Vblock: Catching on with Managed Services Providers?

At Cisco Partner Summit, several influential VARs said they are working closely with VCE -- the joint venture organized by VMware, Cisco and EMC -- on Vblock, the integrated virtualization, storage and infrastructure solution. Meanwhile, there are signs that Vblock could catch on with managed services providers in Europe. The story involves Magrius, a European solutions provider and distributor that promotes vBundle, a configuration of Vblock that targets the the “low-end small to mid-sized market.”

Generally speaking, there hasn't been that much buzz about Vblock in the managed services market. But some companies spotted the Vblock opportunity early. Nimsoft, for instance, actively promotes its managed services software for maintaining Vblock data centers. The Vblock noise has grown louder this week, especially since VCE CEO Michael Capellas -- the former Compaq CEO -- keynoted Cisco Partner Summit. Capellas predicted cloud computing will be the mainstream IT architecture within 18 months. Also, there are signs VCE will launch a dedicated channel partner program for Vblock soon.

European Move

Meanwhile, there's Vblock buzz in Europe -- where Magrius announced a 50 percent discount on vBundles for resellers and their clients. The offer applies only in the U.K. and is good through the end of April. The spokeswoman said the discount caters to end-users with a year end of April 5. That’s when the U.K.’s tax year ends. More than 50 resellers, including some MSPs, have engaged on vBundle products across Europe, according to the spokeswoman. For resellers, the vBundle has a lower certification requirement compared with Vblock. That’s helped to spur uptake.

Iron Bow Technologies, meanwhile, this week announced its status as a qualified partner for Vblock. Iron Bow, a solutions provider based in Chantilly, Va., focuses on the government space as well as commercial customers in sectors such as law, manufacturing and medical.

Iron Bow said it has obtained technical certifications and partner designations for all of the Cisco, EMC and VMware products within the Vblock platform. The company has been working with Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS), for example.

Jim Smid, data center practice director for Iron Bow, said Vblock extends UCS into the cloud.

“While UCS is ideal for server consolidation and creating a computing platform for delivering cloud capabilities, Vblock provides the UCS portion preconfigured with all of the required storage, networking, and software to provide a complete cloud infrastructure,” Smid said.

The federal government is pushing for both data center consolidation and greater use of cloud computing, so Iron Bow’s Vblock certification appears well timed.

Installing Vblock for customers provides one channel outlet. But in some cases, partners deploy Vblock as the basis for providing their own cloud and managed services. CSC’s CloudCompute infrastructure as a service platform, for example, is based on Vblock. That cloud offering was announced earlier this month.

The management of Vblocks marks another area of activity. MTI, a European MSP, and Nimsoft have collaborated on the creation of the Nimsoft for Vblock monitoring product. Vblock has some potent companies behind it, but the technology still needs localization to take root among customers. And that’s where distributors, VARs, and MSPs come in.

Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri. Sign up for MSPmentor’s Weekly Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. Follow us via RSS, Facebook, Identi.ca and Twitter. Check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com. Read our editorial disclosure here.
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