Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Monday, July 22, 2024

Integrated Systems Rankings Led by VCE, Cisco, Oracle 

An emerging enterprise category of integrated systems that combine servers, storage and network infrastructure is led by the converged infrastructure alliance VCE, according to the latest in a series of "Magic Quadrant" rankings by market researcher Gartner.

VCE, which was formed by Cisco Systems and EMC along with investments from VMware and Intel, combines network infrastructure with virtualized cloud-based computing in its Vblock series of offerings. Gartner lists VCE as among the leaders in its emerging market category along Cisco-Net-App with its FlexPod product.

Oracle, with its Exadata database machine, was also ranked among the leading suppliers of integrated systems, a market that Gartner estimates is growing at an annual rate of more than 50 percent.

The Oracle product is an example of what Gartner refers to as an "integrated stack system" commonly used to deploy a specific workload. Another example is IBM's PureApplication System. IBM was ranked by Gartner among the industry's "visionaries" along with Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Nutanix, and SimpliVity.

A more generic "integrated infrastructure systems" category includes VCE's Vblock, HP's ConvergedSystem, and IBM's PureFlex system, Gartner said.

"The majority of integrated systems are the effective packaging of server, storage and networking components that are sold as separate products in their own right," Gartner noted in its "Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems" rankings. (Gartner prohibits the posting of the Magic Quadrant, but you can go download the report yourself to see the relative spacing between the vendors.)

The rankings also highlighted "fabric-based computing" as another emerging integrated system where the platform is aggregated from modules linked via a fabric or switched backplane. Key vendors in this category include SimpliVity, Nutanix, and HP's Moonshot system.

The Gartner rankings are divided among industry leaders, visionaries, challengers and "niche players." Teradata was the lone market challenger. Niche players by order of rank were Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, China's Huawei, and Unisys.

VCE said its Vblock series racked up more than $1 billion in sales last year. It plans to integrate Cisco's Intercloud Fabric into Vblock as a way to migrate workloads to the cloud.


According to Gartner, VCE's "momentum is due, in large part, to growing adoption in large global organizations and among large service providers, reinforced by strong partners in Cisco and EMC that helped VCE compete against formidable competition."

Still, the study warned that the partners' competitive interests could lead to fragmentation within the integrated systems alliance.

Perhaps the biggest winner in the rankings was Cisco Systems, key member of the VCE alliance and partner with NetApp on the FlexPod product. According to Gartner, the integrated system offering introduced by NetApp and Cisco in 2010 has so far attracted an estimated 3,700 customers. "Market acceptance for FlexPod has been strong, and service providers make up a significant proportion of the base," Gartner said.

The Cisco-NetApp offering is said to benefit from a single architecture that unifies computing, storage, and network switching along with the ability to scale from small companies to a large, multitenant cloud infrastructure aimed at larger enterprises.

Gartner's main beef with Cisco's partnership approach to integrated systems was the possible customer preference for a "holistic, single- vendor solution" from the likes of Oracle, IBM, or HP.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).