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Cisco, EMC Expand Cloud, Data Center Offerings

EMC's VMware is central to the partners' Virtual Computing Environment.

Cisco and EMC expanded their partnership Tuesday, tightening their data center and cloud computing links as they move to capture more IT infrastructure. The new offering, called Virtual Computing Environment (VCE), is glued together by EMC's VMware even as it draws on the traditional networking strengths of Cisco and the storage power of EMC.

The ambitious effort is tailored to appeal to customers with as many as 6,000 virtual machines and as few as 800 virtual machines. Cisco and EMC have been working aggressively on expanding their tentacles beyond their traditional markets ever since EMC welcomed Cisco as in investor in its VMware company in the summer of 2007.

"This coalition is about more than technology and partnership," said Cisco CEO John Chambers in a statement, as he pointed to new data center opportunities. "It is about an entirely new and unique approach to the data center that improves utilization, power consumption, and security of information, all in a way that lowers the total cost to the customer, not via a box, but with a network-based architectural approach for optimizing virtual resources."

Initial customer trials of VCE's basic building pieces called Vblock Infrastructure Packages have resulted in cost reductions up to 40% for operating and managing virtualized data center infrastructures, Cisco and EMC said. The approach builds IT strategies around private clouds with Vblock Infrastructure Packages that contain a myriad of features that enable a global community of systems integrators, service providers, channel partners, and independent software vendors to participate in the deployment of VCE .

In addition, other major IT players are participating in the rollout of VCE including Intel -- another early investor in VMware -- whose Xeon processors and other Intel data center technology are involved. Intel is a major player in a new joint venture with Cisco, EMC, and VMware called Acadia, in delivering the Vblock architecture to customers. Acadia, designed to quickly transfer Vblock infrastructure to organizations eager to accelerate moves to virtualization and the private cloud, is expected to begin serving customers in early 2010.

EMC introduced its Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager to Vblock. EMC RSA security products have also been developed for use with Vblock packages.

"(Customers) need to be able to shift more of their IT budgets to the development and rapid implementation of new technologies that help their organizations create differentiated business advantages," said Joseph Tucci, EMC chairman and CEO, in a statement. "Many of them understand the vast potential of the private cloud. With shared roadmaps and a long-term commitment, the Virtual Computing Environment coalition will bring true accountability."

The announcement will draw a sharper line between Cisco and EMC on one hand and other IT providers like HP and IBM.

Cisco and EMC have been aggressively acquiring companies in recent months with EMC staying closer to its storage roots while Cisco has been ranging far and wide, picking up companies in consumer electronics to video conferencing to networking. EMC has been parlaying its VMware acquisition across wide swathes of computing.

"Customers are increasingly looking to virtualization to dramatically improve the performance and flexibility of their exiting IT systems," said VMware president and CEO Paul Maritz. "Today's announcement provides a compelling vision and set of roadmaps valuable to any company looking to harness cloud computing in a fundamentally more pragmatic and nondisruptive way."


Attend a Webcast on the application grid approach to modern data centers. It happens Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. Find out more and register.

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