I feel like this conversation will never die, maybe thats just because most of the social media channels I follow includes lots of people from VMware, Cisco, EMC as well as other storage vendors. Last week, Cisco acquired WhipTail – one of many all flash storage vendors, this of course started the yearly “End of VCE” type posts and comments and why I am basically re-writing my post from last year after VMware acquired Nicira.
All companies must grow, expand and respond to customer demand – customer demand right now is flash so why wouldn’t Cisco want to add expanded flash capabilities to their line up? The thought there is that this would upset EMC, thus add another preverbal straw the the VCE camels back. Now, before I go to far, let me start by saying I have no insider knowledge on any of this and much of my current thought process assumes that VCE operates in the black, without any funding from the parent companies, and quite honestly at this point if they are not they are doing it wrong.
Computers, storage and networking hinge on one thing – interoperability. If some vendor, lets use an imaginary company called Apple, decided to make a super awesome product but kept that product very closed from the rest of the world, it might sell a good amount of those products, but the cool factor would eventually fade and companies would gravitate towards the vendor that is more likely to work in their unique environment.
So, if you were EMC – would you build a product that was closed, and didn’t work with the number #2 server provider in the world? That would probably be a bad idea. If you were Cisco, would you make your products not work with the number #1 virtualization platform that your customers are using? Probably also a bad idea. EMC, NetApp, VMware, and Cisco will all make sure there products work together, and work together well. They will also continue to have a love / hate relationship, because at the end of the day their working together ultimately helps their sales.
So you agree with me? Wait you don’t…oh is that because of all the rumors about Cisco acquiring Citrix, and thus XenServer and XenDesktop which would supposedly upset VMware just one year after VMware upset Cisco? Yes, I get it, is there bad blood somewhere within the companies – I’m sure there is. Is it going to get the better of the relationship – I would tend to doubt that. There are also lots of benefits, not counting Xen that would make Citrix acquisition good for Cisco. For starters, Cisco has never got load balancing correct; acquiring NetScaler would certainly be a step above anything I have ever seen Cisco produce. The conferencing side, you can’t tell me that WebEx support is not biggest piece of junk with a straight face, its WebEx meetings wedged into something it was never meant to be, GoToSupport (while not perfect) is certainly an upgrade. GoToMeeting, if there were able to keep it (VirtualizationPractice.com thinks that might end up being broken out and I’d have to agree) could be good as far as adding features to WebEx. While acquiring Citrix for just NetScaler is clearly cost prohibitive, Cisco having Xen doesn’t change the fact that UCS, MDS, Nexus and all the other Cisco products still need to play nicely with other devices. I see a Citrix acquisition by Cisco simply as a product offering to companies not necessarily tied to VMware, and I believe it would need to be more of an SMB focus that would compete more with Nutanix and VRTX for smaller IT shops than it would EMC or VMware.
Now, as it relates to VCE I can see a world, where regardless of any hatred between V, C or E could, and should continue to survive. This, again, all presumes that VCE is profitable without the influence of funding from any of the capital letters which they should be. VCE’s value proposition – at least to me, is not the pretty metal racks they make, or screwing a UCS chassis into said rack, it has nothing to do with the hardware – schlepping hardware is just the smallest part of what VCE offers. VCE is about… interoperability and support. I can build a DIY “vBlock” – I wouldn’t say easily but its not like there is any secret sauce there – its a VNX, UCS blades, Nexus switches and VMware. The reason why VCE should work as a company is because they have a value add to the products I already want to buy. I want UCS, I want a VNX, I want VMware – and when I have a problem I can call VCE and not have to arrange 10 calls between 3 vendors.
Even if one of the letters were to get so pissed and pull their product and not allow VCE (as a stand alone company to sell it), I would still consider VSE (VMware, SuperMicro and EMC) a viable offering, or VLN (VMware, Lenovo and NetApp). Heck why not V3H (VMware, 3Par and HP)? VCE’s value add, to me as a consumer/user of what they sell is not in just the hardware, its the tested, racked and delivered product AND the single phone call I make to get it all and support it all.
Companies are going to try to improve, they will try to compete, they will trend to get a foot in on new trends. At the end of the day all the products need to work together and a company, whether its VCE or some other company that can offer a high level of support for various products would be a company I’d want to do business with.
P.S. – Why no articles on VMware upsetting EMC with VSAN? Isn’t that the same argument? Featured image via http://www.bradreese.com/blog/10-17-2012.htm