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EMC VSPEX: It’s All About the Channel

I’ve been reading with some interest the various takes on EMC’s VSPEX announcement in San Francisco yesterday, many of which are putting VSPEX into the category of a converged infrastructure offering, something akin to EMC’s own VCE.  But I think these characterizations miss the point.  Yes, the initial launch of VSPEX features 14 pre-qualified hardware/software configurations designed to provide a full server/storage/networking and virtualization solution.  And yes, the launch stage featured the backdrop of a row of VSPEX hardware chassis under the labels of large distribution partners.  So the launch event had some of the look and feel of a VCE-like offering.

But I believe that VSPEX is really about enabling the channel.  EMC Velocity partners – from large distributors to small regional resellers and integrators – that up until now have had to assemble and qualify converged hardware/software solutions on their own, can now start with a series of reference architectures and pre-validated multi-vendor solutions.  There’s not a lot of choice at each layer yet, but it’s a start, and over time EMC has pledged to provide further options.  EMC will be making its lab facilities available for partners to qualify and test additional configurations, so the means are in place to expand VSPEX offerings.  The initial comments and “background chatter” I heard from EMC partners – including some international ones – were quite positive.

EMC has no doubt seen the success that its subsidiary VMware is having in building a highly productive, multi-tiered channel, and VSPEX demonstrates to me that EMC is taking its investment in channel development more seriously than ever before.  The reported investment of 600 engineers and some $3 billion in VSPEX is a testament to EMC’s channel commitment.

The sweet spot for VSPEX is mid-market customers, not big enough to afford VCE, but savvy enough to know that it’s a heck of a lot easier and probably more cost effective in the long run to buy an integrated solution that’s been pre-qualified and tested, versus trying to buy and assemble the pieces themselves.  In effect, VSPEX gives these smaller customers a faster and more sure-footed path to virtualization and the cloud.

VSPEX will help ease the complexity of the pre-sales cycle for EMC technology and channel partners, while in most cases providing an opportunity for a larger sale.  Channel partners like to recommend integrated solutions that they know will work, without forcing customers into buying only a single flavor of each component, so from that standpoint, VSPEX is a step in the right direction.

VSPEX will certainly help EMC to compete more effectively with NetApp in channel-driven sales to small and medium enterprises, and in the process, accelerate sales of VNX storage.  So all in all, the VSPEX initiative feels like a “win” for all participants.  We’ll see how it all shakes out in the next few months.

  • Premiered: 04/13/12
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): EMC Virtualization Channel VSPEX


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