Dell expands Dell XC Series Nutanix offerings

Scheduled to roll out in Q3, the updates to the portfolio address specific use cases. They are: support for KVM, including Nutanix’s new KVM-based hypervisor; a storage-heavy Lite-Compute node; a new appliance that provides Nvidia GPU support; and a short-depth, 1U form factor appliance.

Travis Vigil Hi Res 300

Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage

At the Nutanix .NEXT user conference in Miami, Dell is announcing its third wave of Nutanix-based offerings since the companies originally partnered up last November. One provides their first support for KVM, including Nutanix’s own Acropolis hypervisor, which is a hardened version of KVM, announced earlier today at the event. Another is a new XC Series Lite-Compute node, designed for environments that want to scale storage without equivalent compute or hypervisor resources. Two new appliances provide Dell’s first support for the Nvidia GPU, and offer the smallest XC appliance to date in a short-depth, 1U form factor that is in particular demand for tactical military deployments.

“We are expanding our Nutanix relationship and our software-defined storage portfolio with this next wave of XC appliances,” said Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage.

The four new offerings are designed for specific applications and use cases, but Vigil said Dell doesn’t consider them niche offerings.

“There are some emerging markets that these address, and some of the configurations have good market potential, especially the XC Series Lite one, which we expect will be very popular,” he said. “All of them expand the addressable market space.”

Dell is announcing its support for the KVM open source hypervisor, in part because it does have a presence in many mixed hypervisor data centres, but also because Nutanix is introducing its own KVM hypervisor at the .NEXT event. Nutanix’s new Acropolis hypervisor is a hardened version of KVM which uses SaltStack open source configuration management to detect any changes from the hypervisor’s normal profile, and lead it to self-heal. Dell is supporting Nutanix’s entire Xtreme Computing Platform, of which the new hypervisor is a part.

‘We already support ESX-i and Hyper-V environments, and we see our ability to support different customer requirements like an open source hypervisor as a good thing for Dell customers because it increases customer choice,” Vigil said. That’s the case, even when, as in this instance, Nutanix’s new hypervisor and related app mobility fabric appears targeted squarely at VMware, which, like Nutanix, also has a strong relationship with Dell.

“We recognize that some of our partners may be competitors,” Vigil said.

Dell’s second new offering, its Nutanix Linux KVM Lite-Compute node, also leverages the new Nutanix technology and Acropolis hypervisor, to run in an XC cluster with ESX-i, Hyper-V or Nutanix KVM.

“The KVM Lite-Compute node expands an XC Series cluster to can provide 32 storage nodes without the costs of compute and hypervisor resources,” Vigil said. It also provides more precise workload-specific sizing and more efficient use of compute and hypervisor resources.

“Some workloads just need a little extra compute and a lot more storage,” Vigil said. “It comes down to application and workload focus. VDI, which can be very storage heavy, is well suited for this. So are server virtualization deployments for databases or Exchange.”

VDI is also a likely use case for the new XC730-16G appliance designed to work with Nvidia graphics processing units.

“This is one of the most requested things for VDI we have had in the last six months,” Vigil said. “The appliance can support one or two Nvidia GRID K1 or K2 GPUs, for better graphics performance for VDI.”

Finally, the other new appliance, the XC430-4, has a short-depth 1U footprint.

“The standard footprint has a depth of 30 inches, and this has 24 inches,” Vigil said. “This is ideal for remote and branch offices. However, we have a very strong federal and government business at Dell and we expect the strongest play to be in the tactical military space, where space is at a premium, and where equipment needs to be mobile, so it can be put in a truck and powered up. It’s an absolute requirement there.”

All four of these offerings are scheduled to be available in Q3. Additional XC Series models are also planned for later this year.