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Dell EMC World 2017 – Industry Snapshot

Published May 15th, 2017. An Industry Snapshot report on the announcements from Dell EMC World 2017. Download the free report now!

Dell EMC World 2017

Digital Transformation was the buzzword for Dell EMC World 2017, referring to how companies need to embrace the use of modernized data center technologies and the automation of IT processes as the way forward –  even as the way to attract and retain employees. They showed some impressive videos of how companies like Boeing and Nike could and do use virtual and augmented reality technology, analytics and the cloud (with Dell EMC infrastructure) in every aspect of their businesses. Examples like this aren’t unique, most tech companies show similar capabilities at their shows. But the point Michael Dell and the other presenters sought to make was that Dell EMC offers a comprehensive product and technology lineup, from servers and storage, hardware and software, on-premises and in the cloud, using Pivotal and running on VMware (also owned by Dell EMC).

Cloud Strategy

Another recurring theme was “cloud isn’t a place,” but an operating model, with multiple infrastructure options from Dell EMC tailored to the application. For general purpose workloads, Enterprise Hybrid Cloud software provides an on-site cloud platform that runs on Dell EMC converged and hyperconverged infrastructures and connects to the public cloud. For mission critical workloads, Virtustream provides an enterprise-grade public cloud offering. And for cloud-native applications, there’s the Native Hybrid Cloud platform and Pivotal Cloud Foundry, connected to the public cloud.

Most of the product announcements were basic upgrades, not new models or functionality. But there were some exceptions.

PowerEdge 14G

Dell EMC introduced the 14th generation of their PowerEdge server line, utilizing Intel’s Xeon Scalable family of CPUs, known as “Skylake”. The 14G as it was referred to, will have 19x more NVMe capacity than the previous generation, support for three GPUs (up from two), one-click BIOS tuning, some new security features and a new virtualized system management console called OpenManage Enterprise. It also has a new bezel that improves the coolness factor, literally. The 14G will be GA mid-year, when Intel releases Skylake.

HCI and SDS Offerings

The VxRail lineup will be deployed on the new 14G server, adding those hardware enhancements, along with single-CPU versions of each product series to reduce CPU core-based software licensing costs. The company also announced a $25,000 list price for a three-node cluster and a new 1U, entry-level model for the XC series (with Nutanix software), the 430 Xpress.

Dell EMC rolled out a new financing program that lets customers get a VxRail cluster for no money upfront.  “CloudFlex”, is not a pure consumption-based pricing model, but more like a lease, where companies are charged a fixed monthly cost for a minimum of a year, and can then return the system after that if desired.  CloudFlex is not exclusive to VxRail, available across the Dell EMC product lines.

ScaleIO announced a new generation called ScaleIO.NEXT with in-line compression and advanced snapshot capabilities. They also have more granular thin provisioning (4KB chunks), support for VVOLs and volume migration that doesn’t involve the host. This release is expected in Q417.

XtremIO and VMAX

XtremIO X2  a new hardware design featuring a 5U, 72-device enclosure (18-device min) with top-load SSDs in two models, the R model with 3.84TB SSDs (Q417 GA) and S model with 400GB SSDs. R and S models cannot be intermixed and upgrades from earlier generations are disruptive. Dell EMC claims X2 has an 80% improvement in response time.

VMAX 950F replaces the 450F and 850F models to incorporate Broadwell processors and upgraded memory. The claim is that the 950F does 6.7M IOPs with 350 microsecond response time. The max capacity is 4PB with 7.68TB and 15.36TB SSDs supported.  New software  non-disruptive migration with SRDF/s and Recovery Point for VMAX AF.  They also announced a new Secure Snapshot with its use case for malware protection.  They noted 80% of the VMAX sales were all flash.

Unity

New Unity all-flash models were announced, with the Broadwell servers and increased. The all flash is now an 80-device, 3U enclosure, 256 TB file system support with integrated copy data management (ICDM) feature using AppSync.  In the second half of 2017, MetroSync (stretched clusters) will be available.  New to Unity is CloudIQ, web based diagnostics tool developed CloudIQ.  We expect this to be enhanced and expanded across their product lines in a drive to create more autonomous storage.

Isilon

Isilon had significant software and hardware changes.  Notably there are now three model types: H series (Hybrid), A series (Archive), and F series (Flash).  These will replace the earlier X, S, NL, and HD series over time.  The new models will all interoperate in a cluster, with the official cluster size still 144 nodes, but the 400-node support announced earlier with project Nitro will be fully supported in the second half of 2017.

The new hardware package has 4 nodes in 4U with devices for all models. The aggregate throughput is 15 GB/s via InfiniBand or 40GigE, with two ports per node using Arista switches. Nodes have Broadwell processors in a single socket rather than the earlier two-socket design. The F800 all-flash model supports 15.36TB SSDs and scales to 33PB.

IDPA and SC

The Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) is essentially a rack package of existing products; Data Domain (three capacities with the smallest at 34TB0, Avamar and Dell EMC servers.

A new model of the SC line (Compellent) was released, the 3U, 30-device SC5020 with a max capacity of 2PB, that replaces the SC4020. They have also added new software bundles, eliminating software cost additions as capacity is increased.

Containers and Storage

Dell EMC is also active in the open source community with a group called {Code} by Dell EMC. One of their projects, REXRay, is a container storage orchestration engine that provides high availability and security features and works with Docker or Docker Swarm, Apache Mesos, Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry. REXRay is supported on Dell EMC Isilon, ScaleIO and ECS, Red Hat Ceph plus most public cloud providers.

Evaluator Group Comments

Overall, there was new technology and new products unveiled at this show, but the majority of announcements were for updates based on new generations of processors and storage devices. Like most companies, Dell EMC won’t abandon products that are still producing revenue, but their emphasis on scale-out, software defined storage, HCI and Converged Infrastructures shows clearly that this is the way forward.

The company has consolidating marketing in four areas that cover the different product categories, rather than individual product campaigns, these are: All-Flash Storage, Servers, Data Protection and Converged / Hyperconverged.

The future of storage is in server-based architectures, a fact that drove the merger of Dell and EMC last year. Dell EMC is also tied to the cloud, and the company is committed it being part of their future as well. From Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, Native Hybrid Cloud, Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Virtustream, Dell EMC is positioning to provide multiple options for how a company incorporates the cloud into their environment.

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