Dell unveils new Dell EMC Ready solutions to spur AI in VMware environments

The channel will be the primary seller of these new solutions, which leverage the Bitfusion technology VMware acquired last year, and which has now been incorporated into vSphere.

Today, Dell Technologies is announcing two new Dell EMC Ready Solutions based on VMware Cloud Foundation, which are designed to run artificial intelligence [AI] workloads in VMware environments. It makes extensive use of technology acquired with Bitfusion a year ago, which facilitates the sharing of pooled GPUs across the network.

“As machine learning and deep learning become more important, it becomes critical to make the journey easier for the customers’ goal to reduce the amount of work that customers have to do to put their solutions together,” said Ravi Pendekanti, Senior Vice President, Server Solutions Product Management and Marketing at Dell EMC.

Pendekanti emphasized that an enormous market opportunity still exists around AI.

“AI is underutilized,” he said. “There is great opportunity to leverage AI with the right technology. Only 14.6% of firms report widespread production of deployed AI capability. That tells us there is a huge untapped need for providing solutions that our customers can put to use quickly, to get analytics to make decisions that could impact their business requirements.”

Playing on Dell’s ‘Make it Real’ tagline of recent years, Pendekanti said that they want to make sure that AI becomes real by providing three important elements: making sure that AI is available anywhere, providing continuous insights rather than simply pockets of information, and delivering AI at real scale, from laptops to supercomputers.

The secret sauce here is the Bitfusion technology which VMware acquired in August 2019, which enhances the virtualization of hardware accelerated devices by pooling GPUs, decoupling specific physical resources from the servers they are attached to in the environment. It has now been incorporated into VMware vSphere 7 with Bitfusion, which Dell is also announcing today.

“Bitfusion has been a Work in Progress for the last 11 months,” said Paul Turner,  Vice President Product Management vSphere at VMware. “It shares pooled GPUs across the network, networking GPU servers like NAS allows the networking of storage devices.”

Turner emphasized that VMware’s use of this technology to build support for hardware accelerators right into the hypervisors solves multiple AI-related challenges: AI servers that are oversubscribed; AI researchers not having the latest technology because fast advances in technology soon makes their hardware obsolete; underutilization of servers because of collections of servers being dedicated solely for particular research, and clusters with long downtime and idle time.

“This increases your utilization because you don’t have idle resources sitting in pockets,” Turner said. “You have all the benefits of sharing resources – increased efficiency, optimal utilization and everything being managed by the IT organization.”

One of the two new solutions, Dell EMC Ready Solutions for AI: GPU-as-a-Service, provides these benefits by freeing up accelerator access,

“This democratizes GPU by making GPU as-a-service available to any researcher on the network, in a highly efficient way,” Turner said.

The other new AI offering, Dell EMC Ready Solutions for Virtualized HPC, makes it simpler and more economical to use VMware environments for demanding HPC and AI applications in computational chemistry, bioinformatics and computer-aided engineering, by speeding up time from testing to operations.

“This addresses a growing segment around a whole gamut of industries,” Pendekanti said.

“These Dell EMC Ready solutions are documented designs to provide customers with the ability to go back and see where the integration points come across,” Pendekanti emphasized. “They provide a recipe of how things are put together. They take the guesswork out, and help customers through the journey of the deployment as well.

“Starting this summer, we can factory install this [on PowerEdge servers] for customers so they don’t have to do it on site,” Pendekanti added.

Dell expects these packages will be a strong channel play.

“Everything here is absolutely applicable to our channel partners,” Pendekanti said. “We expect some of our partners will add their own IP on top of what we are providing.”

“We expect most of the Go-to-Market for this will be delivered through our channel partners,” Turner stated. “Being pre-tested and qualified will make it easier for them to sell.

The Dell EMC Ready Solutions for AI: GPUaaS and Dell EMC Ready Solutions for Virtualized HPC are available now.