Cisco, EMC and VMware coalition nets unified management software for virtual, cloud environments

EMC contributes Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager software to Cisco, EMC and VMware’s Virtual Computing Environment coalition.

EMC Ionix portfolio provides integrated, unified element manager for Vblock as part of Cisco, EMC and VMware coalition established to enable collaboration among the IT vendors.

Cisco and EMC, and subsidiary VMware, this week revealed their plans to advance data center technologies via the Virtual Computing Environment coalition, which could have EMC ultimately providing management software to span heterogeneous virtual and cloud computing environments.

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According to EMC, the coalition news also incorporates the company’s recently re-branded, integrated management software portfolio. As part of the news blast, EMC also introduced Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager software, which the company says is “designed to support a wide range of enterprise management consoles.”

EMC says the product will manage Vblock Infrastructure Packages that are, according to press statements from the coalition members, “validated platforms of engineered, integrated IT infrastructure from Cisco, EMC and VMware, that deliver a breakthrough total cost of ownership and pervasive virtualization at a scale to meet today’s most demanding use cases.”

Industry watchers say with several management software acquisitions under its belt, EMC is able to provide significant configuration and change management technologies to its customers. For instance, the company purchased nLayers for application discovery and mapping technology in 2006. The next year the EMC picked up Voyence for its network change and configuration management technology. EMC acquired ITIL software maker Infra in 2008, and in 2009, EMC bought Configuresoft for its server configuration technology. All these buys could help EMC provide the configuration know-how needed to handle next-generation environments, according to Forrester Research.

“EMC has built up a remarkable [configuration and change management] portfolio. The nLayer discovery, coupled with Infra, Voyence and Configuresoft, gives EMC Ionix an edge over the competition in CCM. Data Center Insight is certainly the best solution on the market today,” an October Forrester Research report reads.

Still, EMC is missing some key components required for a complete data center management package. Advanced tools for application performance management would help the vendor, Forrester says, but it does have strength in managing the virtual world. The problem could be displacing existing vendors.

“EMC Ionix may be building for the future, but its competition is present in the data centers today and may be difficult to dislodge tomorrow,” the report states.

But not all industry watchers are convinced the coalition will enable the three vendors to advance their management and other technology efforts via partnerships with third-party vendors, not directly involved with the Virtual Computing Environment coalition.

“It seems like EMC and Cisco are trying to merge without merging -- and dragging VMware along for the ride. Even if they can pull off the coalition, I think it will be challenging for either the coalition or the individual companies to effectively partner with any other vendor,” says Jasmine Noel, principal analyst and co-founder of Ptak, Noel and Associates. “It will be interesting to see whether VMware's leading market share is sustainable as other partner relations cool off. Just look at what happened to Cisco's relationships with IBM/HP/Sun after it announced unified data center.”

One management software maker involved in Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) launch earlier this year says its relationship with Cisco remains unchanged following the news of the coalition.

“BMC BladeLogic is still the only systems management offering integrated and OEM’ed by Cisco for UCS and this [news] in now way changes the business relationship between BMC and Cisco,” a BMC spokesman says.

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