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We were right: EMC's VSPEX will take on FlexPods

Sub-Vblocks built by channel

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EMC has devised a set of converged server system reference templates called VSPEX, offering complete application, soup-to-nuts modular stack designs to be sold and built by its Velocity Partner channel.

Customers get faster and simpler implementations while EMC's channel gets additional high-margin business with EMC selling and marketing help. The systems are generally not as powerful as the VCE Vblocks and not delivered by EMC as products.

VSPEX is being introduced against a background of Cisco and NetApp extending their Flexpod converged stack architecture downwards and IBM introducing its PureSystem single product converged stack. All these converged systems aim to take away varying amounts of the pain involved in customer IT departments implementing IT systems based on buying and integrating components at each stack layer.

EMC says customers should see faster implementations and reduced management and operational procedures as well as, hopefully, lower costs than those encountered with a DIY approach, if they choose VSPEX systems.

There are 14 initial VSPEX configurations, but details of these have not yet been made available.

The main stack layer components are as follows:

  • Management is via System Center for Microsoft cloud and VMware's vCenterOperations Management Suite.
  • VSPEX systems are designed to run Oracle, Microsoft and SAP applications in a private cloud or to operate in a virtual desktop environment.
  • Hypervisor applications run as virtual machines under VMware's ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V or Citrix XenServer. ESX and Hyper V are used for private cloud applications in EMC's scheme with VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop as the virtual desktop hypervisors, supporting from 50 to 2,000 virtual desktops. The number of virtual machines varies in the private cloud case, with 0 to 250 under ESX and 0 to 100 with Hyper-V.
  • The server components are either Cisco UCS or Intel rackmount X86 servers.
  • Networking: VSPEX connects to the outside world through Cisco Nexus or Brocade switches. We are awaiting more information on the supported protocols.
  • For storage EMC is offering VNX and VNXe with both block and file access, data deduplication, compression and Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST). Avamar and Data Domain backup products are included.

EMC partners can customise VSPEX systems to better meet customers' needs. They could, for example, add their own management software.

VSPEX systems will be co-branded by EMC and Velocity partners such as Avnet, Azlan, Ingram Micro and Magirus. These partners can brand the server and networking components themselves.

The partners have access to EMC-provided VSPEX Labs and its cloud infrastructure to test, validate and demonstrate designs, and check out application performance and management. We understand distribution and alliance partners are building their own equivalent of VSPEX labs to help scale the validation process.

EMC will help with go-to-market activities such as marketing campaigns, demand-generation tools and possible financial incentives. It will also provide complete configuration and sizing guidelines for the most common workloads.

It seems likely that VSPEX goes lower down the IT scale in terms of the number of supported users than Cisco and NetApp's FlexPods, with VCE's Vblocks going higher up the scale than FlexPods. EMC considers that VSPEX is more open than FlexPod as there are more component choices partners and customers can make.

Additional VSPEX configurations may be provided by EMC based on partner demand. For example, a VMAX-based VSPEX could be a future possibility. No price or availability information was provided by EMC. ®

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