Industry News Desk
Cisco, EMC, VMware & Intel Form Acadia JV
They have also formed what they call the Virtual Computing Environment coalition
By: Maureen O'Gara
Nov. 3, 2009 07:15 PM
Cisco and EMC Tuesday kicked off a cloud-chasing joint venture called Acadia that includes VMware and Intel as minority investors.
Presumably they took the name from the ancient Greeks who used the word to mean a refuge or idyllic place and not the uprooted and deported North American Acadia captured in Longfellow's magnificent tear-jerker "Evangeline," although Cisco's new enemies IBM and HP may try to persuade users that it is.
Anyway, Cisco, EMC and VMware - with at least the encouragement of their silent partner Intel - have also formed what they call the Virtual Computing Environment coalition to push on-premise and hosted private cloud computing created out of Cisco's Intel Xeon-based Unified Computing Systems (UCS) and networking, EMC's storage and security and VMware's virtualization to large accounts and service providers through third parties.
The coalition, which will claim more of their resources, talent and investment than the joint venture, will consist of an ecosystem of VARs, service providers, channel partners and ISVs and to start includes the big system integrators Accenture, Capgemini, CSC, Lockheed Martin, Tata Consulting Services and Wipro.
It's supposed to advance Cisco's fortunes in the data center against IBM and HP, both of which are ticked at Cisco's temerity in daring to try to break into servers - and neither is likely to be any happier with this alliance. Their only consolation may be that Cisco's boxes haven't gotten a ringing endorsement from users - at least not yet.
What they might like even less, however, is EMC CEO Joe Tucci's contention that no one company can deliver everything that's needed in this leg of technology and that he and his mates have a major leg up on the kind of collegiality that will be needed going forward, the kind of partnership that - according to Cisco CEO John Chambers - "will change the data center and the cloud forever."
The three companies are going to be pooling their roadmaps and sharing and relinquishing control of their most sacred customer information to each other. And Chambers said the "leap of faith" involved in such a situation "begins at the top," adding "I trust Joe with my life." Chambers, by the way, once worked for Tucci and their relationship goes back decades.
McKinsey estimates that the market they're shooting for will be worth $85 billion by 2015, or 20% of worldwide spending on data center infrastructure and services.
Acadia is characterized as an accelerator for users that want to get out of the blocks fast. It and the coalition are going to peddle and support what are called Vblock infrastructure packages - integrated, tested, validated, ready-to-grow configurations of the quartet's virtualization, networking, computing, storage, security and management technologies.
The companies say that early Vblock customer trials have delivered up to 40% reductions in the cost of operating and managing virtualized data center infrastructures, a major come-on.
The first kits out the door this quarter from third parties include a mid-range Vblock 1 and a high-end Vblock 2. An entry-level Vblock 0 is due next year.
Vblock 2 supports 3,000-6,000 virtual machines and is built out of Cisco's UCS boxes and Nexus 1000v and Multilayer Directional Switches (MDS); EMC's Symmetrix V-Max storage and RSA security; and VMware's vSphere platform.
Vblock 1 supports 800-3,000 virtual machines and uses EMC's CLARiiON storage.
Vblock 0, when it gets here, will support 300-800 virtual machines and use EMC's Unified Storage. It will target medium-sized businesses, small data centers or organizations and be used for test and development by channel partners, systems integrators, service providers, ISVs and customers.
Pricing on Vblock, which won't brook any substitutions of outside hardware or software, is hard to pin down because each account will be different but will range from hundreds of thousands to many millions of dollars.
The companies said the widgetry can scale with additional computer and storage claiming that's a key differentiator compared to other people's monolithic systems.
Their calling card will be virtualization because it's the hinge on which the whole door swings. VMware CEO Paul Maritz says that the triumvirate is also working to ensure that users can get out of the cloud as well as into it. It's not meant to be, as the song says, the Hotel California from which there is no escape.
EMC has also come up with Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager for Vblock, which is designed to support a wide range of enterprise management consoles. EMC's RSA security is layered on the Vblock architecture for policy management of identity, data and infrastructure but doesn't mean the customer has to reduce the security software it already has in place.
The companies mean to bring out other Vblock packages including virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
Chambers said the companies are working on "seven or eight things," but identified none of them.
Besides pre-sales, the coalition will hawk a bunch of professional services including a Cloud-based Business Advisory Service, Private Cloud Strategic Impact Advisory Service, Private Cloud Architecture Impact Advisory Service, Virtual Desktop Advisory Service, Cloud Computing Strategy Service, and Vblock Design and Implementation Service.
Acadia, meanwhile, is supposed to build, initially operate and ultimately transfer Vblock infrastructure to the customers, half of which are likely to be end users and half service providers.
The engagements - and they're only talking about a "modest number" of accounts that want to get up fast - should run from 18 months to three years. The companies see Acadia as something of a knowledge repository, heavy on white papers, and training. There will be problem re-creation labs. It should begin customer operations in Q1. It reportedly has no signed contracts yet.
The infrastructure-as-a-service Acadia venture will have its own CEO but the companies haven't picked him yet. They're recruiting. Otherwise Acadia will consist of 130 people described as the trio's "top talent."
The companies aren't explaining how much was or will be invested in the venture or by whom only that EMC and Cisco are the principals.
The coalition's management is more amorphous. Supposedly the three CEOs are running it; more practically they've delegated their senior lieutenants to see it thrives day-to-day. This bears watching to see how it shakes out since there's not real quarterback.
Where EMC's Atmos cloud widgetry may or may not fit in the grand scheme of things is unclear.
Based on broad hints from the companies, which were already joined at the hip, the Wall Street Journal got wind of the joint venture in September and said it was code named Alpine. They've reportedly been working on it for the last three-and-a-half years, intently the last six months.
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