New Dell Converged Infrastructure System Focuses on Flexibility

In addition, the company is growing its offerings in the VDI space with a new hyperconverged appliance and expanded VMware support.

converged system

Dell is growing its portfolio of converged infrastructure offerings with a new system that officials say is designed to give businesses the flexibility and simplicity they're looking for in their data centers.

The Dell Validated System for Virtualization, unveiled this week at the VMworld 2016 show, gives customers a range of configuration options to ensure that the systems fit their needs. They can choose whether to put blade or rack servers into their appliances, use software-defined storage (SDS), solid-state drivers or SANs, leverage networking from Dell or Brocade, and choose the Intel processor they want.

For many of these businesses, the key is choice, according to Glenn Keels, executive director of product management for cloud, high-performance computing (HPC) and integrated systems at Dell.

"They want increased flexibility," Keels told eWEEK. "They want to be able to customize their systems. … They want to make sure the capabilities in those converged systems are tuned to their enterprises."

Converged infrastructures offer compute, storage, networking, virtualization and systems management software tightly integrated into a single system. They're designed to offer greater simplicity, ease of use and affordability in data centers that are becoming increasingly complex with the rise of such trends as data analytics, the proliferation of mobile devices, the internet of things (IoT) and the cloud.

In the first quarter, revenue in the converged infrastructure market hit $2.5 billion, an 11 percent increase from the same period in 2015, according to IDC analysts.

"End users within the midmarket and even in the outer edge of the enterprise data center continue to prioritize simplicity in all aspects of the user experience," Kevin Parmenter, senior research analyst or IDC's computing platform unit, said in a statement.

Dell has been offering converged systems for several years through its PowerEdge FX lineup, and more recently has been selling hyperconverged infrastructure products with its XC Series portfolio. Through its upcoming $62 billion acquisition of EMC and its federated companies—including VMware—Dell will be able to rapidly expand what it can deliver in this fast-growing market. The new Validated System for Virtualization, which will be generally available in the fourth quarter and will be focused initially on VMware virtualization products, will add to Dell's offerings.

Dell is scheduled to close the EMC deal Sept. 7.

The flexibility demands from customers extend beyond the technologies inside the system, according to Keels. They also want to be able to scale the infrastructure as needed—in this case, the new offering can support up to 3,000 virtual machines—and have deployment options, including going through a systems integrator or a channel partner.

In addition, Dell officials also announced a customizable, modular hybrid VMware cloud as a proof-of-concept for businesses looking to move into the cloud. The offering combines the Validated System for Virtualization with VMware's vRealize Suite of cloud management software to help automate provisioning across physical and virtual environments, officials said.

The company also is expanding the options with VMware in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) space. As with converged systems, customers are looking for a way to make their virtual desktop environments more simple, secure and affordable, according to Dan O'Farrell, senior director of product marketing for Dell's Cloud Client-Computing group.

"We want to make VDI as easy to plan, deploy and run as possible," O'Farrell told eWEEK.

Among the new offerings is Dell Solutions for VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes, a 2U (3.5-inch) hyperconverged rack appliance that brings greater flexibility to virtual desktops and can be deployed as a reference architecture or a fully configured VMware virtual SAN appliance. Options include using discrete GPUs and a range of storage choices, from a hybrid (a combination of hard- and solid-state disk drives, or SSDs) to an all-flash SSD configuration.

There also is a choice of virtualization technology: VMware's Horizon 7 or Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, which can manage virtual desktops from the cloud.

Dell also is putting support for VMware's Blast Extreme remote display protocol into its Windows Embedded thin clients that run Horizon 7 with Horizon Client 4.0. The move will enable Horizon users to access their virtual desktops through a browser or Horizon client. In addition, Dell is rolling out the latest version of its Precision Appliance for Wyse, which will offer new configurations based on Dell's PowerEdge R730 server and Nvidia's Tesla M60 Grid 2.0 graphics card. The move will enable greater user density of up to 32 users per appliance.