This week, VCE announced that it was adding a new capability: more flexibility in the Vblock configurations to address a broader set of needs. Given that Vblocks are already praised because they can do almost anything asked of them, the fact that they could be even more flexible is actually kind of amazing. Let’s look at that this week.
VCE was created for a unique kind of customer, one that basically wanted a data center designed nearly completely for today’s kind of loads, using the best that current technology could offer. It isn’t a mismatched set of products or a patch on an aging mess of components. What VCE delivers is about as close to a complete enterprise-scale IT solution, soup to nuts, as you can get in today’s market. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, VCE has been very successful.
So the VCE concept is less like buying a new refrigerator and more like buying a new kitchen. The benefits are well documented: around a four times faster time to deployment at scale, five times time to provision new services once the system is up, a 96 percent reduction in downtime from whatever it replaces and a 50 percent reduction in data center costs. These numbers came from a 2013 IDC research study.
This mostly comes because this is a converged infrastructure product at scale. Now, I’ve spoken with VCE customers over the years and they are a fascinating bunch. They share that their people generally don’t believe VCE claims and fight VCE deployments, and then once VCE systems go in, are often embarrassed to find they outperform the claims. In most cases, I think it is some kind of a turf issue, because there is enough solid evidence that Vblocks work that I can’t see how anyone could argue successfully that they don’t. And you’d think being wrong at this scale would be career limiting (and based on some candid conversation with the CIOs that drove through the VCE implementations, they didn’t have much of a sense of understanding for the folks working for them that made the approval process difficult).
It is actually a very unique company, more than a partnership but less than a fully merged entity. It allows VMware, Cisco and EMC to compete as if they were HP or IBM, but also compete individually. It is the brain child of Joe Tucci, EMC’s creative CEO, and it will likely go down in history as one of the most creative and brilliant organizational moves ever made.
VCE has announced a series of things. These include a new all-flash converged infrastructure system focused on improving speed, improved system choices for new and existing Vblock systems, and pushing what it calls the “VCE Experience” out to the edges. These edges now more aggressively include hybrid cloud solutions, which increasingly have been demanded by more and more companies.
The goal is to better address a higher diversity of workloads, allowing client companies even greater performance for a diversity that moves from high-end databases and analytics, to client hosting, to render farms and pretty much anything else a data center is asked to do.
Generally, while VCE’s Vblocks have been used in a massive variety of ways, optimization for any one has been lacking. This announcement adds the flexibility that was lacking to assure these diverse use cases are even better optimized. Extensions for compute, for storage, and for networking can be added depending on the use case as well, making for a far more customized solution than VCE has ever offered.
This may slow down system configuration slightly, because more choices generally do that, but the end result will be far more diverse and far better tuned than otherwise would be the case.
Wrapping Up: Adding Agility
VCE is maturing and beginning to accelerate. It has the core right, or based on those IDC numbers, more than right, and now is adding increased flexibility in the mix. VCE’s Vblocks were pretty amazing up until now and they’ve just been juiced by a set of improvements, making them even more flexible. I expect this is an early showcase of the kind of thing we will expect from VCE in the future. For the companies that can consider a VCE solution, it just became much more interesting, and for those fighting one, that path just got a lot harder.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+