VCE Launches VxBlock Systems With Support For VMware's NSX

VCE expanded its converged infrastructure lineup Wednesday by delivering new VxBlock converged infrastructure systems that will offer VMware's NSX software-defined networking technology for the first time, as previously reported by CRN.

VCE, the converged infrastructure joint venture between Cisco Systems, EMC and VMware that is now majority-owned by EMC and its federation of companies, initially only supported Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) in its Vblocks.

"We're providing customer choice around the SDN capabilities," said Chris Sullivan, vice president of global channels and investor alliances at Richardson, Texas-based VCE, in an interview with CRN. "The core network will still remain Cisco-based technology with Cisco [Nexus] 9000 [switches], but on top of that a customer can now choose whether to use Cisco ACI technology out of our factory … or NSX using VMware SDN technology."

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Hatem Naguib, vice president of networking and security at VMware, Palo Alto, Calif., said in an email to CRN that NSX is "the ideal platform" for virtualizing the network running on top of VCE converged infrastructure.

"For VMware, this means customers can combine the proven agility, automation and security benefits of VMware NSX with the value VCE brings," said Naguib. "Now VCE partners can participate in this opportunity and take advantage of the market momentum through a simple way to offer VMware NSX to customers."

VCE also unveiled a Vscale architecture that Sullivan said delivers simplicity and speed at data center scale. Vscale leverages a "next-generation" converged fabric to interconnect multiple converged infrastructure systems and data center elements, according to Sullivan.

VCE also released Vision Intelligent Operations 3.0, which Sullivan said is a major update to the company's converged infrastructure management software. The software capabilities have been expanded to provide unified intelligence across multiple VCE converged infrastructure systems, he said.

A top executive from a solution provider that partners with VCE and Cisco said VCE has been focusing more on the EMC community and its designs over the past year.

"There's a stronger alignment coming with EMC to be able to do more integration with EMC storage platforms," said the executive, who declined to be identified. "Now that they've taken a step away more from the Cisco ownership model, that gives them more latitude to bring in VMware."

Cisco in October sold most of its stake in VCE to EMC and now owns approximately 10 percent of the joint venture.

Sullivan said that although VCE is now supporting VMware's NSX -- Cisco's main SDN competitor -- the company’s relationship with Cisco is as strong as ever.

"I get asked about Cisco all the time," said Sullivan. "We are just as close if not closer to Cisco than we have ever been. What is a very common mistake, I think, is to interpret Cisco's investment from a financial support perspective as a lack of commitment to VCE, and that’s simply not the case."

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco's long-term agreement with VCE "remains in place,’ said Sullivan.

"Cisco remains heavily engaged with us, heavily engaged with EMC," Sullivan said. "We don't see the relationship changing substantially from a Cisco perspective."

Overall, Sullivan said, VCE is working to offer more technologies and options for partners.

"We've been pretty rigid from a technology perspective," said Sullivan. "We're now starting to transition to more of a customer choice perspective. We're [at] a $2 billion run rate; things have continued to accelerate within our customer base."