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Inside Acadia: the Cisco, EMC, VMware love child explained

A chip of the old vBlocks

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As El Reg reported earlier Tuesday, Cisco Systems, EMC and VMware announced a partnership to peddle integrated server, storage, and networking stacks to data centers that want to buy preconfigured and integrated x64 servers running VMware's vSphere 4.0 software.

Cisco and EMC had already let the cat out of the bag before the big chiefs had a chance to talk to the world about a coalition the companies have established and the Acadia joint venture.

So we listened to the companies' head honchos during the official announcement for greater detail and some clarification about what Acadia is - and what it is not. Also, what precisely will be bundled into those Vblock infrastructure bundles.

John Chambers, Cisco's chief executive officer controlled the show as he tends to at these things given Cisco's market capitalization dwarfs that of EMC and VMware. Joe Tucci, EMC's president CEO and chairman, got to say a few words, as did Paul Maritz, president and CEO of EMC subsidiary VMware.

Chambers likes to wax poetic, and he said that he believed that when we all look back five years from now, we would see that the coalition between EMC and Cisco was a pivotal moment for data centers. IT vendors are always saying things like this, of course.

After ribbing Tucci about only giving Cisco a few per cent stake in VMware, Cisco's commander said customers of EMC and Cisco alike had been asking for them to offer a more integrated setup for virtualized server and storage. Customers, in a "not too gentle nudge," Chambers said, have been telling them if they just integrated the components, they would buy more. And hence, with Vblock infrastructure stacks, they are doing just that.

But, Chambers said, he knows the history of the IT market. "Most strategic coalitions have a higher degree of failure than acquisitions," he admitted, and later in the call he said that acquisitions were only successful about 10 per cent of the time.

But this coalition - formally known as the Virtual Computing Environment coalition and that is not the same thing as the Acadia joint venture - different. Why? Because because of the 20-year relationship between Tucci and Chambers, and the partnership between Cisco and EMC - as well as VMware.

And after all the presentations were done, Tucci made the same point about a coalition being inevitable. "You show me the one company that can do this by itself," Tucci said. "So you have to form coalitions."

Cisco, EMC, and VMware know the VUE coalition cannot be the only way to buy the hardware and software that the companies peddle for profit, and they have no intention of only selling their products collectively through a quasi-united sales effort.

Tucci said all three companies would continue to sell their menu of products, but the Vblock offerings were akin to a prix fixe menu without any substitutions. This is the definition of openness that these three companies are using. Openness does not mean running Hyper-V or XenServer hypervisors on Vblocks, it does not mean using NetApp or Hewlett-Packard storage on Vblocks, and so on.

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