Cisco And EMC Chase Midrange Customers With Smaller Converged Systems
February 25, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM is not the only one chasing midrange shops with converged systems. Last week, the Virtual Computer Environment partnership between Cisco Systems and EMC rolled out a new line of Vblock converged systems that the companies hope with help is radically expand its channel and then its customer base.
The VCE partnership, which also includes server virtualization juggernaut VMware (which is majority-owned by EMC and therefore no matter what anyone says, this is still an EMC-Cisco partnership), stacks up Cisco’s C Series rack servers and Catalyst 3750-X switches, EMC’s VNXe 3150 disk arrays, VMware’s vSphere Enterprise Plus server virtualization stack, including its ESXi 5.1 hypervisor, and the Nexus 1000V virtual switch for that hypervisor into a half-rack setup that can run from 50 to 200 virtual machines. That Vblock System 100 has three to eight two-socket C220 M3 two-socket rack servers with the disk array having 6TB to 8TB of disk capacity. In an entry configuration, it costs $180,000, or about $3,600 per VM.
The larger Vblock System 200 machine is the same basic design, but comes in a standard 42U rack and has from four to 12 servers and anywhere from 14 to 105 disk drives in its EMC VNX disk arrays and uses Cisco’s Nexus 5548 converged switches to manage both storage and server traffic (using Fibre Channel over Ethernet). The base Vblock System 200 costs $350,000 and has a beefier version of the Nexus 1000V virtual switch. It is not clear what the disk configuration or scalability limits are for the Vblock System 200, but it probably can handle 200 to 300 VMs and tens of terabytes of disk capacity.
The interesting bit, as far as I am concerned, is that these entry converged systems are based on racks servers and rack switches, not on the “California” Unified Computing System chassis, which is a modular and integrated design that IBM has emulated with its own PureFlex systems and Flex server nodes. I guess small shops can’t afford the premium that Cisco and EMC want to charge for the real UCS iron. This may leave an opportunity for IBM to pitch a baby PureSystems machine that mixes Power and X86 server nodes in a single chassis, as I have been suggesting that Big Blue offer for the past year–ahead of the “Project Troy” machines that launched as PureSystems, in fact.