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Remember CVE? Say hello to CVN

Cisco, VMware and NetApp start their own gang

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Move over EMC: NetApp is also partnering with Cisco and VMware. In an imitation of the CVE (Cisco, VMware and EMC) vBlock integrated stack concept, Cisco, NetApp and VMware have settled on an integrated stack architecture - without the orderable integrated blocks of product and an Acadia-like entity.

The CVN coterie have defined what they call a secure multi-tenancy design architecture. They co-operate to present united professional support, and products adhering to the architecture will be sold by mutual partners in what is described as an open partner ecosystem.

The CVN architecture is focussed on implementing heavily virtualised IT systems for private and public cloud deployments, and includes Cisco USC servers - we initially thought it wouldn't - virtualised by VMware, Cisco Nexus Ethernet switches and NetApp storage arrays. The VMware products included are vSphere, Shield Zones, and vCenter.

Cisco's Nexus 1000V, 2000, 5000 and 7000 switches are included with 10GbitE connectivity between them, the UCS servers (which include FCoE) and NetApp filers with MultiStore, Data Motion and both NFS and iSCSI access, but not FCoE. End-to-end FCoE is waiting on standardisation efforts to complete.

The CVN trio say the architecture is a validated design for end-to-end and secure multi-tenancy. It isolates applications across network, servers, and storage, and so separates confidential information between business units, customers, departments, or security zones. IT components in the architecture have been tested on-site at NetApp's Triangle Park research facility in North Carolina.

Customers will buy IT systems that comply with the architecture from partners, mutual system integrators and channel partners of the trio. They will design and implement IT structures using authorised products in the architecture. There is no separate Acadia-like implementation and handover company.

Existing partners include Cognizant, Forsythe, MSI, and Trace/3.

For the support scheme to work customers must have support contracts with Cisco, VMware and NetApp. They say their support organisations will resolve interoperability issues, bringing in engineering resources if required. The support is global in scope and 24x7 in availability.

It must be said that Cisco and VMware know all about multi-tenancy. Both are now joined at one hip with EMC and the other with NetApp. That Sunnyvale company is joined with Microsoft, which itself has just announced a big integrated IT stack deal with HP.

Major differences between the CVE and CVN partners include the non-inclusion of orderable integrated IT stack product (vBlocks) from the CVN trio and a lack of defined configurations meeting the architectural requirements. Instead, CVN partners have, as it were, a set of authorised lego blocks and a 210-page architectural document which they use to design virtualised data centre systems.

NetApp's John Rollason, an EMEA marketing manager, said: "The validated products in this architecture are Cisco Nexus series and UCS, all NetApp FAS [products], and VMware vSphere. The architecture allows flexibility in the exact hardware product specified within these ranges. The hardware specified (such as which FAS system and which Nexus switch) will depend on customer application requirements.”

Customers are supposed to take note of this because, if they buy CVN architecture products, they get streamlined operations and more efficient, hopefully less expensive data centres. Partners should join in because they can design systems with less risk, using pre-tested and validated design architectures, and get more opportunity to add value and make a bigger profit.

There is no branding, as yet, for systems adhering to the architecture. There is no news of any direct financial commitment by the CVN trio to their architectural scheme, although of course they have and are committing resources to it. In effect, this is a three-way channel partner scheme with an integrated stack design architecture, including nominated products from the three suppliers. That's all.

It's going to have an impact because of its scope and timing, which links it to the Cisco-VMware-EMC vBlock deal, HP's in-house Matrix scheme, the expected Oracle-Sun combination, and the HP-Microsoft FrontLine arrangement, in which $250m has been dangled in front of our eyes in terms of engineering and allied effort.

If you say "show me the money" in the CVN deal then there isn't any, at least, not directly identified dollars up front. This - and the obvious ability and willingness of the three players in the scheme to partner elsewhere for the same integrated IT stack purposes - means that the CVN secure multi-tenancy design architecture may, in the short term, be under-whelming in a marketing sense. We'll have to see how it pans out. ®

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