The newly inked coalition between EMC, Cisco and VMware will open up more opportunities for channel partners to deliver cloud computing infrastructure, several industry players claim.
The trio’s technology and services partnership is split into two components: The Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) alliance to develop integrated products; and the Acadia joint venture to assist customers and partners install and use these solutions.
The VCE alliance will develop Vblock Infrastructure Packages incorporating server, networking, storage, security, virtualisation and software technologies, while Acadia will have its own CEO and an initial staff of 130. Cisco and EMC are lead investors in Acadia, while VMware and Intel are minority investors.
Australian representatives from all three vendors stressed a commitment to delivering their integrated technologies through channel partners.
“A lot of partners had reservations about committing to cloud computing, managed services and the private cloud,” EMC commercial and channel sales manager, David Henderson, told ARN. “Our message to partners is that they are critical in this opportunity, and that the alignment between these three vendors – EMC, Cisco and VMware – is a way to build an ability to deploy cloud computing to their customer base.”
According to VMware managing director, Paul Harapin, operational elements of the datacentre were often challenging to address when taking on transformation changes such as virtualisation.
“If we can have the technology story with all that together, then partners can bundle this with their own professional services and accelerate these offerings into the market,” he said.
Details on what certifications and training partners will need to undergo have not yet been revealed, but local partners such as Brennan IT, Dimension Data and NetStar are already backing the VCE approach. Dimension Data Australian chief marketing officer, Gerard Florian, was optimistic about the opportunities the coalition opened up.
“Over the years, plenty of vendors have come out with strategic alliances and so on, but there’s not a lot behind them. This [VCE] has cash and strategic intent behind it,” he said. “We’re already a major partner of all three, so it’s a perfect position for us to be in to see them collectively try and address the issue of how our customers can take an infrastructure-as-a-service approach.
“Delivery so far has been more around software, but getting the standard building blocks to support that infrastructure have not been as easy as customers would like.”
Florian saw the announcement as particularly significant for customers building business applications, as well as services providers with multi-tenant products looking to grow a market presence. He wasn’t overly concerned about the impact of VCE upon DiData’s other relationships and pointed out all three vendors continued to work with other players separately.
“We continue to work with a number of different people to put together solutions,” he said. “The reality of life is that we have to partner with many organisations.”
UXC subsidiary, XSI, is a VMware and EMC partner but hasn’t previously dealt with Cisco. Managing director, Glenn Gray, was supportive of the coalition’s objectives but said it needed more details to adequately judge the impact on its integration business.
Long-term, Gray was confident the coalition would be a force to be reckoned with because of its dominant size and scope. He also claimed integration and unification of networking, storage and virtualisation elements was inevitable.
“Critically for us, it doesn’t preclude us working any other partners,” Gray said. “Long term, tighter integration of these aspects is the way to go.
“One thing we are looking as a result of VCE is better integration with our sister company, Getronics, who is a major Cisco partner – this solution allows us to be more tightly integrated with them.”
Gray agreed some customers may be wary about vendor lock-in, including those already standardised on other platforms.
“I think there will need to be some flexibility on that as well,” he said. “And we’ve all got to be careful with Microsoft, the 100-pound gorilla in the room.”
Brennan IT has built capabilities around Cisco in its voice and data division, works closely with VMware, and has ramped up engagement with EMC over the last 24 months, chief operating officer, Chuong Mai-Viet, said.
“It doesn’t mean we are discounting other vendor products,” he said. “We are still a big HP house. Cisco is very datacentre-centric, and we have many mid-market clients that still have four or five servers in their office. Cisco won’t be in that market anytime soon.
“We’re also evaluating the Microsoft space and will probably build a hosted platform for the SME market on that as licensing costs are significant reduced. For the upper mid-market and enterprise/cloud environment, VCE is great. I think the three vendors are just doing with HP and IBM have already done, which is provide an end-to-end solution.”
EMC’s Henderson hit back at claims the proprietary nature of the VCE could be a “showstopper”.
“It’s no different to any other technology alliance – it’s up to customers to determine what’s best for their environment,” VMware’s Harapin added. “If partners see value in the three vendors, then they will get that. If they don’t see value or have different needs, then we will cater to those.”