Last week’s announcement that Cisco has acquired Cloupia is one that I was excited about on a number of levels. First, the Cloupia team, including Raju Penmetsa, their CTO and Raju Datla, their CEO have been great to work with and I’m excited to see their hard work pay off. It couldn’t happen to nicer guys.
Secondly, it’s fantastic that Cisco was the one to pull the trigger here. Cloupia has long led the way in UCS orchestration, and since they interoperate with most of the existing Cisco partner ecosystem already, it was a natural fit. It also provides a fully integrated management, orchestration and service delivery platform that can have complete visibility and functionality across storage, network and compute, something that will serve Cisco well as their portfolio and partnerships expand. I get the sense that this was exactly where Cloupia wanted to end up, as rumor has it that Cisco wasn’t the first company to express an interest in the privately held firm.
Finally, it provides customers with another quality option to look at when deciding which UI they want to choose to manage their infrastructure. In this regard, I’m of the opinion that the more choices the customer have, the better. Each enterprise has different requirements, different legacy artifacts to manage, different staffing levels and abilities and different cost models to work with. More choices means that there is a higher likelihood that the customer will get a product that is closer to what they want.
From a VCE standpoint, this is where being a joint venture with Cisco, EMC and VMware really rocks. We’ve known the Cloupia guys for a while, just like we knew the DynamicOps team before they got acquired by VMware. Now, we’ll get to have complete internal access and input into the future direction of the product, and we’ll get to help shape it into something that’s not just excellent at supporting Vblocks, but converged infrastructure of all shapes.
Today, I’d argue that VCE provides the industry’s most comprehensive set of validated options when it comes to converged operations and service delivery. Here’s a quick list off the top of my head:
- EMC UIM
- EMC Watch4Net
- EMC Ionix
- Cisco CIAC
- Cisco Cloupia
- VMware vCenter
- VMware vCenter Operations
- VMware Automation Center
- VMware vCloud Director
- CA Capacity Management and Reporting Suite for Vblock™ Platforms
- CA Private Cloud Accelerator for Vblock™ Platforms
- CA Process Automation for Vblock™ Platforms
- CA Virtual Desktop Automation for Vblock™ Platforms
- BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management
- BMC ProactiveNet Performance Management Suite
- Afore CloudLink
- Infoblox Grid™
- VMTurbo Operations Manager
Note that the many of these aren’t just partners of VCE, they are products owned by our investor companies. The opportunity to sell, tightly integrate and seamlessly support these tools is far greater for VCE based on where we sit than it is for other companies, regardless of partnership status.
It’s quickly becoming obvious that converged operation and service delivery has become a core part of the value proposition for converged infrastructure. Companies like VCE, Dell (Gale Technologies), HP (OpsWare) and IBM continue to make acquisitions and investments in this area, and the bar is continually being raised. For the companies who look at converged infrastructure as a marketing program and not something worth investing development or acquisition dollars in (I’m looking at you, NetApps), the road is going to get longer and steeper. The same goes for the hyper-converged infrastructure players. They are scrapping hard to get out of the SMB and VDI environments, but if they don’t offer interoperability with enterprise-class tools, and maybe show a little differentiation along the way, they aren’t going to be in the conversation long. A vCenter plugin is a good start, but that alone is not enterprise management.
Even then, most companies are still building a management strategy and portfolio around the manual discovery of the individual hardware elements. In their desire to be everything to everyone, they haven’t changed the fundamentals of the issue. Either nothing has awareness of the other components that are involved in supporting workloads, as in the case of FlexPod, PureSystems and CloudSystem, or everything is forced through an abstracted software layer meant to emulate separate hardware stacks where none exist. Either way, that means that the customers have to spend time and money in an effort to build intelligence themselves using the tools they have chosen. The next frontier is going to be won by vendors who can build in this sense of context out of the box, and if you are a vendor offering a reference architecture and passing it off as “converged infrastructure” you are going to quickly discover how difficult providing context can be in a world of infinite variable. Good luck!