looking for converged cloud datacenter for your IT Infrastructure?

One of the biggest challenges for any CEO/CTO or Business Unit is how and why should they migrate on Cloud-based converged infrastructure.

what are converged cloud datacenter?

I am going to explain why and what kind of converged cloud  datacenter one should opt for.

A converged datacenter includes some of the basic elements like compute, network, storage, virtualization and security which need less space, power, cooling and operational costs. Then you put your application on top of it to host IaaS , SaaS & PaaS (or in general XaaS where X stands for any kind of service in IT Industry).

There are multiple vendors, OEMs who are ready with their solution of converged infrastructure including Cisco, HP, IBM, DELL, HITACHI, NetApp, EMC, VMWARE  and many more. But every OEM is dependent on each other when it comes to combine all the elements of converged infrastructure or unified computing.

converged cloud datacenter: what benefits?

So why should one go for converged datacenter to support private, public or a hybrid cloud?

Because they are easy to design and deploy. And also because they bring infrastructures ready for operations in a couple of days (unlike the legacy infrastructure solutions which takes time - in fact months and years - to plan, manage, design, deploy with involvement of multiple teams and uses more space, power and cooling solutions for your racks, storage and network equipment in a datacenter).

Ultimately higher costs and more budget which are always tough to adopt and defend… So yes converged infrastructure is the solution to this challenge!

who are the main players?

The two famous converged datacenter infrastructure PODs which are doing great in the datacenter market are VBLOCK and FLEXPOD. The best fact is that both of them share networking platforms from Cisco (i.e. Nexus Switches - Nexus 5K and 7K) and compute platforms from Cisco UCS (i.e. unified computing system).

The difference between the two PODS is the type of storage. If it’s a VBLOCK it will use EMC as storage and if it’s a FLEXPOD it will use NetApp Storage. So the decision depends on whether you want NetApp or EMC storage in your datacenter… though both of them share almost the same networking features.

So why don’t you go and ask for a quote from both EMC and NetApp with the same storage capacity and IOPS requirements? You need to read some books to understand IOPS and performance.

my personal recommendations

I have been involved in design, deployment and run of both kind of PODs for various customers including some custom pods... My personal experience says different customers have different view and requirements. But everyone needs flexibility in their design as per their budget, performance, current infrastructure, type of application to be hosted, expansion options, scalability and many more.

So my idea is that a POD should be flexible enough for a service provider to integrate as per their own requirements. Both VBLOCK and FLEXPOD have their own set of pros and cons… These are the factors I’m looking at whenever I get an opportunity to design a converged infrastructure:

  1. The prime factor to decide is that it should be very flexible and you can tweak your infrastructure as per your need.
  2. It support all industry standard virtualization products from VMware Vsphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenApp on Bare Metal x86 architecture.
  3. MDS 9148 Fabric Switches should not be compulsory in a POD design. In fact you can connect your storage array directly to Cisco UCS systems in your custom design. UCS Fabric Interconnects can work as Fabric Switch. Very cost effective as you don’t need MDS switches in your DC.
  4. FC based BOOT on SAN is not mandatory in a POD design. Boot on iSCSI can be designed if you don’t want FC traffic in your infrastructure. You can further reduce your CAPEX and OPEX costs by a great margin.
  5. Should be easy to cable and rack with introduction of new unified computing system from Cisco.
  6. Flexibility of opting single point of management or multiple point of management for each component of  Infrastructure Block.
  7. Interoperability of hardware and software should be on OEM’s (Cisco, NetApp, EMC, Vmware, etc. ) recommendations and a 2nd level of interoperability always creates a deadlock situation.

The choice is yours based on the above factors. VBLOCK was leading the converged infrastructure market until the beginning of this year but FLEXPOD pushed VCE/VBLOCK to 2nd place in converged infrastructure market share recently.


My personal choice for converged infrastructure is a flexible POD which can give me flexibility to design as per my budget and performance requirements. In FLEXPOD you get the opportunity to customize your design but in VBLOCK you won’t have this option. In my next blog post I will highlight pros and cons of both VBLOCK and FLEXPOD. Stay tuned…


Photo credit: © potowizard - Fotolia.com

Deepak Jha

I'm an expert solutions engineer working in IT delivery. I have more than 8 years of professional experience in the I.T. infrastructure data center and cloud computing field. I'm specializing in IaaS design and deployment of private and public cloud infrastructure based on Cisco datacenter technologies.