Dell EMC Bolsters Converged Infrastructure With VMware Integration

The company is enhancing VxBlock through integration with the latest versions of VMware’s vRealize suite as well as new Cisco and storage options.

Dell VxBlock

Dell EMC officials last fall unveiled enhancements to the company’s converged and hyperconverged infrastructure offerings with deeper integration of VMware technologies. That included Dell EMC’s VxBlock Central software for the vendor’s VxBlock System 1000 converged solution that drives greater awareness, automation and analytics to make management simpler.

VxBlock Central included integration with offerings within VMware’s vRealize lineup, including vRealize Orchestrator for automating tasks and vRealize Operations for detailed analytics, all of which officials said laid the foundation for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and hybrid cloud operations.

Dell EMC this week announced enhancements to the VxBlock 1000 converged infrastructure, including updated VxBlock Central integration with the latest versions of vRealize Orchestrator (7.5) and Operations (7.0) and VMware’s vSphere 6.7 virtualization platform. vRealize Orchestrator and Operations are integrated with vRealize Automation for multivendor and multicloud support.

The company also is upgrading VxBlock 1000 with new storage and data protection options and new server and networking choices from partner Cisco Systems.

Tying the converged infrastructure solution into the VMware vRealize suite was key, Brian Henderson, director of product marketing for converged infrastructure and open networking at Dell EMC, told eWEEK.

“We believe VMware is going to be this operational hub for the cloud, and you’ve started to see some of that messaging slowly come out, and you’ll see us double down on that type of story as we get closer to Dell Tech World [in April] and one of those foundational platforms will be VxBlock,” Henderson said.

Converged infrastructure solutions, which offer appliances that come preintegrated with compute, storage, networking and virtualization technologies, have been around for about a decade, offering businesses an easier way to deploy and manage data center infrastructure. The market for converged and hyperconverged solutions continues to grow quickly, with IDC analysts last year saying the space in the second quarter 2018 increased 9.9 percent year-over-year, to $3.5 billion.

Before EMC was bought by Dell for more than $60 billion in 2016, it had partnered with VMware—which EMC owned—and Cisco to create VCE, a company launched to build converged infrastructure solutions leveraging the companies’ technologies. EMC and VMware are now part of Dell Technologies, but the company still partners with Cisco in its VxBlock offering. The company has installed about 4,500 VxBlock systems in about 100 countries.

VMware’s vSphere has been the virtualization technology for the converged infrastructure since the creation of VCE. In addition, vCenter has been the management solution since the beginning.

Part of the enhancements to the converged infrastructure offering include adding Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) C480 to the lineup of servers offered as well as the latest version of Cisco’s UCS 6454 Fabric Interconnect. Dell EMC also is offering its Unity Hybrid Flash storage (Models 300, 400, 500 and 600) and Data Domain with high availability (Models 6800, 9300 and 9800).

Customers to See Significant Gains

The upgrades to VxBlock 1000 will drive significant gains for customers, according to Dave Hayward, senior marketing consultant for Dell EMC. That includes 66 percent improved IT operations efficiencies over build-it-yourself environments and 99 percent less unplanned downtime. In addition, the simplified lifecycle management capabilities mean that upgrades and patches are done six times faster, from 32 days down to five, Hayward told eWEEK.

“The more we can enhance this, the more the customer can get the precise price/performance they need for whatever workload is in the mix,” he said. “Every time we add new software, every time we add new hardware, we make sure that’s all pre-tested and given to the customer so they can make their upgrade process faster.”

Dell EMC also is enhancing its Ready Stack validated design portfolio to include VMware-based IaaS on PowerEdge MX servers and PowerMax storage and vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V on PowerEdge 14th-generation servers and Unity storage.

Converged infrastructure got a lot of attention when OEMs first rolled out offerings, but it’s been somewhat overshadowed by the rise of hyperconverged infrastructure, which is more software-defined, flexible and scalable and merges compute and storage. However, Henderson said there are two key roles for converged infrastructure, including as a better way to consume traditional storage products by not forcing customers to integrate the components themselves.

“Their IT operations are more efficient, they integrate with VMware better, they have less downtime because we build it, assemble it, test it, integrate it, ship it,” he said, adding that Dell EMC also then maintains compatibility.

Converged infrastructure also can help ease customers’ migration to IaaS environments, Henderson said.

Dell EMC plans to roll out more improvements to VxBlock, he said.

“So in the future, more VMware,” Henderson said. “More integration with the higher-level products. You’ll see new products roll out … and we’re going to double down on that cloud integration strategy. You’ll see some new technologies. We’re watching NVMe very closely, and we think we’re going to have a very solid story around end-to-end NVMe.”