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I’m at the EMC annual analyst conference this week and this year it came right after VCE changed from being a joint venture to becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of EMC. Structurally unchanged inside, its ownership and future took a solid shift to the future – and the future of this IT in a box product is looking very interesting.
Let’s talk about that a bit this week.
Expansion and Flexibility
VCE works best at the large scale enterprise level and the Vblock is locked in on the components currently supplied by EMC, VMware, and Cisco. However, this whole thing is based on a “black box” concept. In other words, if it is working properly, the folks installing the solution shouldn’t care what is inside the box as long as the solution meets or exceeds the specifications it was sold on.
Now stop and think about this a moment because it really forces a very different way of looking at things. Currently you care about the different components in your datacenter because, unless you have converted to Vblocks, you specify and configure each component yourself and you may even care about the sub-components like storage type, processor, and even chipsets.
As a result you own the responsibility for making sure the result performs as expected. But in a “black box” configuration you set the specification and the vendor supplying the solution then configures it to meet that specification. They own the result and are held accountable for it, not you. You are only responsible for what you should know best, what you need. They are responsible for what they know best: the hardware configuration. And there are a lot of components available to better meet the various needs of the vastly varied technology world market.
So while Vblocks will largely have the same components, expect other “blocks” to emerge targeting other needs, smaller corporate needs (including branch offices), and emerging opportunities like hybrid clouds, which could require configurations in the future that don’t currently exist.
In short, this organizational change anticipates new additional product configurations, sales channels, and partners, which will expand the solution to more customers and markets than VCE now can address.
Analytics in Ordering
One of the interesting advancements that you’ll see out of VCE is in ordering, and it will take a couple years to fully mature. Their intention is both interesting and eventually amazing.
They plan to use analytics not just to figure out better ways to sell you products, which is how it is generally used by most today, but how to help you configure VCE solutions quickly and accurately. They are trying to make VCE buying like buying a product on Amazon. To do this they have to collect information about the various industries and companies that might consider buying VCE from all of the EMC federated companies. So that when you start the process a system is pre-configured to take you through what you need and minimize the various elements you have to enter to set the ideal configuration. These things include the applications you plan to run, your company’s size and expected growth rate, in place SLA (Service Level Agreements), and existing hardware and configuration.
From this you get a complete solution that can be built and put into full production faster than you can currently order and then drive a new Tesla car. While, given the level complexity, it is unlikely it will ever be as easy as ordering a Tesla, they are setting goal that should get them pretty close. And the fact they can deliver now a working solution faster than Tesla can deliver a car is pretty amazing.
The Next Generation of IT Company
In a way I think we are seeing in VCE something similar to what we saw in Dell in the 1990s. The emergence of the next generation of IT Company. The result is already very different than what we see with other firms: an extreme focus on the solution and not on the components, a configure-to-implementation time that is so fast as to be nearly unbelievable, and eventually a configuration process that is closer to what you’d see buying cutting edge car from a cutting edge car company than any IT company ever in existence. I expect VCE will drive a revolution much like Dell, did and it will be an amazing thing to watch.
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