Converged Infrastructure & Why or Why Not VCE?

Converged Infrastructure & Why or Why Not VCE?

Searching for the term converged infrastructure online yields thousands of results. Thousands of different opinions and approaches, with each vendor telling you why their solution is superior. As a CxO, VP of IT, or Director of Infrastructure, how do you decipher all of this data and pinpoint the best decision for your business? Should you hire a consultant to show you the right path? Should you have the top vendors parade in one by one and provide a proof of concept on their solution? I have my own opinion on the different solutions out there, but what kind of a critical thinker would I be if I limited myself to my own opinion?

As a resident technology expert at IDS, my job is to explore and recommend solutions for our clients. Vendors are often telling me why their solution is the absolute best, but I’ve been in the IT world long enough to realize that no vendor has the silver bullet for every situation. The purpose of this article is to get input from people that are looking, testing, and purchasing converged infrastructure.

Exploring the Development of Converged Infrastructure Solutions

The talk around converged, I feel was spawned from the Cloud movement. If it was possible to have data in places other than a data center and pay less to manage it, why couldn’t there be a solution to take back control of the silos in the data center? This would allow us to manage, support, and upgrade in a simpler way. The idea being we have data that we want to keep inside of our four walls, but need an easier way to maintain it.

This idea made way for top officials at EMC to propose a solution to top brass at Dell to create an all-in-one reference architecture. Dell did not think much of this back in 2008-09 and felt the industry would not move in this direction. EMC felt otherwise and discussed this idea with top brass at Cisco and wanted to use their “California” solution they were working on for this idea. Cisco agreed and a partnership was formed that included EMC, VMWare, Cisco and Intel and was known as Acadia. In 2012 Acadia became VCE and the reference architecture gave way to a more rigid product call vBlock. Now in 2015 we have all types of architecture from the coalition (VCE), such as Vspex, vxBlock, vBlock, and vBlock with technology extensions. This product has become the biggest player in the converged solution offerings and has a positive track record. This has led to so many others coming out with CI offerings that have made me wonder, are others following VCE or have they found a better mouse trap?

I remember not long into 2010, HP came out with their Blade Matrix solution. This was an all HP solution using Blades, EVA storage, HP networking/Virtual Connect and Blade system matrix management console with Insight Dynamics. The claim of this solution was you could provision everything from the management console, which had a drag and drop template builder. This solution has changed names many times and I believe they are at Cloud Matrix now. The only problem was you had to use everything HP and most clients had different storage and networking already integrated in their data centers. This solution never really took off for HP like Vblock did for VCE, but why? HP has a solid server and storage offering. Was it the Virtual Connect portion of the offering that did not go over well with clients? 80% of all clients were or are running Cisco, so maybe the thought of adding an extra hop to the network may not have been desirable. I was never able to find a concrete reason why HP did not experience success with their solution.

What Do You Think?

Now we have solutions from SimpliVity, Dell, NetApp, Nutanix and many others, which brings back to why I ask the question: “does VCE offer the best solution?” They are the largest and shipping more vBlocks/converged infrastructure than any other player in the market. Is that enough proof to call them the best? Are there clear reasons why other players like HP didn’t have success with their solutions?

Please comment below with your input, I am looking for all points of view to further the conversation around converged infrastructure.