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HP introduced at VMworld a new VirtualSystem optimized for the upcoming VMware vSphere 5 designed as a turnkey solution to speed virtualized infrastructure implementation and act as a foundation for private clouds.

VirtualSystem was introduced at HP Discover in July with Microsoft and Citrix versions, and now HP is releasing a VMware-based version of the solution, which includes virtualized HP Networking products, HP LeftHand and 3PAR storage products, HP BladeSystem servers, HP Insight Control for VMware vCenter and on-site installation services.

“We’re introducing the new VirtualSystem for VMware. This is part of an effort that started about two years ago when we introduced the notion of converged infrastructure,” said Tom Joyce, vice president of marketing, strategy and operations for HP StorageWorks.

HP is positioning VirtualSystem against VCE ( vBlock appliances. The message from HP is that VirtualSystem is a fully integrated system with hardware coming from only one vendor, whereas the vBlock has hardware from both Cisco and EMC. HP claims its chosen path is the better one (consider it another shot fired in the ongoing battle between technology giants).

“It’s ultimately upgradeable to cloud, so if you compare it to a VCE vBlock from Cisco and EMC, it’s VMWare only, a collection of technologies from different vendors and not upgradeable to cloud,” Joyce said.

According to VCE, vBlock is indeed ready for private cloud implementations.

VirtualSystem for VMware will ship in three flavours, each with its own target market. VS1 was designed for mid-sized businesses. In one SKU, a customer gets ProLiant servers, LeftHand storage, Insight Control software, and HP Networking technology. It can support up to 750 virtual machines on one system.

VS2 is aimed at larger businesses and is built on BladeSystem. It includes LeftHand storage and Insight Control, as well as HP Networking technology. It can support up to 2,500 virtual machines or virtual desktops.

VS3 is also built on BladeSystem, but it can be extended across multiple racks (the other two SKUs are limited to a single rack). Another big difference is it comes equipped with 3PAR storage, as well as VirtualConnect, TippingPoint and Insight Control software. According to HP, the hardware is identical to that found in CloudSystem, the HP private cloud platform announced earlier this year. If a customer wants to build a private cloud on top of VS3, it can be done by bringing in additional software, Joyce said.

“Virtually all customers that we deal with … are doing virtualization, and it’s gone from being something that was used in certain types of environments to being something that’s used everywhere,” Joyce said.

All three of the models of VirtualSystem are available for the HP’s channel partners to sell, but Joyce noted that VS3 is likely to be more of a service provider play.

“I think that we expect to see a tremendous amount of volume going through our distribution on the VS1. We have folks that specialize in certain kinds of solutions like BladeSystem solutions and VDI solutions that will focus on the VS2,” he said.

Built as a modular system, HP expects channel partners will be able to sell and implement VirtualSystem quickly. Pricing starts at $167,300, which includes HP VirtualSystem for VMware, HP Converged Infrastructure, factory integration and three years of HP Support Plus 24. Customers can either use existing vSphere licenses or purchase pre-installed vSphere 5 licenses from HP.

“We think it’s a pretty unique opportunity for channel partners that are trying to figure out where to make their bets, who should they line up with, to come take another hard look at HP because we’ve got a number of benefits here over some of our direct competition in the space,” Joyce said. “VirtualSystem is a very unique offering that gets them into 3PAR, which is growing like crazy because customers have demand for it.”

For customers that don’t want to go the full VirtualSystem route but want some of the functionality and benefits, HP is bundling server-based products under the HP Virtualization Smart Bundles for SMB name.