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Vblock tags in Vxblock: Move is a 'simplification' for punters

We drill into Cisco-Dell-EMC mini-shakeup

By Chris Mellor, 23 Jun 2017

Dell EMC's converged infrastructure portfolio is changing. The Vblock – with its Cisco Nexus 1000v switch – is going away, while VxBlocks – with software-defined networking – are taking over.

Cisco 1000v switches out, VMware switches in, Cisco-Dell relationship gets flakier; is that the story?

The Vblock and VxBlocks are products in Dell EMC's converged infrastructure (CI) portfolio of rack-scale systems. They combine servers, storage and networking from Cisco and Dell EMC in an integrated, buy-as-a-single-entity system.

The range started with the Vblock (Cisco servers and networking, Dell EMC storage) and the VxBlock was added in March, 2015 featuring VMware's software-defined networking (SDN) product NSX, or Cisco's SDN competitor/equivalent offering, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

The Vscale Architecture specifies the portfolio of converged and hyper-converged platforms and compute, storage and data protection extensions that comprise converged Vblock and VxBlock Systems, and VxRack and VxRail appliances.

President of EMC Global Systems Engineering, Chad Sakac, said nearly 90 per cent of Dell EMC customers were choosing the VxBlock rather than Vblocks and have been doing so for some time. They prefer VMware's software switch to Cisco Nexus 1000v switches. He said customers either want to deploy SDN immediately or have the option of doing so in the future.

The need for third-party virtual switches in vSphere has also declined, with the vast majority of customers choosing the VMware virtual switch. We understand VMware is stopping support of third-party virtual switches in vSphere 6.5. This would trigger a Vblock to VxBlock move.

The change from Vblock to VxBlock reflects the fact that customers are voting with their feet, according to Sakac. "It's simplification for them and for us," he blogged on Thursday. "Starting on July 1st, we will only offer VxBlock Systems going forward as our CI offer."

He told us: "The Cisco content in VxBlock and Vblock are 99.9 per cent the same. It continues to use UCS. It continues to use Nexus 5K, 6K and 9K hardware. The ONE thing that changes is that the software switch inside ESXi is VMware, not Cisco. That one change is a tiny fraction of revenue, and, ironically, use of the Nexus 1000v software switch actually closed the doors for customers using either ACI or NSX SDN options."

A Dell EMC statement said: "We will continue to sell additional Vblock expansions (eg, adding more drives) and supported Converged Technology Extensions (eg, adding a Technology Extension for Isilon to a Vblock System) and minor enhancements through June 30, 2020. We also will continue to offer service and security patches through June 30, 2022."

Sakac said Vblock customers can stay with Vblocks until 2022 or switch to VxBlocks via a simple service offering.

He said the Cisco–Dell EMC relationship is not getting flakier. Software-defined networking is becoming more and more popular. Vblocks are being abandoned in favour of VxBlocks are. So Dell EMC and Cisco are merely reflecting customers' choices.

Here's a Cisco statement from Tim Rod, director of Sales Business Development: "Vscale customers are some of Cisco's largest ACI and Converged Infrastructure customers and we are excited to continue the real success we have had together with Dell EMC. Our mutual customers are the real beneficiaries of this innovation."

Separately, Dell EMC and Cisco are expanding the Vscale architecture, with these additions:

  • Single Point of orchestration, automation, and security for compute, network, and storage – UCS Director in conjunction with Cisco ACI automation reduces the risk and time to onboard services.
  • Vscale Border Technology Connect – Cisco Nexus, ASA and Firepower, ISR and ASR, assure secure, high-performance data communications between the Vscale resources and external networks.
  • Vscale Open Technology Connect – Cisco Nexus and MDS service for third-party equipment integration maximizes ROI of Vscale and non-Vscale assets through resource sharing.
  • Vscale Fabric Technology Connect for storage – All-flash Dell EMC Unity, XtremIO and VMAX storage and Isilon NAS optimize application performance and cost of scaling out storage.
  • Cisco Advanced Services for UCS Director and ACI deployment and Dell EMC Vscale Services speed data center modernization and time-to-business results.

The net:net of all this is that Cisco 1000v switch-powered Vblocks are going away, to be replaced by VMware virtual switch-networked or ACI-networked VxBlocks. Cisco and EMC are extending the Vscale architecture. No big deal is what both Dell EMC and Cisco are saying about EOL'ing Vblocks. Customers benefit, we all win. ®

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