A Public League for the Private Cloud

Cisco, EMC, VMware partner for virtualization of data centers.

Cisco Systems Inc., EMC Corp. and VMware Inc. joined forces to create a Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition to promote data center virtualization and private cloud deployments.

In a related move, Cisco and EMC announced a joint initiative called Acadia, which focuses on fostering private cloud deployments in both the enterprise and service provider segments. VMware and Intel Corp. are contributing financial backing to Acadia.

Cisco leapt into the virtualization and cloud spaces earlier this year with the Unified Computing System (UCS) launch. With UCS Cisco sought to pivot from its enterprise networking expertise into the data center hardware segment.

With VCE, Cisco and its partners plan to emphasize the importance of a tightly integrated virtual-computing architecture, as distinct to turnkey or blackbox offerings.

"This coalition is about more than technology and partnership. It's 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," said Cisco CEO John Chambers in a statement.

Nevertheless, the VCE does traffic in package offerings. For example, Cisco, EMC and VMware introduced "Vblock Infrastructure Packages," technology and services bundles that integrate virtualization, networking, compute, storage, security and management technologies.

The move comes as Microsoft is calling on partners to choose Microsoft virtualization technologies over VMware's offerings, although that's generally at the lower end. While Microsoft is claiming to approach parity with VMware in server virtualization technologies, VMware has a clear lead in the virtual data center management technologies that the new alliance emphasizes.

Market watchers are cautiously optimistic, including industry veteran Charles King, a principal with consultancy Pund-IT Inc. King says the presence of industry heavyweights and the flexibility of the coalition's membership responsibilities (VCE players are free to partner with other, non-VCE vendors) trend strongly in its favor.

"[T]he VCE coalition allows Cisco, EMC and VMware to present clients a single face and common responsibility while preserving the partners' independence. That is, while the three will contribute significantly to VCE, they will also continue to work closely with various partners and with clients who prefer other vendors' products," he notes.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.