Cisco, VMware, EMC: It’s A VCE Channel Love Fest
VCE — backed by Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), VMware (NYSE: VMW) and EMC (NYSE: EMC) — is taking some key steps forward. The virtual compute environment company, now at a $1 billion annual run rate, today launched a management platform and new Vblock solutions for the mid-market, branch offices and SAP's Hana. Equally important, the VCE team seems keenly focused on media and channel partner engagements — two critical requirements going forward. Here's why.
In recent months, some critics (including The VAR Guy) have wondered if VCE and its financial backers could remained aligned. Indeed, Cisco and the EMC-VMware combo could wind up competing on some fronts as software-defined networks and software-defined datacenters begin to take hold, conventional wisdom suggests.
But today's announcement suggests VCE's backers will cooperate even as they potentially compete in some areas. EMC and Cisco say VCE Vblock demand now has a $1 billion run rate, with more than 1,000 Vblock systems sold so far.
Among today's announcements:
- VCE Vision Intelligent Operations: This software, VCE claims, enables partners and customers to focus on converged infrastructure management. Open APIs will protect investments in existing management platforms, VCE said, though The VAR Guy doesn't know if application developers are writing to the APIs.
- Vblock System 200: This is designed for mid-market customers and sold through the channel.
- Vblock System 100: This targets remote office and branch office deployments. VCE expects partners and customers to use this system for Exchange, Virtual Desktop Integration (VDI), SharePoint and Cisco Unified Communications, among other opportunities.
- VCE Specialized Systems: The idea is to offer channel partners systems that are optimized for specific workloads. This includes the Specialized System for SAP Hana.
VCE's channel partner program now involves more than 200 partners, according to D. Martin, VCE VP, Global Channels. "Our partner criteria is fairly selective," he said. "We look for the best data center partners in the industry and our certification requirements are fairly high. We're growing the partner base rationally."
Partners now drive the majority of VCE's sales, Martin added, with partner-generated revenue growth outpacing VCE's overall growth.
The VCE enhancements arrive at a strategic time. VMware Partner Exchange, one of The VAR Guy's Top 100 Channel Partner Conferences of 2013, runs Feb. 25-28 in Las Vegas. IBM PartnerWorld, another Top 100 channel event, runs the same week in the same city. IBM will surely talk about converged data center opportunities — as did HP this week during HP Global Partner Conference.
HP suggested that it's crazy to think a multi-vendor solution can remain aligned and deliver better integration than HP's own converged data center offerings.
VCE is out to prove HP wrong. The latest steps involve the Vblock System 200 and 100 series. Will partners take notice? The VAR Guy is watching.