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Cisco, EMC data center coalition feels on solid ground

VCE looking ahead as market leader in converged infrastructure despite competitive strain between founders

By , Network World
February 27, 2013 03:11 PM ET
Praveen Akkiraju
Praveen Akkiraju

Network World - There's been a lot of speculation on what the future holds for VCE, the converged data center infrastructure coalition formed by Cisco, EMC and VMware, in light of recent maneuvers by those companies to become more competitive and less reliant on each other in the marketplace, and with the advent of software-defined networking. VCE itself, though, is leading the nascent market for integrated infrastructure, according to Gartner, and is on a billion-dollar run rate - but also losing almost that much for founders EMC and Cisco. VCE CEO Praveen Akkiraju and CTO Trey Layton navigate the churning waters of the converged data infrastructure market with Network World Managing Editor Jim Duffy

Gartner says VCE has 57% of the $388 million converged data center infrastructure market in Q2 of 2012. What's your value proposition?

Akkiraju: There are three key aspects unique to VCE: the simplification of the data center infrastructure by breaking down the silos between storage, compute and networking; fundamentally pre-engineering and pre-testing the system before they hit the customer floor. When the system hits the data center floor it looks exactly as the customer wants it to be. We do that in an industry best 30 to 45 days. And it's operational in 48 hours. That is the unique value proposition VCE provides compared to (integrated workload and integrated reference architecture alternatives). There's also a significant reduction in total cost of operations of data center infrastructure. We publish compatibility matrix of pre-tested, certified- to-work products. And this has been proven out over 500 customers and 1,100 units deployed. Another value is application acceleration. Based on best-of-breed components, we are able to deliver up to 30% better performance on applications customers deploy.

VCE experienced 53% growth in Q2 2012 and is on a $1 billion run rate... What's your growth trajectory?

Akkiraju: We can't discuss Q3 and Q4 results since we are a private company. The industry is growing between 30% and 50% according to various analyst reports. But I can't say whether we are growing within that rate or better than the industry rate.

[PARTNERS? Cisco relationship was stressed with Nicira buy: EMC]

How do you alleviate concerns about vendor lock-in or inflexibility in choosing different vendors or different implementations?

Akkiraju: We are in the cloud revolution. You accept a level of standardization for speed and cost savings. VCE exemplifies a cloud company. We will deliver to you a standardized converged infrastructure to dramatically accelerate your ability to service your customers, or your internal business requirements and lower your TCO. Cisco, EMC and VMware are absolutely best-of-breed in each of their categories. The foundation of Vblock is truly leadership. By accepting a level of standardization on best-of-breed components, they are able to then free up their resources and dramatically enable a new set of capabilities within their IT organizations. We don't mandate application workloads or management and orchestration systems, unlike some other offerings in the marketplace. So we consider ourselves quite open.

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