Dell EMC Brings PowerEdge Servers to VxRail, VxRack

Wednesday Oct 19th 2016 by Jeffrey Burt
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Combining the servers with the hyperconverged infrastructure offerings from EMC enables the company to offer more configurations and drive down costs.

AUSTIN, Texas—During the 11 months between the time Dell executives announced that the company was buying data storage vendor EMC for more than $60 billion and when the deal closed in September, the two tech vendors had to operate as independent companies.

However, officials with both spent those months laying the groundwork for how they would bring together their respective product portfolios. The results of all that planning is on display here this week at the Dell EMC World 2016 show, with executives unveiling new and enhanced products that merge offerings from both vendors only six weeks after the deal closed.

All that was most evident in the IT infrastructure business, particularly around hyperconverged solutions and storage offerings, and in security. CEO Michael Dell and other executives stressed that this is no longer an issue of two vendors coming together.

"We are already operating as one company," he said during his keynote address Oct. 19.

It's an effort that was helped by the largely complementary nature of the product lineups from both companies, and the flexibility and agility that comes from being a private company, officials said. Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners took Dell private in 2013 in a $25 billion deal.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst with The Enderle Group, said the amount of planning work that Dell and EMC officials did during those 10 months was unusual and enabled them to roll out these products so quickly after the deal closed. In most instances, companies involved in acquisitions tend to wait until the deal is completed before doing much of the planning work around products. The Dell-EMC deal was different, Enderle told eWEEK.

"I've never seen it done before with a merger of any size, much less a merger of this size," he said. "The scope of this is unprecedented."

Highlighting this was the work Dell EMC has done around its hyperconverged infrastructure offerings. The company is integrating the Dell PowerEdge servers into the VxRail and VxRack hyperconverged systems inherited from VMware from the EMC deal. Hyperconverged systems offer compute, storage, networking, virtualization and management software resources in a tightly integrated appliance that is easy to deploy and manage.

Before the merger, the VxRail and VxRack systems used servers from original design manufacturer Quanta, according to Bob Wambach, vice president of product marketing for Dell EMC's Converged Plaform and Solutions Division. The company will continue offering appliances with Quanta systems for those customers that may still want them, Wambach told eWEEK.

However, with the PowerEdge systems, the company can offer a broader range of VxRail configurations, address more workloads and bring hyperconverged solutions to smaller customers, he said. These new configurations are powered by Intel's Xeon "Broadwell" chips as well as VMware's vSphere and VSAN technologies, delivering 40 percent more CPU performance for the same price and all-flash nodes that offer twice the storage of previous versions. For storage-intensive workloads like data analytics and Microsoft Exchange, customers can use VxRail appliances based on the PowerEdge R730xd servers. Workloads that need graphics support can use configurations with the PowerEdge R730 systems that include GPU accelerators from Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.

In addition, Dell EMC is now offering an entry-level three-node model in a 3U (5.25-inch) form factor that can support up to 200 virtual machines and comes in at less than $45,000. It's aimed at smaller companies and remote or branch offices.

The larger VxRack System 1000 is based on PowerEdge R630 or R730xd systems that bring greater capacity and 40 percent more CPU performance without costing more money. Dell EMC is offering 20 new configurations, including all-flash offerings, officials said.

Along with the VxRail and VxRack appliances, Dell EMC will continue to grow the XC hyperconverged infrastructure offerings that Dell launched in 2011 and uses Nutanix's software.

The analyst Enderle said Dell EMC owning all the elements of hyperconverged infrastructures is a differentiator for the vendor in a rapidly growing and highly competitive market, though the key for Dell will be how it executes on its plan. Hyperconverged appliances are complex, so getting it right will be important.

"This is a huge opportunity and that brings with it a huge amount of risk," Enderle said.

On the storage side, Dell EMC is enhancing the Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) platform gained from EMC with support for PowerEdge servers. ECS software can now run on such systems as the DSS 7000 and R730xd, officials said. In another move, the company announced a new all-flash Isilion network-attached storage (NAS) offering.

Dell EMC also rolled out the latest version of the virtual edition of EMC's Data Domain data protection and backup technology that can run on PowerEdge servers. Michael Dell in a meeting with analysts and journalists cited the new offering as another example of being able to combine technologies from both companies to benefit customers.

Data Domain is the top product in its area, with 61 percent market share, but it was too expensive for smaller companies to buy. Now that it can run in a virtual mode on Dell servers, it becomes available at the entry level, he said.

Originally published on eWeek.
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