Dell EMC Unveils Flexible CI Platform


By: Michael Vizard

Dell EMC today moved to make converged infrastructure (CI) more appealing in the data center with the unveiling of a Dell EMC VxBlock System 1000 that enables IT organizations to mix and match compute and storage engines as they see fit.

Aimed at sites running applications in a rack that require access to external storage, the Dell EMC VxBlock System 1000 takes CI to the next level by making it possible to deploy a combination of Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers or Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers alongside four different classes of Dell EMC storage arrays, says Trey Layton, senior vice president of engineering for Dell EMC Converged Infrastructure.

The Dell EMC storage arrays supported include Dell EMC Unity, VMAX, XtremIO, and Isilon series storage arrays. A total of 10 storage arrays can be configured per Dell EMC VxBlock System 1000 in support of up to 800 servers. Previous generations of Dell EMC VxBlock systems were limited to 512 servers accessing one type of storage array. Overall, Dell EMC claims this latest generation of rack-based infrastructure can reduce data center footprints by as much as 60 percent.

The increased flexibility will enable IT organizations to more efficiently run multiple classes of workload on the same system.

“There are a lot of applications that have different performance attributes,” notes Layton

Previously, IT organizations effectively had to dedicate a VxBlock system to a specific class of workloads that shared common attributes.

The arrival of the Dell EMC VxBlock comes on the heels of reorganization of Dell EMC. The products Dell EMC offered via the Converged Platform and Services Division that was based on the VCE Corp. that EMC created in alliance with VMware and Cisco have been split between the Dell EMC server and storage teams. The Dell EMC VxBlock series is now part of Dell Storage, while the company’s hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) appliances are now managed by the Dell server team. That reorganization comes at time when Dell Technologies, the umbrella company that spans Dell EMC and VMware, is considering multiple paths to once again becoming a public company.

In general, adoption of HCI platforms is outpacing any transition being made to CI platforms. Organizations that have invested in rack-based systems tend to continue to have separated compute, storage and networking responsibilities. Layton notes, however, that organizations that embrace HCI platforms soon after also start embracing CI to also consolidate their rack systems.

Competition across both the CI and HCI categories has been nothing short of fierce. Dell EMC cites data from International Data Corp. naming it the leader in total converged systems market that is growing at 10.8 percent annually despite the large number of workloads moving into public clouds. Dell EMC, like every provider of IT infrastructure is faced with the same challenges as a larger percentages of application workloads move into the cloud. The total IT market is still valued annually in the trillions compared to billions being spent on public cloud services. But as growth rates for on-premises IT infrastructure overall remain in the single digit realm, gaining a larger share of higher margin HCI and CI platform sales becomes nothing less than critical.

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