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EMC Federation center stage as VMworld 2015 opens

With the future of EMC Federation in the air, the storage giant launches bundle for end user computing and updates its hybrid cloud package.

SAN FRANCISCO -- As speculation grows that EMC and VMware will change their corporate structure and perhaps break apart, the vendors today unveiled two technology packages that include products from both.

EMC used the start of VMworld 2015 to launch the Federation End User Computing  (Fed EUC) stack for VDI deployments and preview updates to the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud.

The EMC Federation includes several companies owned by EMC, including VMware, RSA, VCE, Pivotal and Virtustream. That federation is under attack from investors and others who argue that EMC would be better off breaking itself into pieces, or at least changing its stake in VMware.

EMC owns 80% of VMware, but is widely reported to be considering spinning the virtualization company off, buying all of it or even selling EMC to VMware in a reverse merger. EMC has also explored a merger with Hewlett-Packard, which is splitting into two companies, since investor Elliott Management began pressuring EMC to make a move to increase its share price. Hedge fund manager Elliott signed a standstill agreement with EMC in January promising not to interfere until Sept. 1. That agreement is about to expire and EMC's stock price has dropped in the ensuing months.

EMC executives argue the Federation is necessary to compete with larger vendors such as HP, IBM, Cisco and Oracle whose technologies span the IT disciplines.

Meanwhile, customers have to make buying decisions today.

Canadian health care service provider eHealth Saskatchewan has signed on to implement Fed EUC along with close to a petabyte of storage on EMC XtremIO, VNX and Data Domain storage and ViPR software for replication.

Wilbour Craddock, eHealth vice president of IT, said he has to make decisions now and can't wait until any vendor corporate restructuring takes place.

"We hear all of the rumors," Craddock said. "We take those rumors for what they are. When we're negotiating deals, we're reliant on partners that exist today and the information they provide to us. If things change down the road, we'll deal with that as they come. We have a project that needs to be delivered in the fall, and I don't have time to worry about if companies are going to break apart. I can't run my business based on those possibilities."

Craddock said eHealth is building a self-service portal through Fed EUC as part of an initiative to offer greater services to Saskatchewan's 15 regional health care organizations. It includes VMware's vSphere hypervisors, Horizon with View VDI software and NSX software-defined networking along with EMC arrays and Cisco UCS and networking.

Craddock said eHealth is starting with about 800 virtual desktops for two health care regions and will soon have the ability to deliver 6,000 virtual desktops for five regions

EMC executives argue the Federation is necessary to compete with larger vendors such as HP, IBM, Cisco and Oracle whose technologies span the IT disciplines.

Outside of the Cisco gear, everything else comes from the EMC Federation.

"Choosing the Federation was about time to market," Craddock said. "We were getting a pre-packaged solution built on standardized technologies, but verified certified to deliver on outcomes we were looking for. It aligned to projects that our customers demand."

Along with the self-service portal, Fed UEC allows customers to automate frequent tasks, deliver applications faster and increase performance with EMC's XtremIO all-flash array, although other EMC storage platforms are available instead of XtremIO.

Planned enhancements to the FEHC include the ability to automatically deliver new services as they are supported on VMware vSphere and OpenStack, more data protection and security features and the option of using VCE VxRack hyper-converged system that launched in May.

Jay Chitnis, director of EMC's end user computing solutions, described Fed EUC as "a culmination of hardware, software, services and support" from federation companies.

"We've integrated and validated all key components needed to deliver the end-user computing experience," Chitnis said. He said Fed EUC will help customers build virtual desktop infrastructures faster, improve efficiency and performance for end users, and reduce complexity by getting everything from one vendor.

The new EMC Federation offerings do nothing to simplify the status of the vendors behind them, however, and the EMC Federation may be no more by time the new offerings become generally available.

Adding to the confusion, a stream of executives left the EMC Federation companies since July. They include VMware CTO Ben Fahti and chief storage strategist Chuck Hollis, EMC chief marketing officer Jonathan Martin, and Jeetu Patel, who was chief executive of the Syncplicity file sharing business that EMC sold off. Also, Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz stepped down although he remains Pivotal's executive chairman. VMware promoted Ray O'Farrell to replace Fahti as CTO and Pivotal founder Rob Mee replaced Maritz as CEO.

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