Nutanix-powered Dell XC Xpress for VDI highlights flurry of Dell VDI announcements

Dell also announces a new Latitude VDI notebook, upgrading of its ThinOS 8.4 software, and new management software.

Jeff McNaught, Dell Cloud Client-Computing Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer

Dell has made four separate announcements involving different elements of their VDI portfolio. They have introduced a variant of the established Dell EMC XC hyper-converged appliance with Nutanix software, the Dell EMC XC Xpress for VDI. It is considerably cheaper than the XC, and is aimed at smaller, more price sensitive organizations. Another new variant is the Dell Latitude 3480 mobile thin client with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. The ultra-secure Wyse ThinOS 8.4 has expanded protocol support and some security enhancements. Finally, the Wyse management software has been completely redone.

“This is our continuation of refreshing the product line,” said Jeff McNaught, Dell Cloud Client-Computing Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. “We just passed the five-year date of Wyse’s acquisition by Dell, and we are doubling down on our commitment to the channel with new programs and new capabilities.”

The new Dell EMC XC Xpress hyper-converged appliance is the most significant of these announcements for channel partners, McNaught said.

“We’ve had a product in our line, the Dell XC, which has been a major VDI solution for us,” he said. “It has been so well adopted though that we were missing out on a value proposition for the channel.”

The XC, McNaught said, is priced for the mid-market, and is a highly scalable solution.

“The XC is a ‘start small and grow’ solution,” he stated. “It is very scalable to enterprises. The XC Express, on the other hand, is a ‘start small and stay small’ solution. It’s a three-node appliance that can grow to four nodes.”

Who would want a solution that doesn’t scale much? Plenty of folks, McNaught said.

“This is targeted for organizations with between 100 and 400 users, with a real sweet spot between 100 and 150 users,” he said. “The XC Express meets the needs of this core customer group and is 33 per cent less expensive per seat than the XC. It will do the job for $25,000 for customers who couldn’t possibly justify the cost of the full XC.”

This market had simply been beyond the reach of Dell hyper-converged resellers before, McNaught stressed.

“Partners had been shut out of this market because of cost and complexity issues,” he stated. “The XC Express addresses both issues. This brings the power and simplicity of the XC series to an out-of-the-box solution, which is unique in that it can be deployed in about three hours.”

Dell also announced the Dell Latitude 3480 mobile thin client, based on Dell’s Latitude PC line.

“Mobile is still a very small percentage of the thin client space – less than five per cent,” McNaught said. “It is beginning to grow, however around one use case. Organizations are buying a small number of mobile thin clients for travelling or presentations, because they have a write-protected system, so they don’t pick up stuff while abroad. Outside parties can’t add anything to the device.”

The Dell Latitude 3480 has a 14-inch full HD display, Windows IoT Enterprise, an Intel dual core processor with integrated graphics, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and extended battery life. Customers have a choice of virtual desktop brokers, including Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS and VMware Horizon.

“Before, you had to spend more than $1000 for these kind of devices, but this is $799,” McNaught said. “We leverage the Latitude hardware, but replace the software layer and add security. This has the tools available for Latitude though, and customers seem to really like that.”

The Wyse ThinOS 8.4, Dell’s virus-resistant OS, has expanded protocol support and some security enhancements..

“ThinOS in its 17 year history has still not been breached,” McNaught said. “With this release we have added support for VMware Blast Extreme remote connection protocol and Citrix HDX RealTime optimization pack 2.2 for improved unified communications.

“That’s all about delivering really good Skype for Business,” McNaught said.

ThinOS has also added support for HTML5 video redirection to control and optimize the way XenApp and XenDesktop servers deliver HTML5 multimedia web content. Support has also been added for 4K displays.

Security enhancements to ThinOS 8.4 include firmware signature verification by default on firmware upgrades and downgrades, and support for a simplified certificate enrollment protocol to support secure issuance of certificates to trusted network devices.

Finally, Dell drew attention to the new Wyse Management Suite, which was actually released last month.

“It’s a complete rewrite of our management software, which was several years in development,” McNaught said. “It combines the functionality of both older products, but improves workflow and installation. It now installs in five minutes, and it used to take an hour.

The Management Suite comes in two versions. Standard version is free, for up to 10,000 users.

The Pro version, is for more than 10,000 users, which McNaught said is under 20 per cent of their customer base. It costs $20 per seat on a subscription basis, and comes with some additional features.

Dell EMC XC Xpress for VDI is available starting July 20, 2017.

Dell Latitude 3480 mobile thin client is available starting July 19, 2017, with a starting price of U.S. $799.

Wyse ThinOS 8.4 is available now.

Wyse Management Suite is available now. The migration capability from Wyse Device Manager to Wyse Management Suite will be available in the next release.