Convergence has been a hot topic in IT for many years. The basic idea is to bring together multiple sets of technologies together in an effort to enable better efficiencies. It's an idea that Dell is strongly embracing with a new Converged Blade Data Center solution announced today.
Dell is bringing together technologies from across its product portfolio, including servers, storage and networking gear and converging them into a single solution.
The Dell Converged Blade Data Center solution includes the new 12th generation Dell PowerEdge blade servers, Dell EqualLogic Blade Arrays and Dell Force10 MXL blade switching in single platform.
Brian Payne, executive director of Server Solutions at Dell, explained to InternetNews.com that the converged platform leverages a Dell PowerEdge M1000e blade chassis as the base.
"We see Blades as a great foundational element for infrastructure convergence," Payne said. "Blades are already addressing by definition, efficiency and use of space, as well as use of power."
Payne added that Dell traditionally has had network and server pieces in the blade array, but it has not had the storage component. On the storage side, Dell can include as many as four storage arrays and up to 56 TB of storage in a blade chassis. The Dell EqualLogic storage arrays can also grow outside of the blade chassis, providing even more scalability if needed.
In total, the solution can fit up to 16 server blades, 4 EqualLogic storage arrays and the Force10, a 40 Gigabit blade switch. Dell acquired Force10 in July of 2011. Payne noted that post-acquisition, the Force10 team has been working together with the server and storage group in a coordinated way to deliver the converged blade solution. The Force10 switch handles traffic to and from the blade chassis as well as traffic inside of the blade chassis.
"The Force10 blade switch is the industry's first to have 40 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks from the chassis," Payne said. "The switch is specifically tailored for the m1000 Blade chassis."
While Dell is now building converged systems, they aren't quite yet moving in the direction of application-specific engineered systems. Oracle is a leading proponent of that idea with its Exalogic, Exalytics and Exadata boxes that are designed for specific application workloads. HP's AppSystem takes a similar approach and IBM has its PureSystems approach.
Dell has something called vStart, which provides out of the box configuration for virtualization. The VIS Creator tool then can enable the build-out of workloads, though it isn't quite the same level of application specificity that rival server vendors are currently promoting.
"Today you start with vStart then roll applications on top, and VIS Creator helps with the creation of those virtual machines," Payne explained." Application convergence is something we are focused on -- we're just not not talking about it today other than that it is on our radar."