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Taneja Blog / Data Center Systems / Software Defined/Virtualized Infrastructure

Potential impact of Dell Buying EMC for VCE Customers – It may be a good time to try HyperConverged

Over the past year I have been interviewing customers asking them why they prefer HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI) along with their legacy infrastructure issues. The complexity of their 3-tier architectures combined with a big up front capital expenditure were far and away the most frequent reason for the switch. Even with the improved ease-of-use with converged 3-tier products like EMC VCE, customers routinely see complexity and cost as key reasons to switch to HCI. In one recent interview a customer says there is only one administrator on site that has the expertise to manage a VNX and if that person walks out the door they are toast. Conversely, once they switched to HCI anyone on staff can administer the infrastructure. When talking to VCE customers often times they brought up concerns over the strategic relationship between Cisco, EMC, and VMware. Given the numerous articles and blogs already written about the Dell/EMC merger I thought I would give an opinion on the potential impact for VCE customers as the inevitable tension between Cisco and Dell/EMC increases over time.

How Dell/EMC and Cisco deals with the many VCE customers that have now come to rely on Cisco UCS compute and Nexus switching for their converged infrastructure products will be one of the biggest challenges of the numerous that come with the merger. My belief is both Cisco and EMC/Dell are too pragmatic to start an all-out war and will continue to stand behind the Vblock offering for some time. However, EMC/VCE have already started distancing themselves from Cisco by offering VxBlock systems based on alternative infrastructure partners. Expect that the VxBlock platform will shift to Dell servers and rather than actually change Vblock products based on Cisco, VCE will push VxBlock with Dell servers in most sales situations.

I would recommend that customers of VCE start to look at alternatives, as change is certainly in the air -- not only for the compute infrastructure but the storage infrastructure as well. VCE currently offers VNX, VMAX, XtremIO, ScaleIO and VSAN options for the storage infrastructure within its converged offerings. Now throw in Dell’s complete portfolio of mid-range storage and things get confusing very quickly. The proof will be in the pudding when a VCE Vblock customer needs an infrastructure refresh. Will the Cisco sales team push NetApp-based FlexPod versus the VCE team pushing Dell server-based converged offerings or will they actually still cooperate? Rather than wait for that to play out it may be a good time to try out a hyperconverged approach. You can start small and grow as needed without being locked into a big capital purchase for a product that may not be around for the next five years.

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