VCE, the company that started off as a joint venture between VMware, Cisco, and EMC, has been highly successful in simplifying the process of deploying converged infrastructure. Its flagship product, Vblock, enables customers to deploy a private cloud using a converged system from the three founding vendors. As widely deployed as VMware, Cisco, and EMC are, most customers do not have the skills to deploy the three sets of infrastructure in an optimized way. I've discussed this challenge with VCE and they've told me there are literally hundreds of thousands of configuration parameters, and VCE has done all of the heavy lifting to remove the complexity of deployment (disclosure: VCE and Cisco are clients of ZK Research).
This week, VCE announced the next evolutionary step in its Vblock system with the integration of Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) to enable policy-based infrastructure. While Cisco's ACI falls under the larger umbrella of “software defined networking,” it's actually broader than the network. ACI does include SDN capabilities but it can be used to define policies on infrastructure based on the requirements of business applications. The policies can be used to optimize performance, resource utilization, security compliance, and data governance mandates. The infrastructure ACI controls and orchestrates is everything in the application stack, including network, storage, layer 4-7 services, security, orchestration, and other technology components. ACI has a very broad list of ecosystem partners, including F5, IBM VMware, Microsoft, and other key data center providers. A full list can be found here.
ACI has a tremendous amount of potential to modernize data centers, automate processes, and orchestrate services. However, many organizations may not have the technical skills to deploy it themselves, or the business may just want to get it up and running as fast as possible to start reaping the benefits. For those organizations, ACI on Vblock is an excellent option.
Since its inception, the VCE value proposition has been accelerating the deployment of data center technology without the associated complexity risk. ACI on Vblock is a logical extension of that strategy. This becomes particularly important in the digital era, where new types of applications such as mobile, social, cloud, big data, and Internet of Things are being deployed. These new application types have different requirements, and even the most technically advanced businesses will need to go through some trial and error as they deploy SDNs and converged infrastructure. VCE can greatly simplify the process.
Also, last year VCE rolled out its Vscale Architecture to scale the infrastructure up and out at cloud speed. This is an added benefit for ACI customers, as now the deployment can start small and then scale the infrastructure as needed.
If you're a Cisco customer, particularly a Nexus and/or UCS customer, I suspect you're likely looking at ACI. If the deployment of the technology seems intimidating or too slow to meet your business goals, consider ACI on Vblock from VCE, as it's a simpler, faster way to get the ACI ball over the goal line.