Dell announces next generation of XC series converged appliances with Nutanix software

The new offerings benefit from the thirteenth generation of Dell servers, but also have new configurability and support flexibility options which can bring down the price point significantly.


Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage

Today, Dell is announcing version 2.0 of its Dell XC Series of Web-scale converged appliances, which combine Dell hardware with Nutanix software. The two new models benefit significantly from the performance of Dell’s thirteenth generation PowerEdge servers. However, unlike the products that shipped two months ago, which came in five fixed configurations, these models are highly configurable, with hardware and support options which can tailor the product better to specific use cases, and can also bring down the entry price.

“We are announcing a refresh of our 2U model, and adding a 1U model, with the 1U being a first for both Dell and Nutanix,” said Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage. “Customers can now order a new level of modularity and flexibility as well, including a new support offering.”

The first generation of the XC series came to market two months ago.

“Demand has been in line with our expectations, and the pipeline is exceeding our expectations, because some people have been waiting for the Haswell servers with the XC,” Vigil said. “It is a relatively new market – a slice compared to the more traditional server-networking approach, but it has a much higher growth rate and we are seeing an immense amount of interest. Customers are telling us they want Nutanix technology, but on a Dell server and with a single point of accountability.”

Channel demand for the first generation has also been strong.

“We have seen a 50 per cent channel mix on the 1.0 XC, which is a little bit higher than Dell Storage overall, where the channel share is between 30 and 40 per cent,” Vigil said.

“We had anticipated there would be a big demand from enterprises, and we found that is true, that it has been selling to large institutional customers and Global 500 companies,” Vigil continued. “From a workload perspective, it has been about 50 per cent VDI and the rest a mix of private cloud and virtualization. VDI makes sense for the XC series because you can add more capacity linearly, which makes it very well suited to hyperconverged architecture.”

Most of the XC series has been sold into green field deployments.

“The majority of the demand has been in net-new projects,” Vigil said. “There are instances of more traditional deployments moving to hyperconverged instead, but more often, once an IT organization is built around a certain architecture, it’s easier to add onto that incrementally.”

The largest factor in the upgrades is the 13th generation PowerEdge servers, but it’s not the only one.

“The underlying shift in server technology provides the vast majority of improvements we are seeing, but the configurability and a one year server contract for more flexibility also are significant,” Vigil said.

The first generation of XCs last November came with a total of five pre-configured options

“We now have a mix and match with the new models, as opposed to the five fixed configurations,” Vigil said. “There is a choice between the processors, drive options and DIMMs that we support. The decision in the first generation to go with the five was more about understanding the market, and understanding how Nutanix sells. A major advantage of Dell servers is that they are quite configurable and we soon learned more configurability would be attractive to many customers.”

The brand new model being announced is the Dell XC630, which is the first XC to come in a 1U form factor.

“The XC630 supports more virtual users at half the rack space and at lesser cost compared to the first generation XC720xd,” Vigil said. “It allows for a lower starting configuration cost, but is an extremely good performing system.”

The lower cost comes from being able to adjust both the hardware features and the support package.

“We can bring down the entry price considerably from version 1.0,” Vigil said. Then, the lowest price point for an XC, with three years of support, was about $USD 50,000. Now, the 1U XC630 with fewer drives and one year of support gets the price down to the $USD32,000 ($CDN 38,000) range.

PowerEdge R720xd Rack Server

The 2U Dell XC730xd

The second model announced, the 2U Dell XC730xd, is an update of the XC720xd.

“The XC730xd doubles the density to 16 TB per rack unit, and while that benefits all users, those that are MSPs or in colocation centres would especially value that,” Vigil said. Its pricing is similar to the XC720xd, but with more performance, configurability and options. In Canada, that’s roughly $CDN 54,000, which includes the appliance, Nutanix software and 1-year Dell ProSupport service contract.

Vigil thinks the second generation products will sell better downmarket than the first.

“The early interest was in the upper edge of the midmarket and the enterprise, but with version 2.0 , being able to get down to 30k entry price, with server, software and support, we expect the XC will come down to the lower end of the midmarket, and higher part of the SMB space as well,” he indicated.

Vigil said that Dell’s Canadian reference customer for this launch, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, was what they expect will be a typical customer. The polytechnic will use the XCs to support a large-scale deployment of its Centre for Applied Technologies VDI shared services initiative.

“This is typical of the type of demand were are seeing,” Vigil said. “It is for 5000 full-time students plus staff, and it will mean their IT staff will spend less time on management and more time on strategic projects for the Institute.”

The Dell XC Series, Version 2.0, will be available in Canada on March 3.