Cisco, EMC and VMware announced an alliance/coalition/joint venture with the hopes of pushing forward the use of virtualized environments in general and cloud computing in specific. If nothing else, this move is likely to recast partnerships and alliances throughout the IT industry. It is a bold move that changes the environment in a major way. This move is not without risk for these partners. Now that they're offering complete system solutions, it may be more difficult for them individually or as a group to play well with others.
Here's what they had to say in their announcement
The Virtual Computing Environment coalition offers organizations of all sizes an accelerated approach to data center transformation with dramatic efficiencies that promise significant reductions in both capital and operating expenses. As a result, organizations will no longer have to choose between best-of-breed technologies and end-to-end vendor accountability.
With the introduction of Vblock TM Infrastructure Packages, the Virtual Computing Environment coalition will provide customers with a fundamentally better approach to streamlining and optimizing IT strategies around private clouds. Vblock Infrastructure Packages are fully integrated, tested, validated, and ready-to-go/ready-to-grow infrastructure packages that combine best-in-class virtualization, networking, computing, storage, security, and management technologies from Cisco, EMC and VMware with end-to-end vendor accountability.
The coalition will scale customer adoption of Vblock systems by enabling a global community of systems integrators, service providers, channel partners, and independent software vendors (ISVs). The coalition has also established unified presales, professional services and support capabilities to simplify customer engagement.
In unveiling the Virtual Computing Environment coalition, Cisco and EMC also introduced Acadia, a joint venture focused on accelerating customer build-outs of private cloud infrastructures through an end-to-end enablement of service providers and large enterprise customers. Acadia's unique "build, operate, transfer" model for delivering the Vblock architecture, addressing people, process and technology, will offer customers further choice, flexibility and cost advantages as they seek to virtualize their IT infrastructures and evolve to private cloud environments. In addition to Cisco and EMC as the lead investors, the build-out of Acadia's expanded capabilities in 2010 has also been capitalized by investments from VMware and Intel. Because the Vblock architecture relies heavily on Intel Xeon® processors and other Intel data center technology, Intel will join the Acadia effort as a minority investor to facilitate and accelerate customer adoption of the latest Intel technology for servers, storage, and networking.
It is clear that the industry is seeking the recreation of the mainframe, this time using industry standard system components and sophisticated virtualization technology. This has resulted in the explosion of the concept of a mainframe into separate individual components, each of which is hosted on different industry standard system. User Interface, application rules processing, data management and storage management have all become separate "services" that are likely to be hosted on different systems.
Once the move to that logical extreme was completed, it became clear that the complexity of the environment could easy overwhelm organizations' ability to manage and fully utilize the environment. So, a move to re-aggregate functions to minimize this complexity.
Many suppliers of industry standard systems, including Dell, eGenera, HP, IBM and now this new alliance/coalition/joint venture are putting forward blade computing systems combined with network routing, data management or some other function to address the ever-growing complexity of the environment.
It is not at all clear that organizations' will find this cycle of disaggregation and re-aggregation useful or desirable. What is clear is that the partners of Cisco, EMC and VMWare who create competitive solutions will sit up and take notice. Will suppliers, such as Dell, HP or IBM, feel comfortable bringing any of the partners in this alliance into their customers' environments again? Why would they bring in obvious competitors? This is likely to have a negative impact on these relationships.
EMC is likely to experience only minor changes. It is in open competition with all of these suppliers now on a number of fronts.
Cisco is likely to experience ever increasing changes in its relationships with partners such as Dell, HP or IBM. Each step into become a system supplier increases the likelihood that they will retaliate by developing and offering their own networking equipment.
VMware is already facing strong challenges from Microsoft and Citrix for the ownership of the virtualization technology market. Oracle, Sun and Red Hat would also like to take their share of the pie as well. This announcement won't change those dynamics at all. VMware's partnerships with hardware suppliers might suffer.
Will this move be successful? Well, that's not at all clear. We'll all have to watch how Cisco, EMC and VMware execute their plans. This could be a wild success or it could turn out like many other such alliance - a grand announcement followed by a quiet demise later.