Why Dell May Have Hit Home Run With New VRTX Server

NEWS ANALYSIS: Dell is not positioning VRTX as a mini data center-in-a-box, though that is a good description of its capabilities.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—As the server business becomes more commoditized with every passing iteration, Dell apparently has found a way to separate itself from the pack.
At the same time, it seems to be putting the edge back in PowerEdge.
The Round Rock, Texas-based company at its Enterprise Forum this week introduced a combination server/storage/networking device called the PowerEdge VRTX (as in vertex) that can roll under a table or countertop, plug into a basic 110-volt outlet—and yet do the job of a small data center rack.
Dell is not positioning VRTX as a mini data center-in-a-box, though that is a good description of its capabilities. The company isn't even saying that it should be used anywhere inside a data center, although use cases for that purpose are inevitable. VRTX, which requires no additional cooling system, is designed specifically for small and/or remote offices.

Up to Four Servers, 48TB of Storage

The PowerEdge VRTX holds up to four servers, storage of up to 48TB of data and a network switch in a 5U device. Its uses agent-free Web-based management with a new geographical view of distributed IT assets that can save time and reduce potential for error, Dell Vice President of Servers Forrest Norrod said.
Dell bundles its Chassis Management Controller embedded console into each PowerEdge VRTX, which offers unified control over server, storage and networking components.
If you try to cable two or more VRTXes together, that's fine—you can do that. But they are not designed to be clustered; their storage and compute capabilities cannot be pooled. Each server stands on its own and does its own workloads, Norrod told eWEEK.
It's built on wheels so it can be rolled to where it's needed. Starter units, with two servers and 2TB to 4TB of storage, will cost a little under $10,000.

A New Product Throughout
"VRTX is not a re-packaged data center offering," Norrod wrote in his blog. "That is not what customers are asking for. Customers did not say, 'Give me an overly large collection of parts that is complex, costly, loud and difficult to manage.' Instead, customers told us, 'Give me a compact, integrated solution: Give me two to four servers for virtualization and back-up, give me shared storage for high availability with extensive capacity for growth, include cost-effective I/O, and make sure it has simplified systems management.
"Fit all of that into a compact chassis that fits under a desk or countertop and can go into a rack as well. Make it quiet—really quiet. And affordable," Norrod wrote. "The answer to that request is what we are announcing."
Dell, at a crossroads in its 29-year history as it transitions from its legacy as a PC and server maker for consumers and businesses to an all-around IT products and services provider, has a marching order to come up with creative IT packages. VRTX is the first all-encompassing yet converged system of its kind for the small and remote office.
"One size certainly does not fit all,” Marius Haas, Dell president of Enterprise Solutions, told the company's biannual Enterprise Forum audience at the San Jose Civic Auditorium on June 4. "With what we have unveiled today (including the VRTX), we are demonstrating our differentiated approach for customers of all sizes—from an small office of five people to hyperscale data centers."
VRTX, which has been used by about 200 beta testers, moves to general availability on June 26, Norrod said. Go here for more information.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...