You may have seen a few tweets last week, formally confirming that VCE has the ability to resell the Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) solution directly.
I’ve been asked by a couple people why there wasn’t more of a formal announcement with regards to this, since there was no VCE press release, no video announcements or blog posts. It’s a good question, and I think one that addresses the core of the relationship between VCE and Cisco, so let’s dig in a little.
The basic answer is that we didn’t do a formal announcement…because this isn’t news. Of course we can resell IAC for customers who need it. We’ve been doing that since day one, and we have a joint list of enterprise and service provider customers who have been very happy with the results. Guess what? We can also put Cisco UC, Cisco Collaboration, Cloupia, any external switch, router or gateway or any other solution that Cisco sells directly on a VCE proposal and resell that as part of the deal. We have been able to do that since the day the first productized Vblock was sold, and we’ve done it many, many, many times over the last two years. We also have the ability to put any EMC or VMware technology on a VCE proposal and resell them directly, simplifying the acquisition process for the customer.
That being said, there is a lot more to the story that our ability to put a Cisco SKU on a proposal! Especially solutions like IAC which tend to solve fairly complex problems and can touch many different parts of a customer’s infrastructure, Vblock and legacy, there’s a need to be able to do more than just resell. There’s a need for being able to integrate and implement that solution into the environment and deliver on the value of the software that was sold.
It’s here that, in my opinion, VCE really helps Cisco deliver value. While the Cisco teams have done an incredible job focusing on “OOTB” functionality with IAC (something that hasn’t always been there), IAC and other products like that can be very, very complex beasts. They tie into lots of different hardware components, and more importantly, require a pretty in-depth knowledge of the customer, the business challenges they are looking to address and the existing business process that are in place. The good news is that as the product evolves, integration into the basic elements like VMware vCenter and the Cisco UCS Manager gets easier and easier, and the ability to leverage adapters and integration packs makes the extension of the tool into the enterprise easier. Remember, IAC isn’t a Vblock solution, it’s an Enterprise management solution that can be extended as needed into almost every part of a customer’s environment.
To support and supplement the OOTB functionality, the VCE services organization has built up a sizable amount of IP around how to help customers get where they want to get with IAC. Some of that involves how to integrate the tool in with other tools customers may have an investment in, or may want to use with IAC, some of that is being able to provide a library of common configurations that are specific to the components of the Vblock in context and sometimes it’s just providing demos and documentation showing what is possible. Back at Cisco Live 2012 VCE demonstrated some of our IP in this area (which was blogged about here and here), culminating in the Intel Guide to Cloud Design and Deployment that was released in June.
We also are able to leverage both our relationship with Cisco sales, Cisco Advanced Services and our mutual partner community to make sure that customers get the right solution, the right engagement from Cisco, the right kind of implementation from the right kind of partner and access to support when and how they need it. From the beginning of the sale through the day-to-day operation of the process, VCE brings both insight into the behind-the-scenes process as well as intimate knowledge of the converged infrastructure stack and how to provide the context necessary up into the higher level management tools.
This is the true value that the VCE and Cisco partnership brings. Yes, we can resell the software (or anything else that a customer needs as part of their transformation to a converged infrastructure strategy), but we can also apply the lessons learned from the 1,000+ Vblock Systems that are in the field and help show customers how to solve the business problems that the solution is designed to address. In the end, the customer wins, and that’s the whole reason we do it.
I’m excited to see some of the marketing and awareness events that we have scheduled with the IAC team over the next few months, including the Cisco Live event in London in a couple weeks. Let me know if you are going to be there, and if you want to discuss how to better integrate your infrastructure with the business processes that are core to your company!