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VCE zaps vBlocks with shrink ray

Stack-in-a-box vendor wants wants to bundle ISVs into appliances

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VCE, the stack-in-a-box vendor jointly owned by EMC, Intel, VMware and Cisco, is working on smaller versions of its vBlocks and also plans to build versions of its products optimised to run certain applications.

VCE Chief Technology Officer Trey Layton said the company is already working on an eensy-weensy vBlock for organisations that have between 50 and 100 seats. Another smaller vBlock will serve the 200 to 500 seat crowd, a population that Layton said probably means a branch office of a big company.

Layton said these new vBlocks are about six months from seeing the light of day, and will later be joined by vBlocks configured to run a single application. One likely version of those dedicated appliances, Layton told The Reg at vForum Sydney, is a vBlock built around Cisco's collaboration software. Others will emerge as VCE convinces software vendors that bundling their wares into its locked-down configurations will make life easier for their customers by reducing the likelihood applications will be undermined by the vagaries of diverse underlying technology stacks.

VCE is chasing such ISVs, Layton said, and will use them as a channel to take the smaller vBlocks to market.

Layton said building the vBlocks is easier than building the software that makes them hum. Kit construction, he said, is something the company necessarily had to come to terms with quickly, and while new technologies like faster versions of Ethernet and solid state disk will need to be integrated into vBlock designs the more important challenge is making sure vBlocks are manageable. That means making sure vBlocks can describe themselves well to third-party management frameworks, and also impart information about their constituent components to diverse audiences – sysadmins, business types and infrastructure wonks – so that everyone gets what they need.

Preparing vBlocks to deliver that information, Layton said, can only happen thanks to its investors being willing to indulge VCE with top-level briefings. Layton named dropped Pat (Gelsinger, VMware's CEO), John (Chambers, Cisco CEO), and Joe (Tucci, EMC CEO) as folks in whose presence he spends time learning about those roadmaps.

Layton sadly declined to reveal the contents of his recent conversations with Pat, John and Joe, but did smile broadly when emitting a colossal understatement to the effect that enjoying access to the three means he has a jolly interesting job. ®

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