Dell EMC positions new VxRail appliances more towards the enterprise

While VxRail was originally aimed more at the mid-market, unexpected orders for large numbers of nodes from enterprise customers has led Dell EMC to add more enterprise features to the new 4.5 release of the appliances.

Chad Sakac, Dell EMC President, Converged Platforms and Solutions, and CMO Jeremy Burton onstage with the new VxRail appliances

LAS VEGAS – This week at Dell EMC World here, the company made several announcements to their hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) portfolio. Chief among these were the Dell EMC VxRail Appliances 4.5, which expand enterprise software and hardware options and which plug into new enterprise features on the Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation servers.

While the modular nature of the VxRail was always designed to give it more flexibility and upmarket potential, compared with the single SKU VSPEX Blue it replaced in then-EMC’s lineup, VxRail was initially positioned primarily in the mid-market. That’s changing, however, with 4.5, which has been designed to react to enterprise demand that had not originally been anticipated.

While the new VxRail’s $USD 25,000 price range for a three-node cluster still makes it suitable for the mid-market and even SMBs, as well as remote deployments, it is capable of moving beyond this.

“The new  VxRail is powerful enough to be the foundation for hybrid cloud solutions,” said David Goulden, Dell EMC’s President.

“Hyper-converged is hot, with the market growing at over 100 per cent  year over year,” said Colin Gallagher Senior Director VxRail Product Marketing at Dell EMC. “Between two-thirds and three-quarters of customers are looking to deploy hyper-converged over the next two years. When we launched VxRail last year we were caught by surprise. The demand exceeded our projections threefold, and last year VxRail grew at 2x the market rate.”

Chad Sakac, Dell EMC’s President of Converged Platforms and Solutions, emphasized VxRail’s success after flying down from the rafters as Captain Canada in his Wednesday keynote.

“VxRail has been a huge, huge hit,” Sakac said. “In a span of 10 months, we have thousands of customers, more than a $400 million run rate, and a 208 per cent growth rate

Gallagher said that VxRail benefited from the lessons learned from the failure of EMC’s initial foray into hyper-converged with VSPEX Blue the year before.

“The problem with VSPEX Blue was that we gave it to you in any size you wanted – as long as it was black,” he said. “It was a single SKU, ‘one size fits all’ model. It was also channel only, with direct sales not being incented to sell it. The lesson we learned there is that when we launch a new product, we need direct to prime the pump, and also to be able to transfer knowledge to the channel. We had some good partners who could figure things out, but not enough of them.

“VxRail has been successful because of those lessons learned,” Gallagher continued. “It is incredibly configurable –almost build to order. We have a joint development agreement and revenue sharing with VMware. And being both channel and direct is important because even though the majority of sales are channel, direct helps to sell it.”

The other big lesson Gallagher said Dell EMC has learned is that they misjudged its market.

“We thought it would be mainly a mid-range product, but something happened last year,” he said. “The market became bimodal. In Q4 last year, we started to see enterprise customers buying 20, 40, 60, 80 nodes. We had one deal that was 90 nodes.”

Their reaction was to build in additional capabilities in the new release to address enterprise issues.

“We are really focused on enterprise deployment with this,” he said. “With these large orders, we couldn’t put a GUI on every single node, so now you can do lifecycle management through a Command Line Interface.

“Even the new hardware options were all driven by enterprise customer requirements. A lot of these customers want physical segmentation, so they needed more physical ports, which we have added.” Up to 12 additional ports are now available.

“There is also a new set of single processor options, with some of the most powerful options now featuring single socket application,” Gallagher stated. “Because of the way licensing works, having more powerful processers, but fewer of them, reduces licensing costs.”

In addition, VxRail deployment experience can now be applied to larger cluster sizes, allowing customers to add and manage ten or more appliances as easily as a single appliance.

“It also works better now with other Dell EMC technologies,” Gallagher said. Customers deploying VxRail Appliances now can leverage a centralized Dell EMC Secure Remote Services gateway to provide a single point of secure, two-way remote support for their entire infrastructure.

New VMware vSphere 6.5 and VMware vSAN 6.6 support also adds optimized data service algorithms to accelerate flash performance, software-defined data-at-rest encryption to protect against unwanted access to data, and enhanced protection for stretched clusters.

The new Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation server portfolio will serve as the modern compute foundation across the Dell EMC HCI portfolio. Dell EMC will begin incorporating these enterprise-class PowerEdge 14th generation server capabilities into its HCI portfolio in the coming months.

Dell EMC VxRail Appliances 4.5 are scheduled for global availability in September 2017, with several features available to existing VxRail Appliances 4.0 customers in June 2017.