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Cisco, EMC, and VMware join hands and plunge into cloud

Acadia, the power of three

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Cisco Systems, EMC, and VMware this morning announced the formation of a new joint venture called Acadia and a stack of data centre servers, storage, networking.

The venture will peddle the stacks, called Vblocks, for companies who want to buy preconfigured virtual and cloudy infrastructure.

The three companies have been working out their strategy for private cloud computing - based on Cisco's "California" blade and rack servers, converged Ethernet switches for server and storage networking, VMware's vSphere server virtualization, and EMC's storage - for the past year.

They are working together to fill in the respective gaps in each others' product lines and to chase what they see as a $350bn data centre infrastructure opportunity, of which they reckon about $85bn of which will be virtualized x64 gear that the Acadia partnership will peddle.

The companies will host a briefing on Acadia later today, but in the press release, they say they will offer pre-integrated and validated virtualized infrastructure. They claim this speeds up deployment and, presumably, also cuts the cost of deployment because of the integration that is done by Acadia.

You can bet that EMC and Cisco will keep most of those cost savings as profits - much as Cisco is trying to profit from converged server and storage networks on its Nexus switches and California integrated server and networking systems. The idea is also to have third party application providers, system integrators, and channel partners of the respective companies get a piece of the action. That is sure to prick up the ears of the server and storage channels that have been slammed by the economic downturn.

The feeds and speeds of these Vblock infrastructure packages were not divulged at press time, but the partners say that early customer trials have shown a 40 per cent reduction in the cost of operating and managing virtualized data centres. These numbers are consistent with the claims that VMware has made separately about its vSphere 4.0 server virtualization stack and that Cisco has been making with the California boxes.

There are three different configurations of the Vblock gear.

Vblock 0 is an entry level configuration that will not ship until 2010 but will support between 300 and 800 virtual machines running atop ESX Server 4.0, VMware's latest hypervisor and the core of the vSphere 4.0 stack. This stack is aimed at mid-sized businesses looking to deploy a private ESX Server cloud, or for test and development departments where VMware is extremely popular.

This setup includes California blades and the Nexus 1000V virtual switch from Cisco, EMC's Unified Storage (which has security provided by EMC's RSA unit), and uses vSphere to virtualize the stack.

Vblock 1 supports from 800 to 3,000 virtual machines, and adds in Cisco's MDS 9000 series of switches and Clarrion storage arrays. Vblock 2 is aimed at larger customers, and spans from 3,000 to 6,000 virtual machines, and switches out the Clariion arrays for larger Symmetrix V-Max arrays.

Cisco, EMC, and VMware are also planning to tailor Vblocks for specific vertical applications and to target specific opportunities, such as streaming applications and virtual desktops from the data centre down to end user client machines.

The three companies did not say precisely when the Vblock 1 and Vblock 2 configurations will start shipping, other than sometime in this quarter. They also did not elaborate on how partners of any of the three companies would be certified to sell Vblocks in conjunction with Acadia, but did say that authorized systems integrators and channel partners would be in on the action. Accenture, Capgemini, CSC, Lockheed Martin, Tata Consulting Services, and Wipro are ready to go today as channel partners peddling the Vblock gear.

Cisco and EMC are the majority investors (how can you have two majority investors?) in the Acadia partnership, but VMware (which EMC likes to pretend is a separate company because Wall Street has a little slice of it) and Intel have also kicked in capital to get Acadia growing. Acadia will be operational in the first quarter of 2010, and the Vblocks will be available from Cisco and EMC and their designated channel partners in the meantime. ®

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