VMworld 2011 – Invisible VDI Infrastructure: Here’s How

6a0128779ad48c970c01539140847a970bLet’s be honest: some companies just wish their infrastructure would disappear.  Now, I work for a joint venture between two of the largest infrastructure companies on earth, so while I may get some flack internally for saying that out loud, we all see where the trend is going, don’t we?  The discussion isn’t GB and GhZ anymore as much as it is orchestration and convergence, and I don’t see that trend ending any time soon…

6a0128779ad48c970c014e8b2acc51970dOne of the founding ideas of VCE and the Vblock was that there is a lot of value in making the process of building a converged infrastructure simpler, and that when given the choice, customers would prefer to purchase resource blocks that arrive pre-manufactured and configured over going through the traditional home-brew process.  I think it’s fair to say that the concept has been a complete success, as evidenced by the large number of companies and coalitions that have followed VCE’s lead.  The fact that there are companies who aren’t interested in innovation, and who don’t have the ability to actually manufacture or provide true single-call support who put out reference architectures to try and capture a piece of this market shows that the direction that VCE has chosen to take is resonating.  With that established, how can we push that model up the stack and provide additional value?  This week we started to see the strategy emerge with the release of the Vblock™ FastPath Desktop Virtualization Platform.

6a0128779ad48c970c0154350a78d4970cI’m not going to go too far into the nuts and bolts of the solution, because it’s been well documented at this point by writers much better than me!  Chuck Hollis kicked things off with this post, and Chad Sakac mentioned it as well here in a post on the newly released EMC Reference Architecture/Practioners Guide for VMware View on VNX, and dedicated an entire blog post to it here.  I think Chad has one section that sums it up perfectly:

There are three sizes (all in the Vblock 300EX sizing band), and they include EVERYTHING up through View. It is a single SKU from VCE (and available through our partner channels), supported and warrantied as a single unit. It’s cost per client is a simple proposition of total cost/number of clients – that’s price transparency (a complex answer normally with End User Computing use cases). It is an appliance after all.

Some would look at that and say “but what if I have 1300 users? And could I use it for something else if I just needed to throw it on there?”. If they can’t get past that – they are a “reference architecture kind of customer”.

Another person looks at it and says: “1300, 1500 – whatever – that’s not the thing stopping me from success, and hyper-optimizing at that degree is a waste of my time – and the people doing it are stopping my IT from moving fast enough”. If they they that way, they are a converged infrastructure kind of customer.

Both are valid – but totally different – viewpoints – which is why EMC is actively bringing BOTH kinds of solutions to the market – both available through our partners.

6a0128779ad48c970c014e8b2acca8970dThe point is that the infrastructure doesn’t need to be the driver.  It doesn’t need to be a limiter.  In fact, it can be completely invisible if that’s the best solution for the customer.  Because isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?  It’s not a storage discussion, it’s not a network or compute discussion, it’s a VDI solution discussion and the best answer is the one that satisfies the needs of the business as efficiently as possible.  Is there really a case any more that putting together a multi-vendor beauty pageant, working across internal silos to integrate and test, building home-grown orchestration and management and having to keep all of that working with a multi-vendor support arrangement satisfies the needs of ANY business?

Interesting side note: with the release of both the FastPath and AlwaysOn VDI solutions, the amount of foot traffic from interested people in the booth has been agreeably high.  Three different visitors identified themselves as NetApp customers, and shared that they were very interested in the solution simply because it would allow them to forgo the typical internal religious arguments and focus on the end-user, and that’s a very powerful statement.