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Vblock [EOL] OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

What is Vblock [EOL]?

VCE Vblock Systems is an all-in-one virtualization platform that integrates the leading storage, network, and compute technologies from the likes of EMC, VMware and Cisco. VCE Vblock allows organizations to easily and securely deploy cloud computing and virtualization in their environments, supporting these multiple technologies and providing flexibility and agility for changing business needs.

Vblock [EOL] is also known as VCE Vblock.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Converged Infrastructure Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: September 2021

Vblock [EOL] Customers

Xerox, ACS, and Columbia Sportswear.

Vblock [EOL] Video

Archived Vblock [EOL] Reviews (more than two years old)

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Fred Armantrout
Senior System Specialist at Burns & McDonnell
Real User
Top 10Leaderboard
The VCE VBlocks came along and it was the best combination of an all-in-one virtual data center in a box Converged SAN, Network, and Compute that used VMware to drive the whole package.

What is our primary use case?

The system has performed very well with the workload we throw on it.  It runs large SQL servers, little MS Windows License key application servers, SharePoint servers, some Linux application servers, and a few specialty VDI guests. 

How has it helped my organization?

The original pair of VBlock’s were purchased to replace a hodgepodge of small VM clusters of 3 to 4 VM hosts and an outdated SAN, in addition to moving from an old data center to a new data center. Moving the VM’s from the old systems to the new VBlock --which had more shared resources and a newer VMware version-- was a big win. Once in place, we virtualized as many servers as could be converted from freestanding servers to a VM. The only exception was when the licensing of an application was cost prohibitive; we keep these on stand-alone hosts. This was mainly due to application licensing bias, rather than limits on virtualization.

What is most valuable?

This solution has rock-solid reliability. When a problem does occur, you can call the service number or support site to initiate a service request.

We are approaching 3 years of operation with little problems with hardware.  Had one 5K switch fail some ports and replaced that under service.  The VCE Matrix of knowing what software, drivers, firmware and ESXi bundles all work together is a big relief in not having to dig through each and every part of the hardware and software updates to be sure they are all compatible.

What needs improvement?

Currently, there is some uncertainty about the future of the product line with regards to Dell's takeover of EMC. Because VBlock is so closely wrapped around the Cisco Blade converged infrastructure environment, I am concerned that Dell may end the relationship and kill the VBlock line, pushing their other VCE products that can run on Dell servers. Initial indications from VCE were that this was not going to happen, but I am concerned that Dell may not really know what they have taken on when they took over the EMC / VCE / VMware companies.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than Eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In general, stability is rock solid. VCE responds and reacts to security related issues quickly, but it is not on the bleeding edge of every last upgrade / VMware release, as it takes them time to bundle together and test out a set of new software packages, firmware, drivers, VMware patch levels, etc. into a matrix release bundle.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our systems, both old and new, were not purchased totally loaded. We have open slots to be able to add more compute blades and, in our old system, we added both blades and upgraded RAM for more VM resources.

How are customer service and technical support?

In most instances, we've had good support with quick resolutions. One incident occurred during an upgrade to a SAN related item. We had a major problem that took longer to ultimately resolve, but once the problem escalated to higher-level support, they were finally able to resolve the problem.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our original VMware environment was a hodgepodge of rack mounted servers, a FC SAN which used an older EMC SAN, and inexperienced admins piecing it all together. Once this was deemed insufficient and the SAN needed a replacement, the VCE VBlocks came along and it was the best combination of an all-in-one virtual data center in a box with SAN, Network, and Compute that used VMware to drive the whole package.

How was the initial setup?

  • From what I remember, the first VBlock landed and the installation techs were still working out some bugs when it turned up. The second of the original pair arrived a week later and connected with fewer problems. The new pair of VBlock 340’s came in with much less trouble. The initial installation was well coordinated: we had the LAN connections ready and the deployment team came in and configured them per the preconfigured checklist of IP addresses, Server Names, SAN settings and VMware setup.

What about the implementation team?

We had assistance with VCE in the new implementation via a 3rd party consultant that had assisted in migrations like this in the past.  The consultant was very helpful, knowledgeable and flexible on scheduling.

What was our ROI?

Although I am not directly involved with the cost / expensing but I expect we will run this system for at least 4 years.  We are in year 2 and already looking at costs for renewal with the vendor or doing hardware maintenance 3rd party but that has yet to be determined.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Get your best deal and press for everything. We already had our VMware licensing, but we had to upgrade to Enterprise Plus to implement the full features of the VBlock and the VDS, rather than using the normal enterprise or standard level licensing from VMware. Plan for room to grow the system in the future. We have expanded SAN capacity much more than the compute capacity, as databases and data files continue to grow and eat more data space.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When we came to the point of looking at upgrading our original VBlock to the new generation we have now, we did look at other options. But due to our experience with the VBlock and how well it fit our needs, we decided to replace the older version with the new version.

We considered hyper-converged solutions and building block solutions, but none were as good a fit as the VBlock-- or possibly a FlexPod, which is a VBlock with a different Storage Solution. But no single source for support and ongoing maintenance upgrade tested the way VCE did.

The FlexPod solution is a general idea with building block solutions. But once it is assembled, you are on your own to maintain the upgrades. If something does not conform, you would have to be on Cisco to work out why your VMware does not like the drivers, etc. The building block solutions like Nutanix and SimpliVity, the EVO solutions, and even other solutions using the VCE offerings like the VXRail and VXRack systems did not fit our large data / disk capacity needs. These solutions may work for smaller sites and offices, but not for our centralized way of running VMs.


Currently we are approaching our 3 year renewal and are challenged with continuing support via VCE / EMC or go 3rd party support for hardware but not have any upgrade / VCE matrix validation updates.  

What other advice do I have?

Size it right. Get the connectivity to your core switches established and have good admins, ones who know the storage side and who know the compute and network side.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
MH
Senior IT Architect - Enterprise at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
The component integration means I don't have to worry about technology mismatches

Pros and Cons

  • "The component integration means I don't have to worry about technology mismatches."
  • "The integration with other vendors' products needs to be looked at. It's not as flexible as we would like it to be."

What is our primary use case?

Converged data centers in hosted facilities in many locations.  The ability to roll in a solution and have it function right out of the box is key.

How has it helped my organization?

It's a little bit easier to maintain and easier when an upgrade needs to take place, since the vendor is handling the integration aspects usually for a fee.

What is most valuable?

The integration between components, so that we don't have to worry about technology mismatches.   Not having to worry about the firmware integrations with the software infrastructure components has been grand.

What needs improvement?

The integration with other vendors' products needs to be looked at. It's not as flexible as we would like it to be.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any stability issues, but we have had compatibility issues with third-party packages.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There are no issues from a scalability standpoint, except sometimes it gets to be on the costly side.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We switched because we thought it was going to be less troublesome, in the end, for us.

How was the initial setup?

The upgrades seem to take longer than we would like. Then again, it really all depends on the complexity of the environment. We're in a pretty complex environment, so some of the upgrades were not straightforward, even though we were told they were going to be straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I think the pricing is on the higher end of the spectrum. There could be some adjustments that could be made there.

Regarding licensing, watch compatibility with external products that you run on Vblock. It has got to be properly architected, otherwise, you will run into licensing issues.

What other advice do I have?

If your environment is a very stable environment, this solution is a great fit. If your environment isn't a very stable environment, I would make sure that you install it in such a way that it allows you to be flexible.

I would mark it as an eight out of 10. There haven't been very many issues with it, it seems to be well maintained and, the only thing that comes to mind is, again, some of the cost factors that are associated with it. It could be a little bit more cost-effective, otherwise, it would be a 10.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Abdullah El Deeb
Technical Consultant/Instructor at SIGMA IT
Consultant
Top 10Leaderboard
A fully bundled, deployed, and configured solution with a short delivery time

Pros and Cons

  • "Finding a fully bundled, deployed, and configured solution with a short delivery time and unique support is really attractive."
  • "While most public clouds are deployed on Linux, there is current no certified Vblock working on KVM hypervisors."

What is our primary use case?

While IT evolved from a back-office business process, it is now in such rapid digital and mobile world that the data center is the first, most frequent point of contact with customers.

What is most valuable?

  • Dealing with multiple vendors can be tricky in multi-vendor setup. Having one vendor to deal with from a support perspective is a huge potential benefit when it comes to reliability and avoiding wasting time and money. 
  • Finding a fully bundled, deployed, and configured solution with a short delivery time and unique support is really attractive.
  • As far as customer satisfaction, it will meet and surpass your needs.

What needs improvement?

  1. The infrastructure is converged, but the teams, not so much. It is so complex that the converged infrastructure needs converged management.
  2. While most public clouds are deployed on Linux, there is current no certified Vblock working on KVM hypervisors.

For how long have I used the solution?

Trial/evaluations only.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

  1. Slow, old delivery times are surprising, so forget about collecting, computing, storage, and networking components separately as this process takes a long time. Vblock products are fully engineered and are delivered up to work (D.C. in a box) in less than 45 days, which means that you have a fully working solution into your data center quickly.
  2. Since the box is integrated under ex-VCE vendors and employees. It is deployed after a logical design and survey, so all you need after delivery is to power up your Vblock and work with your apps.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is done in the factory following the LCS documents. 

What was our ROI?

You do not have to have all of these high experience teams of network, storage, and compute. All you need is one engineer to develop the LCS documents.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is not cheap. However, if you have a storage/network/virtualization experts on your team who can combine a similar storage/compute/network to match performance to Vblock then you will find that you will be saving money. Calculate your total ROI and cost of ownership to determine if it is the right fit for you.

Vblock appears from the first while to be very expensive. There are more items you cannot see in the BOQ: customer service, support, delivery short time, and highly experienced VCE engineers.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user767964
Solutions Manager at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Provides ease of operation, access without constraints; but better licensing is needed

Pros and Cons

  • "Some of the key features are the ease of operation and access, without constraining actions. The tool is available to actually move things around, do things quickly quickly."
  • "I would like to see them improve their switching infrastructure and rely on Cisco configurations. They are a bit more complex and technical, but result in a slightly reduced cost in terms of switching on the network side of it."

What is our primary use case?

Internal IT services.

How has it helped my organization?

We used to have different departments, each with their own IT section. Everybody was making their own IT investments, and every department had their own little bits of applications here and applications there. Now, it's all coordinated, all synchronized. That reduces the risk of equipment and costs as well. We no longer have people running different applications, different tools, in a multi-vendor environment. Now, we have one synchronized solution.

What is most valuable?

  • Ease of operation. 
  • Access, without constraining actions. The tool is available to actually move things around, do things quickly quickly.
  • The speed.
  • The support behind it as well. There is always quite good support around the box. Any fixes and updates are done pretty quickly.

What needs improvement?

As the technology changes and comes down in price as well, we're looking at VDI, having a virtual desktop infrastructure, so instead of using client, using a virtual environment, a thin client.

Also, I would like to see them improve their switching infrastructure and rely on Cisco configurations. They are a bit more complex and technical, but result in a slightly reduced cost in terms of switching on the network side of it. It's a very complicated process, our configuration, from the network side.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. But the cost is quite expensive, so scalability is not as cheap as you think, when you initially get it. It's quite expensive.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support is very good. They're always responsive. We have built a relationship over the years.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We use to use HPE but the monitoring side of it and the different tools you needed to buy, invest in... This system is much better, including the storage, which is much better as well. And the speed, compared to the different tools HPE was using, we found this is much better.

How was the initial setup?

It takes a bit of time. It's a bit long because of the configuration, to be set up to your requirements specifically, takes a bit longer than you think. The initial set up is complex and needs to be studied, the details. It took longer than expected.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I would not say the pricing is not good value. It is still on the expensive side, near the top-end of cost compared to what's available now.

The licensing has to be improved. There has to be a clear definition of the licensing from the initial set-up so the customer knows what they are paying for, without being hit later on with extra licensing. The licensing definitions should be clearer and, perhaps, have one set of licenses rather than multiple licenses.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at IBM and HPE.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is that you should look at the licensing in more detail, as well as compare the cost, because the technology has changed quickly. When you're investing, you need to make sure to invest well.

I would rate this solution at seven out of 10. I think it still lacking: First in terms of cost, as well as regarding an up-front explanation.They need to give more details to the customer regarding licensing.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user866172
Manager, Supply Chain Application Development at a retailer with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
​We have seen measurable increases in our system performance

Pros and Cons

  • "​We have seen measurable increases in our system performance. Those increases have been directly measurable in application performance and the delivery of critical business information to our users.​"
  • "Tighter alignment could simplify and speed up the configuration and delivery process.​"

What is our primary use case?

Wholesale infrastructure upgrade of aging hardware and virtualization software.

How has it helped my organization?

We have seen measurable increases in our system performance. Those increases have been directly measurable in application performance and the delivery of critical business information to our users.

What is most valuable?

A unified platform of support, which expands easily and frees the staff to focus on our business and less on the complexities of a mixed hardware/software environment.

What needs improvement?

Due to the complexity of the complete solution, there are many groups involved in delivering the complete solution. Tighter alignment could simplify and speed up the configuration and delivery process.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What other advice do I have?

We are very satisfied with the solution and the benefits that we have received from it. We have been using it in production for over a year.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
IT Infrastructure-Storage & System Admininstration at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
​It has improved system performance and reliability with production applications

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for virtualized Linux databases and an application server using Oracle 11g/12c. The primary reason for Vblock is for the performance and deduplication that we are getting across our production, test, dev, and training environments.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved system performance, batch times for off-hours processing, and reliability with production applications.

What is most valuable?

The XtremIO All-Flash array delivers performance, reliability, and deduplication.

What needs improvement?

The patching process Timeliness of updates/releases Compatibility with current ESX versions

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What other advice do I have?

I would have given it a…

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for virtualized Linux databases and an application server using Oracle 11g/12c. The primary reason for Vblock is for the performance and deduplication that we are getting across our production, test, dev, and training environments.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved system performance, batch times for off-hours processing, and reliability with production applications.

What is most valuable?

The XtremIO All-Flash array delivers performance, reliability, and deduplication.

What needs improvement?

  • The patching process
  • Timeliness of updates/releases
  • Compatibility with current ESX versions

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What other advice do I have?

I would have given it a higher rating except for how the patching and updates are applied.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
BL
Enterprise Infrastructure Engineer at Sterling Bank Plc
Real User
Access to VMs is faster due to the centralized management console

What is our primary use case?

Consolidation of physical and virtual server pockets in the data center across different OEMs.

How has it helped my organization?

Access to VMs is now faster due to the centralized management console. Navigation is easy and self-explanatory. The high redundancy of components has minimized frequent service degradation/failure.

What is most valuable?

Management solution ViZ: UCS.

What needs improvement?

User interface More customer/client involvement in back-end management.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What is our primary use case?

Consolidation of physical and virtual server pockets in the data center across different OEMs.

How has it helped my organization?

  • Access to VMs is now faster due to the centralized management console.
  • Navigation is easy and self-explanatory.
  • The high redundancy of components has minimized frequent service degradation/failure.

What is most valuable?

Management solution ViZ: UCS.

What needs improvement?

  • User interface
  • More customer/client involvement in back-end management.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user841221
Cloud Engineer with 201-500 employees
User
Systems run solidly, although RCM upgrades are painful.

Pros and Cons

  • "UCS Manager worked well for net/blade management and has allowed fairly easy use of dedicated bare-metal blades."
  • "Systems run solidly."
  • "RCM upgrades were not scripted, and you needed to roll on your own. We were led to believe this would be otherwise."
  • "VCE tools, like Vision or AMP were not stand alone, and depended too much on other management consoles."
  • "Troublesome relationships with VCE at the beginning of our use came undone quickly after we went live."
  • "RCM upgrades are painful."

What is our primary use case?

Private cloud hosting of ERP solutions for remote US customers. Install two with replication for cross-site DR.

How has it helped my organization?

Troublesome relationships with VCE at the beginning of our use came undone quickly after we went live, making installs/adds/changes less than cohesive. 

What is most valuable?

UCS Manager worked well for net/blade management and has allowed fairly easy use of dedicated bare-metal blades. VNX Unified performed as expected.

What needs improvement?

VCE tools, like Vision or AMP were not stand alone, and depended too much on other management consoles. RCM upgrades were not scripted, and you needed to roll on your own. We were led to believe this would be otherwise.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Systems run solidly, although we never really took advantage of VCE tools, like Vision or AMP very much. RCM upgrades are painful.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user794538
Director, Security Incident Management with 11-50 employees
User
Capability for scale and growth within a single rack brings strong possibilities for capacity planning

What is our primary use case?

Enterprise private cloud for federal government in a high availability service with primary and secondary datacenters.

How has it helped my organization?

I collaborated in a Vblock growth sizing and analysis. The scalability of the solution is interesting.

What is most valuable?

Capability for scale and growth within a single rack brings strong possibilities for capacity planning.

What needs improvement?

OEM services requires too much planning and low availability of certified engineers.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Related to tech support: I believe it is too expensive.

What is our primary use case?

Enterprise private cloud for federal government in a high availability service with primary and secondary datacenters.

How has it helped my organization?

I collaborated in a Vblock growth sizing and analysis. The scalability of the solution is interesting.

What is most valuable?

Capability for scale and growth within a single rack brings strong possibilities for capacity planning.

What needs improvement?

OEM services requires too much planning and low availability of certified engineers.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Related to tech support: I believe it is too expensive.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user263952
Deputy Head of IT Service at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
Provides the ability for our organisation to deliver true DR.

Pros and Cons

  • "VMware NSX: Provides the ability for our organisation to deliver true DR."
  • "The implementation and support could be better."

What is most valuable?

VMware NSX: Provides the ability for our organisation to deliver true DR.

How has it helped my organization?

Provides DR capability which we have never had before.

What needs improvement?

The implementation and support could be better.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There were stability issues, such as various bugs. It was most noticeable with VMware NSX.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were no scalability issues.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give technical support a rating of 3/10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were looking to move to a strategic and consolidated tech stack and support model, which could support our ambitions of a private cloud.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. The LCS was a nightmare. Project Management (logistics, support) were extremely poor.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Strive for a consolidated ELA.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated NetApp, FlexPod, and IBM Pure Storage

What other advice do I have?

  • The support model is not what it is sold to be
  • Avamary/datadomain is NOT part of the RCM (despite it being sold to our organisation as being so) or supported well within the VCE model.
  • The RCM testing process is flawed. The VMware NSX versions are released before the tests have evolved to complement the new release version. This has led to bugs and non-compatibility falling through the cracks of the process.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user375336
Network & System Engineer at a marketing services firm with 51-200 employees
Vendor
You can increase the storage capacity without having to disrupt, shut down, or schedule down time. They should allow for a little disassembly in certain areas.

What is most valuable?

Its EMC storage arrays and the combined technology with Cisco in it.

How has it helped my organization?

An example would be one that I've seen where we were having to increase the capacity of its storage array size. We thought that there had to be downtime scheduled, but we found out that you can increase the storage capacity without having to disrupt, shut down, or schedule down time of the Vblock. It was rather seamless to perform.

What needs improvement?

The only thing I would like to see is that although they strongly advocate that you cannot change any of its parts, and that would undermine its performance, but a little allowance should be allowed for disassembly within certain areas, which would be nice.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used it for about two years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

In terms of deployment, I want to highlight that if it's being flown in from another country, please pay very close and strict attention to details such as to allowing it to thaw, or adjust to the temperature of the environment that it is going to be deployed to before powering it up. I've heard cases where it didn't work because certain controls that were overlooked.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had no issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've had no issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

7.5/10

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using Aberdeen NAS and combining that with Cisco switches and VMware. We switched as Aberdeen was an expensive way to go, and choosing Vblock was done at a more regional level so it gave us the chance to compare it to the rest, and it's good.

How was the initial setup?

It was done by a different team, but I watched them do it and it seemed straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is rather simple and not very technical. Many times I personally felt that while this is a good product to implement in any environment, the one key factor is knowing the environment that this is going to go, know the purpose it is going to serve, and plan ahead a minimum of two years ahead what you might see are areas that might need extra upgrading. Try to tie that in with your current plan and budget, and know what power supplies it needs to draw. Speak to your technical managers and also to your IT technologist or whoever is going to be involved in the configuration part of it. Make sure you plan all the way through and always have a backup plan, and have redundancies in place. We are talking about a Vblock redundancy in place. You can have two or three Vblock devices in one place and you realized you are all juiced up. When the equipment arrives have a keen eye for detail, making sure you run your checks as well. Physical checks are also important. When powering up the equipment, follow the guide on which to power first and don't power up as you see fit. On the day of powering up always have the VCE product vendors present to ensure fairness or that you are not accused of tampering.

Once the equipment is handed over, have your engineers run their own tests to ensure everything is running accordingly. Ensure that two people are always present when VCE engineers are going to do the stress and product tests - it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes watching.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user371706
Enterprise Architect Infrastructure at a engineering company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
It basically gives us a menu of firmware versions which we can use to upgrade to the latest version and interoperability is guaranteed.

Valuable Features

I feel this is a tie between two features. VCE’s secret sauce is their release compatibility matrix which allows us to deploy updates without the need for significant testing. The second is the Cisco UCS platform which allows a simple and easy way to manage all of our compute.

Improvements to My Organization

In the past the server team would spend weeks downloading and testing interoperability with different versions of firmware on the servers, switches, fabric, and storage to get the most up to date and bug free operations. Now VCE gives us basically a menu of firmware versions and we can upgrade to the latest version and interoperability is guaranteed.

Room for Improvement

The VCE Vision product definitely needs some improvement as it is not as easy to use as other commercial off the shelf software. There is a lot of configuration that needs to be done from the Linux command line. Hopefully in the future all configuration can be done from an HTML5 webpage. Also, each Vblock needs its own Vision appliance which gets cumbersome when you own many Vblocks. The ability to use a pair of HA vision servers to manage multiple Vblocks would be helpful

Use of Solution

The first Vblock 720 was installed in 2014. Currently we have two Vblock 720 models, each with two XtremIO bricks. They are connected with a vplex metro cluster. We also own multiple Vblock 100s for remote office computing.

Scalability Issues

We have expanded the capacity of our existing systems numerous times without issue.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Extremely good. We usually receive on shore support when we have issues, which is always a plus as there is no “lost in translation” issues that can occur with some offshore support models.

Initial Setup

It was very straightforward, we filled out a spreadsheet called a logical configuration survey which contains all of our integration information and the Vblock arrived configured and ready to be plugged in.

Implementation Team

We used VCE professional services for all of our installations. The team is very easy to work with and extremely reliable.

ROI

The cost of the system really comes down to the discount you are receiving from VMware, Cisco, and EMC. If you deal with these vendors on a regular basis you will better understand the cost of a complete solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Virtualization Specialist at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
It gives us the flexibility to grow the environment when necessary. Use host profile, including on the ESXi install on the blades, instead of create all server manually.

What is most valuable?

I'm not so excited with Vblock solution. The only good point is that the customer does not need install anything because VCE delivers the product ready to be used.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives us the flexibility to grow the environment when necessary.

What needs improvement?

Use host profile as this feature is available on the product acquired, including on the ESXi install on the blades, instead of create all server manually.

For how long have I used the solution?

7 months.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

So far so good.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer…

What is most valuable?

I'm not so excited with Vblock solution. The only good point is that the customer does not need install anything because VCE delivers the product ready to be used.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives us the flexibility to grow the environment when necessary.

What needs improvement?

Use host profile as this feature is available on the product acquired, including on the ESXi install on the blades, instead of create all server manually.

For how long have I used the solution?

7 months.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

So far so good.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

The D&I team was very good.

Technical Support:

Did not use yet.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

No.

How was the initial setup?

No.

What about the implementation team?

The solution was implemented by VCE team. They did a great job.

What was our ROI?

I don't have this information.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Just be careful to buy enough licenses to grow your environment when necessary.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Cloud architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
User
It now utilizes SDx to allow scale out architecture (SDDC/SDN/SDS) and to bypass limitations within production, but improvements come from customers' remarks for evolutions or needs.

What is most valuable?

  • Release Certification Matrix (RCM) is the core of a vBlock device. The RCM ensures that all the components inside a vBlock are fully compatible and settled together
  • VCE Vision is also a key into a vBlock and monitors the health of the device
  • VCE have done a lot of improvement on VCE Vision regarding customer feedback. It’s like working hand in hand with VCE

How has it helped my organization?

Legacy delivery times are usually known for being slow. Buying computing, storage and network components usually take times as much as you multiply providers. vBlock products are fully engineered and delivered operational, and the VCE promise is that a vBlock is delivered less than 45 days after SOW (State of Work), which means that you have a fully working solution into your datacenter quickly. That’s not only a promise, that’s the reality.

The first step is the Logical Configuration Survey (LCS) which is done by customers, helped by architects and engineers from VCE for networking, computing, and storage needs. This phase is done after less than 21 days, and assumes it to be the initial configuration build of your vBlock. The LCS is used by VCE to factory build your vBlock, and by the pro-support team to directly key into the device to finalize the delivery and realize the final test before giving you the keys.

What needs improvement?

Improvement comes from customers who have sent many remarks for evolutions or needs to VCE. Most of them have been taken into account, and VCE introduced a lot of new features last year in their roadmap like vxBlock (with Vmware NSX), vxRack, EVO-Rail and so on.

For how long have I used the solution?

Over the years, VCE has acquired good experience, and now the product lifecycle is completely under control. It’s now my 3rd year using vBlock products for customers like the European Space Agency, La Banque Postale, BNP Paribas, or GDF for their dedicated cloud. VCE used to cover almost all needs in education, industry, banks, and is used by many Fortune 500 companies!

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

No issues encountered.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As the product is fully bundled, everything is under control. Based on a well known & improved technologies vBlock components are very powerful (even listed into TPC website as the top three regarding computing!) and stable. VCE also takes care of the whole security of the solution and advertise about security issues and how to solve them.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

One of the biggest challenges for VCE was the scalability because of limitations from each vendor. Actually, they introduced new vBlock technologies using xDN to allow scale out architecture (SDDC/SDN/SDS), and bypass limitation within production.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

VCE have made a priority out of customer satisfaction. You got dedicated people regarding your project! It’s very efficient and valuable. The lifecycle of your product is own by defined vArchitect, vAccount Manager and so on. Definitely 9/10.

Technical Support:

Unique entry point for supporting vBlock is very efficient! It definitely worth 9/10. Entry support Core is quite good, 8/10, and Premier support, 9/10, is really impressive!

With Core and Premier support you have one dedicated Customer Advocate for your day to day communication with VCE.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I was working a long time ago with IBM BladeCenter-H and HP-C7000 Solutions, when I discovered the Cisco UCS technology. It was fast to provision, easy to deploy, & easy to manage! I was completely seduced by UCS and began to industrialize the implementation!

So I’ve try to find the best solution working with UCS. At first it was FlexPOD with Netapp. But there wasn’t a unique support entry point and I had to go all providers to find a solution on my issue that was a waste of time & money. Finding a fully bundled solution with engineering and unique support was really attractive!

How was the initial setup?

The Initial setup is done in the VCE factory following the LCS document. VCE assume the D&I (Deployment & Installation) of the vBlock and also the lifecycle of their product. It’s very simple, you fill in the LCS, get it validate by the VCE build team and that’s it! 45 days later (and possibly before), you get your vBlock fully operational installed into you datacenter.

What about the implementation team?

Deployments are done by VCE directly.

What was our ROI?

I don’t have a clear view on financial stuff but I can bring some clues. In traditional companies, you have a silo organization of each team. That means that the technical designers, engineering, and implementation teams in each domain that's SAN/LAN/SYSTEM/COMPUTE. So for each of them you have an expert on their domain. Meaning you have at least nine full time guy’s working on designing and building the solution, and in time there' an understanding of each others constraints.

Legacy built architecture disappeared with VCE converged infrastructure. Only one guy with transversal knowledge can achieve the LCS. That results in a strong and powerful infrastructure with nearly no downtime, and this is well known by the VCE technical support.

That doesn’t means that the technical guys are going to lose their job, they just need to acquire an in-depth knowledge of vBlock technologies because they have to run the platform, and adjust it regarding the company needs.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

vBlock can appear as something very costly as first, but settle everything together - man/day, end customer satisfaction, delivery time - and you can figure out it’s a real win-win solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I was using mainly HP and IBM technologies (over 1000 physical blades), and I’ve also tested Dell blades as well. None of them were simple to use without prior implementation of tools to administrate the solution (OpenManage/HP Insight).

Some of them like Nutanix do not fit our needs and can still be a blackbox. I can’t go into detail, but hyperconverged infrastructure was not a good choice for our deployment specific needs. You can’t scale out computing regarding storage (a Nutanix node is bundled) or simply build bare metal blade for specific use (Oracle RAC for example).

I’ve looked for a long time at white papers and success stories on Nutanix regarding large scale VDI deployment (+40K) and did not find something relevant. With VCE I was able to have everything on a simple vBlock. IaaS as standard, VDI with XtremIO, Linux Oracle on Bare Metal, and the whole solution is fully supported by VCE.

What other advice do I have?

VCE was created through a coalition between VMware, Cisco and EMC in 2009. The idea is to deliver a built-in converged solution based on various IT standards:

  • VMware for virtualization
  • Cisco for SAN/LAN (network layout)
  • EMC for storage

vBlock is fully engineered & tested by the company. One of the most valuable is the support which is centralized and done by VCE directly with these partners. The products cover small offices, branch offices, medium and large companies.

VCE have a specialized learning path for partners, Partner Mentorship, within the EMC education portal, and since 2014, VCE has also had a dedicated certification path which is quite similar but more accurate and technical.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user332232
IT Architect at a aerospace/defense firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
It gives us a private, internal cloud and a self-provisioning portal for personnel to spin up their own VMs; however, we ran into bugs when upgrading a blade, but that was an EMC issue, not hardware.

Valuable Features

UCS, brings the entire datacenter system together. We can offer non-disruptive, seamless upgrades and storage tiering for people with higher IO demands. It gives us flexibility.

Improvements to My Organization

It gives us a private, internal cloud and a self-provisioning portal for personnel to spin up their own VMs.

Room for Improvement

There are little things, for example, we ran into bugs when upgrading a blade, but that was an EMC issue, not hardware.

Stability Issues

It’s very stable, no more bugs than any other problems with 2,500 operating systems.

Scalability Issues

It’s very scalable. Every year we upgrade our capacity and just add another blade.

Customer Service and Technical Support

It's pretty good, but not great.

Initial Setup

It's…

Valuable Features

UCS, brings the entire datacenter system together. We can offer non-disruptive, seamless upgrades and storage tiering for people with higher IO demands. It gives us flexibility.

Improvements to My Organization

It gives us a private, internal cloud and a self-provisioning portal for personnel to spin up their own VMs.

Room for Improvement

There are little things, for example, we ran into bugs when upgrading a blade, but that was an EMC issue, not hardware.

Stability Issues

It’s very stable, no more bugs than any other problems with 2,500 operating systems.

Scalability Issues

It’s very scalable. Every year we upgrade our capacity and just add another blade.

Customer Service and Technical Support

It's pretty good, but not great.

Initial Setup

It's straightforward, although complex too because it's a large system.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Independent Analyst and Advisory Consultant at Server StorageIO - www.storageio.com
Consultant
Top 20
VCE's change of ownership
In case you have not heard, the joint initiative (JV) founded in the fall of 2009 between Intel VMware Cisco and EMC called VCE had a change of ownership today. Well, kind of… Who is VCE and what’s this Zen stuff? For those not familiar or who need a recap, VCE was created to create converged server, storage I/O networking hardware and software solutions combing technologies from its investors resulting in solutions called vBlocks. The major investors were Cisco who provides the converged servers and I/O networking along with associated management tools as well as EMC who provides the storage systems along with their associated management tools. Minority investors include VMware (who is majority owned by EMC) who provides the server virtualization aka software defined data…

In case you have not heard, the joint initiative (JV) founded in the fall of 2009 between Intel VMware Cisco and EMC called VCE had a change of ownership today.

Well, kind of…

Who is VCE and what’s this Zen stuff?

For those not familiar or who need a recap, VCE was created to create converged server, storage I/O networking hardware and software solutions combing technologies from its investors resulting in solutions called vBlocks.

The major investors were Cisco who provides the converged servers and I/O networking along with associated management tools as well as EMC who provides the storage systems along with their associated management tools. Minority investors include VMware (who is majority owned by EMC) who provides the server virtualization aka software defined data center management tools and Intel whose’s processor chip technologies are used in the vBlocks. What has changed from Zen (e.g. yesterday or in the past) and now is that Cisco has sold the majority (they are retaining about 10%) of its investment ownership in VCE to EMC. Learn more about VCE, their solutions and valueware in this post here (VCE revisited, now and Zen).

Activist activating activity?

EMC pulling VCE in-house which should prop up its own internal sales figures by perhaps a few billion USDs within a year or so (if not sooner) is not as appealing to activists investors who want results now such as selling off parts of the company (e.g. EMC, VMware or other assets) or the entire company.

However EMC has been under pressure from activist shareholder Elliot Management to divest or sell-off portions of this business such as VMware so that the investors (including the activist) can make more money. For example there have been the recent stories about EMC looking to sell or merge with the likes of HP (who is now buying back shares and splitting up its own business) among others which certainly must make the activist investors happy.

However to the activist investors who want to see things sold to make money they are not happy with EMC off buying or investing it appears.

Via Bloomberg

“The last thing on investors’ minds is the future of VCE,” Daniel Ives, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets, wrote in a note today. “EMC has a fire in its house right now and the company appears focused on painting its bedroom (e.g. VCE), while the Street wants a resolution on the strategic ownership situation sooner rather than later.”

Read more at Bloomberg

Whats this EMC Federation stuff?

Note that EMC has organized itself into a federation that consists of EMC Information Infrastructure (EMCII) or what you might know a traditional EMC based storage and related software solutions, VMware, Pivotal and RSA. Also note that each of those federated companies have their own CEO as well as have holdings or ownership of other companies. However all report to a common federated leadership aka EMC. Thus when you hear EMC that could mean depending on the context the federation mother ship which controls the individual companies, or it could also be used to refer to EMCII aka the traditional EMC. Click here to learn more about the EMC federation.

Converging Markets and Opportunities

Looking beyond near-term or quick gains, EMC could be simply doing something others do to take ownership and control over certain things while reducing complexities associated with joint initiatives. For example with EMC and Cisco in a close partnership with VCE, both parties have been free to explore and take part in other joint initiatives such as Cisco with EMC competitors NetApp, HDS among others. Otoh EMC partners with Arista for networking, not to mention via VMware acquired virtual network or software defined network Nicira now called NSX.

EMC is also in a partnership with Lenovo for developing servers to be used by EMC for various platforms to support storage, data and information services while shifting the lower-end SMB storage offerings such as Iomega to the Lenovo channel.

Note that Lenovo is in the process of absorbing the IBM xSeries (e.g. x86 based) business unit that started closing earlier in October (will take several months to completely close in all countries around the world). For its part Cisco is also partnering with hyper-converged solution provider Simplivity while EMC has announced its statement of direction to bring to market its own hyper-converged platform by end of the year. For those not familiar, Hyper-converged solutions are simply the next evolution of converged or pre-bundled turnkey systems (some of you might have just had a Dejavu moment) that today tend to be targeted for SMBs and ROBOs however used for targeted applications such as VDI in larger environments.

What does this have to do with VCE?

IF EMC is about to release as it has made statement of direction statements of a hyper-converged solution by year-end to compete head-on with those from Nutanix, Simplivity and Tintri as well as perhaps to a lesser extent VMwares EVO:Rail, by having more control over VCE means reducing if not eliminating complexity around vBlocks which are Cisco based with EMC storage vs. what ever EMC brings to market for hyper-converged. In the past under the VCE initiatives storage was limited to EMC and servers along with networking from Cisco, hypervisors from VMware, however what happens in the future remains to be seen.

Does this mean EMC is moving even more into servers than just virtual servers?

Tough to say as EMC can not afford to have its sales force lose focus on its traditional core products while ramping up other business, however, the EMC direct and partner teams want and need to keep up account control which means gaining market share and footprint in those accounts. 

This also means EMC needs to find ways to take cost out of the sales and marketing process where possible to streamline which perhaps brining VCE will help do.

Will this perhaps give the EMC direct and partner sales teams a new carrot or incentive to promote converged and hyper-converged at the cost of other competitors or incumbents? Perhaps, lets see what happens in the coming weeks.

What does this all mean?

In a nut shell, IMHO EMC is doing a couple of things here one of which is cleaning up some ownership in JVs to give it self more control, as well as options for doing other business transactions (mergers and acquisitions (M&A), sales or divestiture’s, new joint initiatives, etc). Then there is streamline its business from decision-making to quickly respond to new opportunities as well as routes to markets and other activities (e.g. removing complexity and cost vs. simply cutting cost).

Does this signal the prelude to something else? Perhaps, we know that EMC has made a statement of direction about hyper-converged which with VCE now more under EMC control, perhaps we will see more options from under the VCE umbrella both for lower-end and entry SMB as well as SME and large enterprise organizations.

What about the activist investors?

They are going to make noise as long as they can continue to make more money or get what they want. Publicly I would be shocked if the activist investors were not making statements that EMC should be selling assets not buying or investing.

On the other hand, any smart investor, financial or other analyst should see though the fog of what this relatively simple transaction means in terms of EMC getting further control of its future.

Of course the question will stay does EMC remain in control of its current federation of EMC, VMware, Pivotal, RSA along each of their respective holdings, does EMC doe a block buster merger, divestiture or acquisition?

Take a step back, look at the big picture!

Some things to keep an eye on:

  • Will this move help streamline decision-making enabling new solutions to be brought to market and customers quicker?
  • While there is a VMware focus, don’t forget about the long-running decades old relationship with Microsoft and how that plays into the equation
  • Watch for what EMC releases with their hyper-converged solution as well as where it is focused, not to mention how sold
  • Also watch the EMC and Lenovo join initiative, both for the Iomega storage activity as well as what EMC and Lenovo do with and for servers
  • Speaking of Lenovo, unless I missed something as of the time of writing this, have you noticed that Lenovo is not yet part of the VMware EVO:Rail initiative?

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
Technical Operations Engineer at a cloud provider with 51-200 employees
Vendor
I cannot praise the support I got from them enough but a vBlock only makes really good sense if your existing infrastructure is Cisco based
So, you want to get into the whole virtualization scene and you don’t want to deal with vast amounts of vendors, contracts and all the other things that tend to follow' A modern and virtualized infrastructure can be a pain, but VCE has a remedy for this, at least within certain parameters. The VCE vBlock™is an all-in-one virtualization platform that comes complete with a midrange, tiered  FC SAN from EMC, Cicso 5548 switches to tie into your existing infrastructure (assuming you already have one that is) and a Cisco UCS blade chassis for processing power. All fit into a couple of pretty racks, delivered and configured (if you want it so) by capable professionals. Okay. So far, so good, so what' Let’s discuss the good part first: You get a complete package, and a decent UI to go with it…

So, you want to get into the whole virtualization scene and you don’t want to deal with vast amounts of vendors, contracts and all the other things that tend to follow' A modern and virtualized infrastructure can be a pain, but VCE has a remedy for this, at least within certain parameters.

The VCE vBlock™is an all-in-one virtualization platform that comes complete with a midrange, tiered  FC SAN from EMC, Cicso 5548 switches to tie into your existing infrastructure (assuming you already have one that is) and a Cisco UCS blade chassis for processing power. All fit into a couple of pretty racks, delivered and configured (if you want it so) by capable professionals.

Okay. So far, so good, so what'

Let’s discuss the good part first: You get a complete package, and a decent UI to go with it. All you need to do is provision a set number of data stores, hosts and vlans, press deploy and 2-3 hours later you are ready to go. No mucking about with WWNs, LUN provisioning, CDs with ESXi and so on. UIM, as the UI management tool is called, feels a bit clunky right off the bat, but you get used to it and chances are that you won’t see all that much of it when you have deployed your stuff anyway.

EMC’s tiering also seems to work OK, from I admit, my limited experience with it. If it works, there is no reason to overly mess with it.

And now for the not-so-good, at least in this author’s not so humble opinion.

A vBlock only makes really good sense if your existing infrastructure is Cisco based. Cisco has their own way of doing stuff and does not play nice with other equipment. The processing hardware isn’t really that good either, especially considering what Cisco likes to charge you for what is nothing more than mid range x86 blades.

In everyday operations you hit another couple of snags. The default setup is based on the (in VMware circuits) highly debated Nexus 1000V™. I will not get into the love-hate relationship VMware admins have with this piece of software, but I feel obliged to mention that it dies for me no less than 3 times in a 2 month time span taking the entire production environment with it. Put a couple of hundred servers on a vBlock and that is costly downtime. However, there is nothing that stops you from using VMware switches, but Nexus 1000V™ is somewhat implied.

A word on VCE support: They are very competent and the most helpful support team I have ever come across in my 15 years in this business. I cannot praise the support I got from them enough.

2 considerations you need to make are:

Can I afford this' The vBlock is portrayed as a high end piece of machinery. The problem is that all the components are mid range at best.

Can I live with the configuration limitations' You are stuck at Cisco’s mercy if you want to upgrade. Cisco does a lot of stuff well, and getting paid is one of them.

How about scaling' This is a possible issue for the enterprise market. Each vBlock is its own entity. The VMs on a vBlock are stuck there and can’t be moved off it without downtime and some pretty heavy admin magic. Assuming it is available that is. 10 vBlocks means you will have 10 SANs, 20 physical 5548 switches and so on to administer. Imagine the horror of administering 100 of these babies'

PROS:

Easy setup and roll out

Comes in a complete package with one vendor and excellent support

CONS:

Price

Scalability

(Expensive) Vendor lock in

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user7671
Architect at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
An excellent product for scale up and scale out approach
I believe vBlock as an Architecture is geared for well designed and highly scalable Cloud implemenations where the emphasis is on "standardization". vBlock is an excellent product for scale up and scale out approach. By coupling Compute, Storage, Network, Hypervisor into a single Rack, the Rack is self becomes a "unit". Furthermore, you get a single support group. You dont need to run to multiple vendors/partners for support. vBlock basically breaks the concept of a having a monolithic tiered SAN and Access layer Networking. Instead, you get distributed Storage and Networking in the Racks and this makes vBlock a product highly scalable.

I believe vBlock as an Architecture is geared for well designed and highly scalable Cloud implemenations where the emphasis is on "standardization". vBlock is an excellent product for scale up and scale out approach. By coupling Compute, Storage, Network, Hypervisor into a single Rack, the Rack is self becomes a "unit".

Furthermore, you get a single support group. You dont need to run to multiple vendors/partners for support. vBlock basically breaks the concept of a having a monolithic tiered SAN and Access layer Networking. Instead, you get distributed Storage and Networking in the Racks and this makes vBlock a product highly scalable.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Ronald Barefield
Infrastructure Expert at a pharma/biotech company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Designed to make IT life simpler (infrastructure framework) and more cost effective (an appliance) for an organization.

Valuable Features:

Vblock™ – 3 of the World Technology Leaders Come together (something rarely seen) 

To start out I am NOT an employee for VCE/EMC/Cisco. This is based off of my own opinions and experiences. Now let’s get started 

The future of technology seems to be about effectively using datacenter resources and underutilized hardware. I believe that you need to converge infrastructure components to effectively use a datacenter. To me, a Vblock™ is basically a Technology Appliance that allows organizations to raise the bar for infrastructure utilization.

In order to maximize you’re spending (OPEX - operating expense) as well as your infrastructure utilization, you will have to have convergence and Vblock™ does this effectively. 

I also believe that Vblock™ will allow you to build and get to a cloud model in a much faster well-organized way.What I believe and have seen with the Vblock™ is that it allows an organization to move more effectively toward a Private Cloud model as well as maintain a high-level of performance to their customers. The Vblock™ alone will NOT get you to a “cloud model” but it’s a major step in the right direction. Vblock™ allows you to have a converged infrastructure that allows you to pool storage, computing and networking to optimize datacenter infrastructure (lower TCO - total cost of ownership). Seemingly, you get better performance in a black box at a lower cost. 

In my opinion Vblock™ technology allows you to virtualize and consolidate your systems while continuing to provide a high-level of performance that has been tested prior to running in your datacenter environment (validation of an outcome). Vblock™ (Standard components and devices based on my experiences): 

  • Cisco UCS blade chassis 5108s. • Cisco B230s and B200s UCS Blade Models
  • VMax and VNX 7500 Storage Models (EMC storage devices). 
  • Cisco networking switches (6140s & 55xx) and FCOE inside UCS for connectivity (Standard Vblock™) 
  • EMC RecoverPoint™ SAN replication (Block Base) with native splitters on the storage devices

Vblock™ allows an organization to standardize on what I call a ‘complete infrastructure framework/platform’ with many different components (Compute/Network/Storage). This can simplify an organization’s support as well as help companies move away from a fragmented infrastructure. This convergence (pooling) allows you to share resources to infrastructure components at the same time. 

Vblock™ allows for higher density level in a datacenter which can reduce your physical footprint. I have seen where Vblock™ technology allows cost savings by reduction in hardware maintenance cost (smaller carbon footprint) as well as consolidation on the virtual side. 

UCS manager allows companies to profile their systems for specific settings based on what application may run and where it will run (server profiles) for fast deployments and provisioning. This builds in versatility when you have hardware failures. 

Finally, Vblock™ model has allowed for ease of management from my experiences.

In addition, Vblock™ does enable disaster recovery plans/exercises and effective off-site recoverability to be more structured (i.e. simpler to perform) from my experience. That’s not only the Vblock™ but a major component of disaster recovery and business continuity. I have also experienced EMC RecoverPoint™ deployed with Vblock™ technology to perform state-full SAN replication on the backend with EMC storage to do block replication. This type of replication allows for a smaller RPO (recover point objective). I have also experienced EMC Data Domain® and Avamar® Grids deployed for effective virtual machine and database backup and restore capability. The replication from Vblock™ to Vblock™ allows us to focus on true “application” DRs vs. infrastructure DR opportunities. 

My Opinion: The Vblock™ is designed, to make IT life simpler (infrastructure framework) and more cost effective (an appliance) for an organization.

Room for Improvement:

I think there needs to be more tools to monitor and manage the Vblock™ as a whole, instead of pieces.

Scalability Issues:

Vblock™ has full scalability. It is flexible from storage to networking components to Cisco UCS blades & chassis (opinion - which in this day and age is one of the leaders in the industry for server hardware) and supports many different configurations.

Other Advice:

The views and opinions expressed above are the author's opinions and not do not necessarily reflect his employer’s policies or positions and the author does not intend to so represent his employer.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
VP of IT at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Vendor
I would recommend Vblock for a VDI solution.

Valuable Features:

No downtime since implementation Excellent performance Ease of Management Time-to-Value

Room for Improvement:

Post integration support from vendor

Other Advice:

We were able to achieve significant capital savings in our tech refresh capital projects due to implementing the Vblock solution in our environment.

Valuable Features:

No downtime since implementation Excellent performance Ease of Management Time-to-Value

Room for Improvement:

Post integration support from vendor

Other Advice:

We were able to achieve significant capital savings in our tech refresh capital projects due to implementing the Vblock solution in our environment.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user4647
Infrastructure Expert at a insurance company with 501-1,000 employees
Vendor
1st Year in Review - pre-sales vs. reality
Well we have just passed a year of Vblock ownership and the last year has passed rather painlessly. Our Vblock was one of the first out there, delivered in November 2011. I wanted to provide some pros and cons of Vblock ownership. Some of the themes are not Vblock specific, but worth bearing in mind because there will always be a gap between what you hear from pre-sales and what the reality is. Pros: VCE – The company has been constantly improving which is good to see. Not content to rest on their laurels, they really have grabbed the bull by the horns and they are innovating in a lot of areas. Vblock – The concept of the Vblock itself deserves a mention. VCE are definitely on the right path… it’s like the first generation Model T Ford. I’m sure old Henry had hundred’s of suppliers that…

Well we have just passed a year of Vblock ownership and the last year has passed rather painlessly.

Our Vblock was one of the first out there, delivered in November 2011. I wanted to provide some pros and cons of Vblock ownership. Some of the themes are not Vblock specific, but worth bearing in mind because there will always be a gap between what you hear from pre-sales and what the reality is.

Pros:

VCE – The company has been constantly improving which is good to see. Not content to rest on their laurels, they really have grabbed the bull by the horns and they are innovating in a lot of areas.

Vblock – The concept of the Vblock itself deserves a mention. VCE are definitely on the right path… it’s like the first generation Model T Ford. I’m sure old Henry had hundred’s of suppliers that provided the components for his Model T and he came along with the assembly line production and he put it all together. This is like what is happening over at VCE. Over time I’m hoping that the integration between components will become more and more seamless as the demand for pre-configured virtualisation platforms grows and grows and the designers behind each of the components are forced to work closer together.

Management and Support - If you have a bloated IT support team in large sprawling organisation, a Vblock can help reduce your head count by simplifying your environment. One thing converged infrastructure platforms are good for, is breaking down the traditional support silos with regards to storage, network, compute, virtualisation. When all the components are so tightly integrated, your silo’d operations team morphs into one.

Compatibility Matrix – This has to be the biggest selling point in my book. Taking away the pain of ensuring compatibility between so many different components. The VCE matrix is far more stringent than individual vendor product testing and therefore far more trust worthy. Try getting a complete infrastructure upgrade over a single weekend across storage, network, compute and virtualisation components through your change management team. It’s not going to happen unless it’s been pre-tested.

Single line of support – Being able to call a single number when there is any issue, immensely simplifies fault finding and problem resolution. Worth it alone just for this and the matrix.

Single pain of glass – This is where UIMp is starting to come into its own. It’s been a long road, but the future looks good. VCE’s goal is to replace each of the individual management consoles so that VCE customers can use UIMp for all their automated provisioning. When it works, it really does simplify provisioning.

Customer Advocate – In my experience the customer advocate offers great value. Extremely useful when managing high severity incidents and ensuring your environment remains up to date and in support, with regular services reviews and providing an easy path into VCE to organise training sessions, bodies to fill gaps in support, provide direct line of contact to escalation engineers and just deal with any queries and questions you may have about your environment.

Cons:

The AMP – the major design flaw in the AMP for me is the 1GB network. Data transfers between VMs in our 10GB service cluster can achieve 300 Mbps; as soon as the AMP is involved it drops to 30Mbps. Really annoying and what is in the AMP' vCenter, which is used to import virtual machines. Let’s say you are doing a migration of 1000 VMs for example… that 30Mbps is going to get really annoying and it has.

Cost – The Vblock hardware isn’t so bad, but what really surprised me is the amount of and cost of the licenses. Want to add a UCS Blade' No problem, that will be £5k for the blade and about £3k for the licenses – UCS, UIMp, VNX, vSphere,  etc. It all adds up pretty quickly. Ensuring you adequately size your UCS blades up front, i.e. plenty of memory and CPU is really important.

Management & Support – Converged Infrastructure Platforms require a lot of ongoing support and management. This is an issue not limited to VCE. It’s just the nature of the beast. If you have  an immature IT organisation and have had a fairly piecemeal IT infrastructure and support team up until now, you will be in for a shock when you purchase a converged infrastructure platform. There’s no doubt a Vblock is an excellent product, but it’s excellent because it uses the latest and greatest, which can be complex. It also comprises multiple products  from 3 different vendors – EMC, Cisco and VMware, so you need the right skillset to manage it, which can be expensive to find and train. It takes at least a year for someone to become familiar with all components of the Vblock  You’re always going to have employees with core skills like virtualisation, storage, network, compute, etc, but you do want people to broaden their skills and be comfortable with the entire stack.

Integration between products – See above, multiple products from 3 different vendors. At the moment the VCE wrapper is just that, little more than a well designed wrapper, lots of testing and a single line of support. Ok, so EMC own VMware, but it seems to make little difference. EMC can’t even align products within their own company, how on earth can they expect to align products with a subsidiary'  If the Vblock is going to be a single vendor product, then all 3x vendors need to invest in closer co-operation to align product lifecycles and integration. VMware release vCenter 5.1 and Powerpath have to release an emergency patch to support it' Going back to my Model T analogy, the Vblock is never going to become a real Model T until Cisco buys EMC or EMC drop Cisco and start making the compute\network components. Not so far fetched.

Complexity – The VCE wrapper hasn’t changed the complexity. (This is the same with HP or Flexpod.) This is another myth. “We’ve made it simple!”. Er, no, you haven’t. You’ve just done all the design work and testing for us. Until the integration above takes places, which will allow for simplification of the overall package its going to remain just a wrapper and it’s still going to remain an extremely complex piece of kit. VCE have focused efforts on improving UIMp to simplify Vblock provisioning and to simplify Vblock management through a single interface but really these are just band aids if the individual components are made by separate companies.

Patching – Even though there is a compatibility matrix, which does the integration and regression testing for you, it still doesn’t take away the pain\effort of actually deploying the patches. Having a Vblock doesn’t mean there is no patching required. This is a common pre-sales myth, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll do all the patching for you.’ Sure, but at what cost' Security patches, bug fixes and feature enhancements come out more or less monthly and this has to be factored in to your budget and over time costs.

Monitoring and Reporting – This is a pain and I know there are plans afoot at VCE to simplify this, but currently there is no single management point you can query to monitor the vitals of a Vblock  If you want to know the status of UCS: UCS manager, VNX: Unisphere, ESXi: vCenter, etc. For example, you buy VCOps but that only plugs into vCenter, so you are only aware of what resources vCenter has been assigned. To get a helicopter view of the entire Vblock from a single console is impossible. UIMp gives you a bit of a storage overview: available vs provisioned, but does not give you much more than that. So you end up buying these tactical solutions for each of the individual components, like VNX Monitoring and Reporting. Hopefully soon we will be able to query a single device and get up to date health checks and alerting for all Vblock components.

Niggles – There have been a few small niggles, mainly issues between vCenter/Cisco 1000V and vCenter/VNX 7500 but overall for the amount of kit we purchased it has not been bad. I think a lot of these issues had to do with vCenter 5\ESXi 5. As soon as Upgrade 1 came out, everything settled down. Note to self don’t be quick up upgrade to vCenter 6/ESXi 6!

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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