VCE – A Historical Perspective

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On November 4th, 2009 The Virtual Computing Environment was born. On that day, three announcements were made.

  • Vblock – The reference architecture, an amazing effort to bring together a cross functional team from VMware, Cisco & EMC, to produce a documented architecture as a foundation for cloud, that all companies would market and sell together
  • The VCE Coalition – A partnership formed to evangelize and bring a market force to selling the Vblock architecture
  • Acadia Enterprises – A Joint Venture formed by Cisco, EMC and VMware targeted for 250 Million in revenues and about 200 employees – focusing on creating a services center of excellence for Vblocks

The market feedback for this partnership was compelling, the coalition quickly brought on its first few customers and tens of thousands of Cisco, VMware & EMC field sales teams were evangelizing Vblock for data centers.

Cisco, EMC & VMware quickly began to expand teams within their own companies, dedicated to the effort of architecting and selling Vblocks. At EMC, Chad Sakac quickly took several vSpecialists and dedicated them to the VCE effort. He additionally embarked on a journey of ensuring that his worldwide vSpecialist team was capable of evangelizing the Vblock architecture from compute through network to storage. Cisco & VMware dedicated their own organizations to the coalition. VMware called this team simply VCE and Cisco created a team called SST. The SST organization was the team I joined when I came to the coalition in May 2010.

Coming back to Cisco was an emotional experience because I personally had worked at Cisco for many years and I was at a competitor to EMC who was looking at Vblock as a competitive threat.

Upon joining the coalition the first thing I noticed was that the coalition collaboration was strong but our strategy for going to market was colored by the organization you were in. That of course was the parent company which employed you.

If you received a VCE – Vblock presentation, as a customer or partner in that time you likely have seen a technology conversation heavily slanted to the company who employed the person presenting. This sort of see an EMC guy present Vblock and hear about storage, see a Cisco guy present and hear about UCS and see a VMware guy present and here about ESX & future vCloud Director was not delivering the right messaging to our customers.

In addition, Acadia Enterprises was looking like a services competitor to many of our partners. That was in actuality never the intent. Acadia was focused on a services area of the market, serving as a Center of Excellence for leading innovation and best practices for partner services around Vblock.

This was inter-mixed against the shear demand for Vblocks, which far exceeded the best expectations of leadership. The first Vblocks actually shipped in January of 2010, only a few weeks after announcement. What is amazing is that the first Vblocks to ship were significant in size and stretched across multiple decision makers and budgeting efforts, within a customers business.

Demand for Vblocks simply far exceeded planning and expectations of the original Vblock/VCE Project called Project Alpine.

So – customer demand, organizational structure and competitive threats to target the mission of Acadia placed the organization at a cross roads only 3 months into its existence. A new plan needed to be implemented.

The plan, use the Acadia Enterprises Joint Venture as a vehicle to move dedicated VCE resources from each parent company to Acadia. Change the Acadia Enterprises go to market plan, preparing to hire one thousand employees and quickly grow to a 1 billion dollar company focused on Vblock as a product exclusively. Also, use VCE as its originally intended Center Of Excellence for Professional Services, led by a worldwide partner community.

This plan was initiated by the hiring of Michael Capellas as CEO in May of 2010. Michael was the former CEO of HP/Compaq and MCI/Worldcom as well as a 7 year veteran of Cisco’s Board of Directors where he was chair of Cisco’s acquisition committee.

Michael joined Acadia as CEO and quickly began to assemble a leadership team across the organizations which would ultimately form the new VCE company.

  • Sales
  • Product Engineering
  • Solutions Engineering
  • Seamless Support & Service
  • HR
  • Finance

All the while, demand I spoke of on Vblock launch was increasing. In the summer of 2010 two significant milestones were passed by VCE and Vblock. The first was that the 50th Vblock was sold, soon after that Vblocks crossed the $100 Million in shipments.

In the summer of 2010 demand for Vblocks once again outpaced expectations but this second thrust of demand was on a foundation of customers who provided invaluable feedback in the shaping of VCE’s next product evolution, “Vblock as a Product” < more on that here.

VCE, to meet this demand, needed to structure the company in a manor that could address the opportunity in partnership with our parent companies. Details of that plan included the sales team being segmented for Enterprise, Channels, Service Provider, Public Sector and Systems Integrators. Engineering would be segmented into three organizations

The leadership team, across all functions, would begin the process of building their teams and synchronizing the very best of the best that each company had to offer for this opportunity.

Moving hundreds of employees from each parent company into the Acadia Enterprises Joint Venture proved to be a monumental task, but one that the leadership team and the employees navigated with exceptional focus. The product engineering, solutions engineering and support teams were working to create the 1st Vblock sold as a “product” that is a fully manufactured platform and hypervisor functional at delivery.

Selling a new way to consume IT to customers was a large enough challenge but we simultaneously needed to change the way each parent company sales team positioned Vblocks. No longer would Vblocks be field assembled components, based on a reference architecture, they had evolved to a turn-key platform, with incredible stability and scalability. The weeks and months that followed this effort our channels team focused on rapidly accelerating the number of VCE partners around the world. VCE had quickly established 120+ partners in 29 countries and Vblock, VCE & Acadia had yet to be a year old.

In December 2010, at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, NV – VCE/Acadia announced that the name Acadia was gone and VCE – The Virtual Computing Environment Company was born. This company was far more than a marketing announcement but really an announcement that we had been busy for the last 12 months, building a company in size and scope that far exceeded original plans. During that time VCE passed $100 Million in shipments and attained over $1.2 Billion in product pipeline.

It’s worth stating again. $1.2 Billion in pipeline at the first anniversary of the products existence. Look up your favorite tech giant and see how long that company took to achieve $100 Million in sales. VCE did it in nearly 6 months of existence.

Tomorrow, a new world opens as VCE embarks on the journey of the second year. In this second year, expectations are far greater, the foundation is built, the teams have formed and the Game is On.

Game On,
Trey

 

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  1. [...] VCE with $173.5M invested. The companies are not disclosing revenue of the venture, except that it passed $100M in revenue in about 6 months and as of December 2010 had 65 “major customers” and was growing that number rapidly. In July [...]

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