with software start-up Springpath.