Dell Moves Deeper Into a New Sector Acronym: HCI Systems

Hyperconverged is where the industry is at right now. This means more functionality in smaller and denser equipment boxes and better control of production.

Dell's acquisition of EMC, announced last October, is far from completed, but the two IT giants are swiftly moving ahead in product development as if they are already one company.

For example, Dell unloaded a ton of product news April 5 involving both companies. In one day, the tech giant announced:

--a new hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) data center lineup, including updated Nutanix-powered systems;

--new virtual storage area network (SAN) nodes running on VMware and PowerEdge servers;

--new virtual SAN support for the Dell Hybrid Cloud Platform on VMware;

--that it will resell EMC hyperconverged offerings, such as VCE VxRail Appliances and other VCE systems; and

--a new Dell Reference Architecture for EMC Converged Infrastructure for users deploying a VxRack architecture using Dell PowerEdge servers.

VCE (for Virtual Computing Enviroment) is a spinoff company, owned mostly by EMC and founded by EMC, Cisco Systems and VMware in 2009.

Back to the Future for Dell, EMC

The Dell-reselling-EMC-hardware item is a case of Dell going back to the future. Thirteen years ago, the company struck up a deal to resell EMC's storage hardware and software alongside its PowerEdge servers to compete directly with IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu and other server makers of the time.

When Michael Dell returned as CEO after a four-year leave of absence and bought two storage companies (EqualLogic in 2008 and Compellent in 2011), its 10-year reselling deal with EMC fell apart acrimoniously because they started competing for the same buyers. Now everybody's on the same team—or about to be on the same team. The $67 billion merger, the largest in tech business history, is expected to be concluded this summer.

Hyper-converged is where the industry is at right now. This means more functionality in smaller and denser equipment boxes; closer proximity for data in respect to servers, networking and storage; and more cohesive monitoring of all these functions in a single platform.

In fact, now-trendy HCI will become a standard acronym in due time, Executive Director of Product Management for Dell Storage Travis Vigil told eWEEK.

HCI is a fast-emerging IT sector. Hyperconverged infrastructures, which combine full-featured storage, compute and networking functions into a single solution or appliance—typically for virtualized environments—continue to gain market share as organizations seek faster time-to-value and more efficient operations.

HCI Looking at $4 Billion Market in Two Years

Researcher IDC recently reported that the worldwide hyperconverged systems market is expected to see a nearly 60 percent compound annual growth rate thru 2019, reaching more than $3.9 billion in sales.

"You've also got to consider HCIA, when you're talking about the appliance form factor and consumption model," Vigil said. "We see three kinds of [HCI] consumption models: one would be a software layer on commodity, industry-standard servers, sort of the do-it-yourself approach; two would be the appliance approach, which would include modular scaling, simple to manage, increased automation.

"Number three would be an engineered solution, which features tighter integration up through higher levels of the (software) stack, with increased automation but with a little less flexibility than the DIY or appliance models."

Dell is making all three of these available as of April 5.

Here is more detail on the Dell news:

--VCE VxRail Appliance: These are the only hyperconverged infrastructure appliances jointly engineered with VMware and are fully integrated, preconfigured and pre-tested for VMware environments. They combine EMC rich data services and systems management with VMware's hyperconverged software in a single product line. VCE VxRail Appliances are available in a set of configurations for small to midsize deployments, starting with a list price of $60,000 and scaling to match a variety of workloads with a range of configurations, including all-flash options.

--VCE VxRack Node and VxRack System 1000 FLEX: VCE VxRack Systems represent a transformational way for customers to move from physical storage area networks to hyper-converged engineered systems with the ability to scale up to thousands of nodes with multiple hypervisor support.

--Dell VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes: These building blocks are ready-to-order, validated configurations that can be factory integrated with Dell PowerEdge servers and VMware hyper-converged software. A wide range of configurations meet the demands of diverse workloads.

--Dell XC Series of Hyperconverged Appliances: Dell XC Series appliances are now the industry's first Nutanix-powered hyperconverged infrastructure solutions to incorporate the latest Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 v4 Broadwell processors. This provides faster performance to the portfolio of fully configurable 1U and 2U appliances, helping speed customer access to data and applications in deployments for use cases, ranging from VDI to private cloud. The XC Series also now is certified for SAP NetWeaver, extending the appliances' use cases to support the SAP solution stack.

--Dell Hybrid Cloud Platform for VMware With Virtual SAN: This reference architecture integrates the best of Dell and VMware technology. Dell Active System Manager's integration with VMware vCenter, vRealize and Virtual SAN creates a highly optimized private and hybrid cloud platform with end-to-end automation capabilities from private to public cloud.


VCE VxRail, VCE VxRack Node, Dell VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes (customer build) and the latest Dell XC Series appliances are available globally starting April 5 from Dell and Dell PartnerDirect channel partners.

Dell Reference Architecture for EMC Converged Infrastructure, VMware Virtual SAN support with Dell Hybrid Cloud Platform for VMware and Dell VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes (factory installed) have planned global availability in the second quarter of 2016.

The VCE VxRack System 1000 FLEX is available April 5 direct from Dell in the United States. Global and channel availability are planned for the second quarter of 2016.

For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...