Dell continues VDI appliance push with VMware EVO:RAIL Horizon Edition appliance

Dell becomes the first vendor to offer a hyper-converged end-to-end VDI appliance for EVO:RAIL, which becomes its fifth different VDI appliance in five months, as the company intensifies its emphasis on the space

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Dan O’Farrell, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Dell Cloud Client-Computing

Dell has announced the general availability of Dell Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:RAIL Horizon Edition, a VDI solution, which it announced as forthcoming last year. They also announced updates to the Dell Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:RAIL appliance, which has broader applicability.

“What we have done is announce five different appliance platforms for VDI in the last five months – the Dell XC-Series powered by Nutanix, this EVO:RAIL solution, the Dell Precision Appliance for Wyse for the high end, and SMB appliances using both our own vWorkspace and for Citrix,” said Dan O’Farrell, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Dell Cloud Client-Computing. “Each one enforces our desire to allow organizations broadly to benefit from VDI. It’s no longer just for giant companies.”

VMware Horizon edition is the VMware platform specifically designed for virtual desktops, and Dell is touting that it is the first OEM to put together an appliance package specifically designed to support it. It’s a key part of Dell’s VDI portfolio, O’Farrell said.

“It’s extremely significant and very important because of VMware’s position in the market,” he said. “We’ve been working closely with them for many years, with Wyse before Wyse was acquired by Dell, and we have been offering reference architectures. Now, we are folding that technology into a rackmountable form factor.”

O’Farrell noted the apparent irony of a VDI appliance, which seems like an oxymoron because VDI was designed to reduce hardware costs, but offering VDI through a simple appliance overcomes the barriers which have slowed its adoption.

“VDI has been costly, and hard to plan out,” he said. “With an appliance, everything is prescribed so you can build out VDI environments where you don’t have to guess. You get 400 users in a cluster of four nodes, and with 2 of these you get close to 1000 users. It is architected to scale beyond that, but this is the capacity of the current offering. You will be able to go beyond that in the future.”

The VMware-certified appliance is composed of Dell R730 server hardware, Windows Server 2012R2, the VMware ESXi hypervisor, and the Horizon View broker.

“You connect your endpoints to this, and we have sharply reduced the number of steps there,” O’Farrell said. “You still need to know VDI to set it all up, but the concept of time to value decreases by about 90 per cent. It’s no longer a multi-week project to get it up and running. You can do the whole thing in a day.”

The Dell Wyse PCoIP zero clients and all-in-one thin clients aren’t a part of the offering, but O’Farrell said that Dell will create a soft bundles including these so it looks to the end user like it’s all part of the same SKU, even though it isn’t.

“We make it easy not just to plan, install and implement, but also to buy,” he said.

Dell also announced Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:RAIL Infrastructure Edition 1.2, VMware’s broader enterprise EVO:RAIL platform that extends beyond VDI. This is the first infrastructure update since the Dell EVO:RAIL solution was announced.

“These enhancements are all about simplicity and scale,” O’Farrell said. “As these back end systems continue to evolve, the emphasis is to enable organizations to migrate to this model as simply as possible. The types of features we see and will see going forward will enable this to be aimed more at mass users as opposed to the most sophisticated users.

The 1.2 enhancements fall into three categories: improved linear scale-out capabilities; automated serviceability; and reduced licensing costs.

Scale-out is made easier by reducing the number of steps to bring on more servers from 329 to 17, making it much simpler to add new appliances as business needs increase. The update also increases the maximum scalability of a single cluster from four appliances to eight, with each appliance designed for approximately 100 VMs. With each appliance containing four server nodes, the new maximum cluster size is increased from 16 to 32 nodes, supporting approximately 800 VMs.

The automating of serviceability in 1.2 reduces management tasks and maintenance. In the event of a failed drive, a customer can now replace it with a simple click of a button which automates backend tasks to add the host back to the cluster.

Finally, licensing costs are reduced through the adoption of the VMware EVO:RAIL vSphere Loyalty Program. It lets eligible customers apply existing VMware licenses to the purchase of Dell Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:RAIL.

Dell Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:RAIL Horizon Edition and Dell Engineered Solutions for VMware Infrastructure Edition 1.2 are both available now.