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VCE updates converged infrastructure amid increased competition

The VCE company will deliver new specialized Vblock systems next quarter, including one for extreme applications that caught partners' attention.

VCE converged infrastructure customers want better system support in a timely fashion and the upcoming Vblock systems and software appear to answer the call.

The new offerings are a sign that VCE has become less rigid in its approach to converged infrastructure as competition in this market increases, and quicker to respond to customers' requests for new system support.

In particular, the forthcoming Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications, which will include EMC Corp.'s new XtremIO all-flash array and Isilon scale-out NAS, has interested VCE's value added resellers (VARs).

"There have been times VCE has been slow to market with new offerings from EMC and Cisco," said Mark Vaughn, consulting principal with a large VAR. "I see [XtremIO and Isilon's] inclusion in the updated Vblock portfolio as a significant addition."

The XtremIO array, now in beta, will be appealing for high-I/O applications like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and also includes inline data deduplication and self-healing features, Vaughn said.  

VCE has also responded to some customers' wish lists with more innovation in its Vision One software, according to Russell Temple, director of the data center practice group for VCE VAR Insight Technology, based in Tempe, Ariz.

The new software will perform automated patching of systems within the Vblock, a valuable tool for customers managing complex converged infrastructure, Temple said.

Converged infrastructure competition heats up

Since VCE's launch in 2009, more converged infrastructure vendors have come on the scene with innovative and flexible designs, according to Vaughn, who cited startups like Nutanix Inc. and SimpliVity Corp.

"These companies have a smaller initial footprint, and can then leverage their residency in the data center to expand," Vaughn said. "It will be interesting to see how they stack up to VCE's ‘One support number to call,' which becomes more important at scale."

Meanwhile, Cisco Systems Inc. recently acquired Whiptail for its solid-state storage arrays, to offer its own servers-to-storage converged infrastructure independent of VCE; another VCE member company, VMware Inc.,  introduced its own NSX virtual networking and VSAN data storage software. Oracle Corp. is also in this market with its Exadata systems, as is Hewlett-Packard Co.

"It's going to be a good fight over the next year or so," Vaughn said.

More VCE systems

In addition to Vision One software and the Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications, VCE also took the wraps off its new 340 system, which features the latest VNX-2 multiprotocol storage arrays from EMC, and Cisco's c240 blades for its Unified Computing System. The Vblock 340 has a starting list price of $715,000 and is shipping now according to a VCE spokesperson.

VCE will ship another Vblock Specialized System, this time for high-performance databases, in the fourth quarter. This system will consist of EMC's VNX or VMAX arrays with Fully Automated Storage Tiering and Cisco UCS servers with server-side Flash cache.

Pricing for the Vblock Specialized Systems will not be available until the fourth quarter. In general, Vblocks can cost anywhere from $180,000 to just under $1 million.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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