VCE Alliance – an ambitious bid from the outsiders

Networking giant Cisco’s alliance with information infrastructure provider EMC and virtualisation pioneer VMware is both the most ambitious and the least fully realised of the industry’s new single-stack visions.

Cisco and EMC possess great expertise in IP communications and storage and information management respectively, and VMware is still widely held to be the technology leader in the key area of virtualisation. Still, VCE’s vision of cloud-based IT service delivery based on Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) platform has already opened rifts with server partners like Hewlett-Packard. The triumvirate must move fast to establish their market credentials before former friends can mobilise fully against them.

As yet, there seems to be little market traction for UCS, but Cisco has forged ahead with cloud-oriented initiatives such as its social networking Collaboration Platform and the launch of its WebEx Mail offering, and VMware continues to push its technology into new markets and gain new customers. Forrester’s Reid believes that VCE already possesses the potential to compete as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider for organisations preparing to migrate existing applications to the cloud.

However, to compete fully with Oracle and IBM, VCE needs an application server and programming environment to compete against Fusion and WebSphere. Last year, VMware addressed this gap with the $420 million purchase of SpringSource, a web and Java development toolmaker credited with underpinning 50% of the world’s Java development last year. SpringSource, fully integrated with VCE’s existing systems management and middleware tools has the potential to lift the Alliance’s IaaS into a full platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capability. So far, though, this effort, like Cisco’s UCS, is a work in progress.

How the vendors stack up

IBM – the stack veteran

The computing giant is one of the pioneers of the pre-integrated systems model that is now returning to vogue

Oracle – from software to systems, courtesy of Sun

Larry Ellison’s company now has the technology required be a strategic supplier, but does it have the relationship skills?

Microsoft & Hewlett-Packard – a pragmatic partnership

The two IT giants’ commitment to co-operation and mutual interoperability is a practical reaction to industry moves

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