Convergence from Interop

Last week I attended Interop in New York City where I had the opportunity to speak to many companies about converged infrastructure and cloud solutions.  Every vendor has a different definition of what convergence is (it is not melting your data center into a toxic blob) and how it fits into a cloud story.  Back at the office, Dave Vellante debriefed me on what I saw – see the video clip below:

Converged Infrastructure

A converged infrastructure can be a fully converged infrastructure or reference architecture.  HP offers a number of converged solutions including the Matrix (basically HP blade servers with management and sometimes storage) and POD (Performance Optimized Datacenter – fully self-contained).  HP’s VP of Converged Infrastructure, Doug Oathout also told me about an initiative known as “HP Garage” which is targeted for 2012 and will be a 4-8 rack converged infrastructure (almost like a small POD for inside a datacenter) with self-contained power (DC) and cooling (water).  HP is looking to stave off attacks from former partner Cisco, which now sells servers and Vblocks, the converged server/network/storage infrastructure from the VCE Coalition.   Like HP, Cisco has a number of converged offerings, in addition to the preconfigured Vblock with EMC, there is a reference architecture SMT (Secure Multi-Tenancy) solution with NetApp (see Aaron Delp’s blog comparing SMT and Vblock).

While IBM did not exhibit at Interop, Dell had a large presence including a keynote from new VP/GM for the Networking Business Unit, Dario Zamarian.  I spoke to Dario and he told me that Dell will work with partners Juniper, Brocade and Aruba Networks to complete its stack along with Dell’s storage and server assets.  Don’t expect that Dell will look to buy any of these multi-billion dollar partners; Dario hinted that a smaller acquisition similar to IBM’s Blade Networks (BNT) or Cisco’s Linksys purchases could be possible in the future.

Training for Convergence

The domains between server, network and storage are blurring thanks to the trends of virtualization and convergence.  Vendors are looking to use training to help companies adopt these changes.  Emulex has a Management Mind Meld book that can teach both network and storage administrators how to support convergence.  HP has also updated its ExpertONE certification program (now lead by Lyle Speirs, formerly of Cisco).  Cisco certified professionals can take an accelerated (up to 77%) version of networking courses.  For those that want to be fully cross-trained on convergence, HP has the Master Accredited System Engineer (Master ASE or MASE) program.  What other examples of cross training are people seeing in the industry to help deal with convergence?

For more on convergence, be sure to attend a free virtual seminar called Network Evolution: Adapting to New Architectures on October 27th from (TechTarget’s networking group).  There will be a cloud presentation by John Burke, a virtualization presentation by Eric Siebert and I will be presenting a converged network presentation.  My session will cover the latest in FC, Ethernet (FCoE, iSCSI, 40/100GbE) and InfiniBand.  The session is an hour long, about half of which is Q&A from the audience, so please come and bring your questions – register here.

Disclosure: I attended Interop thanks to HP, but am under no obligation to write about HP solutions.  The opinions contained in this article are my own.


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