UPDATED 09:24 EDT / MAY 26 2014

Converged infrastructure: Balancing standardization + flexibility  | #EMCworld

balanced converged infrastructure yin yangThere’s far more to converged infrastructure than just bundling individual hardware components together, according to Gary Garcia, the director of global solutions marketing for EMC’s VSPEX line of pre-integrated reference architectures. Appearing on SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE at the storage stalwart’s recently concluded customer show in Las Vegas, he made it clear that the focus lies much farther up the stack for his company.

When VSPEX debuted in April 2012, it was greeted with caution in the ecosystem and confusion by customers, many of whom were initially skeptical about the impact of the launch on EMC’s place in marketplace and the future of its relations with Cisco. But despite the bumpy start,  Garcia tells theCUBE host Stu Miniman that the product series has succeeded in capturing CIOs’ attention.  The rapidly accelerating adoption of converged infrastructure is a  clear sign that the underlying value proposition is resonating with enterprises.

It’s not that hard to see why.  By combining storage and compute in a unified whole that stands as an independent platform in its own right, the technology makes it possible to achieve the elusive balance between standardization and flexibility that IT organizations are being increasingly pressured to deliver. This degree of agility wasn’t always possible, Garcia reflects.

“Way back in the mid-’90s, people were trying to do converged infrastructure but it was difficult because a lot of the technologies hadn’t matured enough to play well together,” he notes. “With the advent of visualization, it is much easier for technologies to play well together.” That affords a whole new level of simplicity that is disrupting how data centers are built and maintained, changing the role of the channel in the process.

Historically, value-added resellers didn’t have much choice besides cobbling together solutions on their own, a formidable task that Garcia says takes up resources better spent developing new ways to differentiate from the competition.  He claims that the VSPEX family provides a faster and less complicated alternative through a selection of nearly 30 reference architectures that can be customized to meet the specific needs of customers.

“There’s a place for a more packaged solution and some people need that, but if you need something that is tailor made to a customer’s applications while reducing the [associated] risk using all the experience in the market and playing well with what’s in a customer’s data center, you can’t beat VSPEX,” Garcia boasts.

Solutions for the ecosystem

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EMC is  actively working to foster the development of vertical solutions in the ecosystem through its partner program, which helped extend the lineup beyond the scope of its portfolio to include technologies from other vendors. That aggressive approach provides a force multiplier that Garcia says is essential for staying competitive in the current marketplace.

“In the end, you need three things,” he details. “You need to make the solution bigger than any one company can build, you need some method of proving and validating that things work on your platform and then you also need a mechanism to promote the solution and a channel to deliver it to the customer.”

The combination of the three has allowed EMC and its partners to enable a wide range of use cases atop VPLEX, Garcia highlights, with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and the consolidation of existing workloads proving especially popular among users. Increasingly, customers are also deploying greenfield applications on their converged infrastructure in a bid to realize the operational efficiencies offered by the public cloud without the security and governance challenges associated with moving corporate information outside the firewall.

photo credit: ViaMoi via photopin cc

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