IT services company Computacenter has built the first European implementation of the VBlock virtualised data centre in a box

VBlock is the complete virtualisation infrastructure arising from the Virtual Computing Environment coalition put together by Cisco, EMC and VMware.

The concept behind VBlock is that organisations wishing to virtualise their data centres can opt for a pre-built data centre, rather than trying to integrate the components separately. It comes in three flavours: VBlock 0, VBlock 1 and VBLock 2, according to the EMC storage component that's being used. The Computacenter development is a VBlock 2, being built on EMC's Symmetrix V-Max system.

According to Matthew Yeager, data storage and protection practice leader at Computacenter, the move towards VBlock is in line with the industry trend of outsourcing as much as possible. "There's a definite interest in the data centre in the box concept." He said that one of the key elements would be freeing up IT staff from the more trivial tasks. "There are some very bright people who could be doing more than just installing servers; they're spending their time, deploying stuff rather than using IT as a business enabler," said Yeager.

Yeager said that the new system would enable huge cost savings for organisations. "It's hard to tell how big the savings will be – it depends what analyst you listen to. I'd say that it will be something between 30 percent and 50 percent. Because this hasn't been deployed in the field, yet, we can't give more accurate figures but was we deploy VBlock more, we'll monitor cost savings," said Yeager.

One of the key elements of VBlock is that it gives user organisations a single point of contact in the event of a problem, avoiding the problems thrown up by finger-pointing over which product has caused the problem. "The three companies have cross-trained their support staff to answer problems caused by any of the components," said Yeager.

He said that the VBlock implementation had gone smoother than expected. "I was expecting it take about 10 calendar days, it ended up taking five. To have swung a complete infrastructure in five says is really impressive," added Yeager.

Yeager said that he couldn't comment on the type of companies that would be looking to adopt VBlock first of all, "We're introducing it to potential customers on 21 May and we'll have a better idea then," he added.