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Storage players' lovechild VCE flashes fresh flash additions

Debuts VDI-specific Vblocks, opens arms to VNX2

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VCE, the lovechild of Cisco, EMC and VMware, hits the storage world with a trio of announcements: a pair of VNX2 and vSphere 5.5 implants; Oracle-specific Vblock; and a VDI Vblock using XtremIO all-flash array technology.

Vblocks are converged server-storage-and-networking systems made up of Cisco UCS servers and network switches, similar to Nexus, EMC storage arrays and VMware server virtualisation software. Customers are said to like them because they are simpler to install and faster to deploy than buying the components separately.

VCE is co-owned by Cisco, EMC and VMware, and is financed with a dash of Intel's cash. The company has had some success in the last few years, reporting that it has 1,200 Vblocks used by 600 customers, a billion dollar-a-year run rate, and revenues growing 50 per cent year-on-year, comparing the second quarters of 2013 and 2012.

The number of deployed Vblocks is not that large but you can't sniff at a billion dollar-a-year run rate. What VCE is announcing are these four things:

  • Vblock 340 – integrating EMC VNX-2, UCS M2.2 and vSphere 5.5
  • Updated version of VCE Vision Vblock operational management software
  • Vblock systems specialised for Oracle
  • Extreme applications Vblock

The Vblock range starts at the 100, and goes on to the 200, the new 340, and the bigger 720. Specialised systems accompany these. The flash cache-featuring 340 system includes:

  • Cisco B420 M3 blade server
  • EMC XtremSW flash cache
  • Cisco Nexus 3048 switch
  • EMC VNX arrays
  • VMware vSphere 5.5 Server Enterprise Plus
  • AMP-management

It replaces the previous Vblock 300, delivering up to four times the performance and twice the capacity.

The specialised Oracle Vblock isn't called the ExaVblock by the way (joke), and VCE says it is a "purpose built, super-scalable Vblock Specialised System for millions of IOPS" intended for massive Oracle databases.

The extreme applications Vblock is one for virtual desktops – a VDI Vblock – and it uses all-flash array technology. This is a VCE announcement, not an EMC one, and EMC hasn't yet said anything about full availability of its XtremIO array. Could it be an all-flash VNX?

Nope, for VCE's website proclaims:

Data storage is based exclusively on EMC XtremIO random access flash media, ensuring unparalleled performance in the millions of IOPS with sub-millisecond response times.

Unfortunately it doesn't tell us any more.The XtremIO product has had a status of "directed availability," meaning limited availability, since March. This use of it by VCE suggests strongly there will be a full availability announcement soon.

The upcoming Vision VCE Vblock management software update delivers:

  • Push button updates of new patches and software releases
  • Integrations with 3rd party toolsets
  • vCenter Operations Manager OEM
  • Management infrastructure enhancements

VCE is also offering cloud accelerator services and is enhancing its channel services with various new tiers; gold, silver, authorised and so on. More on the partner program in a VCE blog.

Vblock System 340 is available immediately. Vblock Specialized System for High Performance Databases (Oracle) and Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications (VDI) are targeted for availability in Q4 2013. VCE Vision Intelligent Operations 2.5 is targeted for availability in Q4 2013. VCE Cloud Accelerator Services are available immediately. ®

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