NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) will announce a partnership today with Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and VMware (NYSE: VMW) that will unite the data storage, networking, virtualization and server capabilities of the three companies.
While not a formal product like EMC's (NYSE: EMC) Vblock partnership with VMware and Cisco, the NetApp-Cisco-VMware alliance includes 82 pages of reference architectures and unified service and support from the three companies.
The partnership, to be unveiled at a noon Eastern event today, combines NetApp FAS and V series storage, MultiStore and Data Motion technology, Cisco Nexus switches and Unified Computing System (UCS) hardware, and VMware's vSphere, vShield Zones and vCenter.
"Integrated stacks" composed of networking, storage and servers have become a growing trend, with EMC, HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) among the other companies pursuing integrated data center strategies.
The new Secure Multi-tenancy Design Architecture from NetApp, Cisco and VMware "provides enhanced security in cloud environments by isolating the information technology resources and applications of different clients, business units or departments that share a common IT infrastructure," according to the companies.
The architecture helps IT administrators "establish the appropriate quality of service for each resource layer and to deliver consistent service performance levels for the applications in each layer."
The design reference architecture has been jointly tested and validated as a Cisco Validated Design.
Cisco, NetApp and VMware are also introducing a global 24-hour cooperative support model, promising "a more streamlined response from Cisco, NetApp and VMware to identify and solve potential issues related to the solutions used in the architecture."
Parag Patel, VMware's vice president of alliances, told Enterprise Storage Forum that the companies have designed a "seamless process on a lot of dimensions so the customer gets a unified experience." Customers can call any of the three companies to get their problems addressed.
Patel called the joint architecture "quite scalable."
Ed Bugnion, vice president and CTO of Cisco's Server, Access and Virtualization Business Unit, told ESF that the cost of the reference architectures would be high without the "dramatically simplified infrastructure" of Cisco's UCS platform.
10 Gigabit Ethernet plays a central role in the partnership. "We all believe that's the direction the industry is going," said Patrick Rogers, NetApp's vice president for solutions marketing. He noted that NetApp and Cisco were first to market with an integrated FCoE solution.
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