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EMC VSPEX storage torpedo could sink FlexPods

Top-secret kit rumoured to be aiming to unseat Cisco offering

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Comment The consensus among storage insiders is that NetApp and Cisco's FlexPods are in EMC's sights with its coming VSPEX validated bundle of bits.

El Reg storage desk thinks the thing may be FlexPod-like. So rather than being a "product" like the VCE Vblock, VSPEX may be an architectural template or reference document specifying a converged server/networking/storage/hypervisor/security/management stack that EMC's channel can then use to build systems for customers.

The thinking here is that EMC's channel has seen the penetration of FlexPods, the Cisco/NetApp reference architecture, and said it wants an equivalent product. At the same time EMC and Cisco have realised that, although VBlock and FlexPod configurations partially overlap, there is a gap below the low end of Vblock configurations – which is a good channel opportunity for an "EMCpod", a FlexPod-like system with alternate product choices at the hypervisor, network and server levels of the system's stack.

Thus, for example, we anticipate various rackmount X86 servers can be used from Cisco (UCS C-series), Dell, HP and IBM. It may be that blade servers could be used but this would take VSPEX compute power up to Vblock levels and EMC may feel that it does not want to compete directly with the Vblock in this way.

Either Cisco or Brocade Fibre Channel switches could be used, El Reg storage desk believes this is a Fibre Channel-access and Fibre Channel (FC) internal network device, in the sense that FC interconnects the servers and the VNX storage arrays. EMC may make an iSCSI version of VSPEX and or a filer version. Both of these options would separate VSPEX from Vblock more.

We don't think that a version of VMAX running application software, as floated here, is so likely. That will happen at some stage in the future but is unlikely at this juncture as it would be a Vblock competitor and, besides, would diminish choice, server choice, rather than increase it. We could be mistaken, of course.

Cisco can hardly complain about EMC doing this as Cisco itself is having a menage à trois with EMC (Vblock) and NetApp (FlexPod) and, besides, it will probably sell a few more UCS servers as a result.

EMC will be able to better compete with the other three main server vendors – Dell, HP and IBM – and their channel partners offering complete stacks using compute, network and storage components from their server partner.

Will VSPEX offer VFCache, EMC's server flash cache product? We expect so. Why forego an opportunity to make an EMC packaging of a Dell, HP or IBM server go faster than the basic product on its own?

We could envisage RSA security being involved, as well as backup to Data Domain and management by Ionix. That's the thinking in Reg's storage rumour central. ®

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