Summary of Monday’s Announcements at Dell EMC World 2017

As you might have expected from a conference that was essentially created by combining two huge tech events (Dell World and EMC World), there were a large number of announcements made on the first day of Dell EMC World 2017. To help you manage the influx of so much information, this post will attempt to summarize them for you.

Dell EMC made announcements across the following areas:

  • New PowerEdge Servers
  • New VxRail Hyperconverged Hardware, Software, and Pricing Model
  • Software-Defined Storage
  • New Storage Arrays
  • New Integrated Data Protection Appliance
  • New Open Networking Products
  • New Flexible Consumption Models
  • Dell Technologies Venture Practice Emerges from Stealth

I’ll review each of these in more detail below:

New PowerEdge Servers

Dell EMC announced the 14th-generation PowerEdge server, the 14G. The 14G is designed to be a more scalable and more secure compute platform with easy-to-integrate automation capabilities.

The new server architecture is based on the next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable family of processors, which will enter General Availability this summer.

The 14G uses NVMe-based internal storage, offering greatly increased storage performance and capacity over previous-generation servers. The 14G also comes with native 25GbE ports.

The 14G offers greater security by incorporating some new hardware-based features including:

  • System Lockdown – a feature to prevent configuration changes.
  • SecureBoot – a feature to ensure that the server is using only the expected boot image.
  • Signed Firmware – a capability to help customers ensure that they’re not loading versions of firmware that have been tampered with.
  • System Erase – a feature that quickly and securely erases all data from a server’s non-volatile storage when that server is retired.

Additionally, expanded APIs and a new iDRAC management system allow for simpler management of multiple 14G servers.

The Dell EMC PowerEdge 14G will be generally available once the new Intel Xeon processors are. That it expected to occur sometime during the summer of 2017.

You can read the Dell EMC 14G press release here.

New VxRail Hyperconverged Hardware, Software, and Pricing Model

Dell EMC announced a new upgrade to their VxRail hyperconverged platform, known as VxRail 4.5.

The new VxRail will be based upon the new PowerEdge 14G discussed above, so it will use higher-performing and high-capacity nodes, allowing for greater VM- and workload-density within a cluster.

New VxRail software offers support for VMware vSphere 6.5 and vSAN 6.6. The new software also streamlines the deployment process, greatly reducing the amount of time needed to implement or expand clusters.

Most interesting, however, is the new pricing model being offered by Dell Financial Services (DFS).  Called Cloud Flex for HCI, this pricing model allows customers to purchase an on-premises Dell EMC HCI solution with no up-front cost, and declining payments over time, with no obligation to continue the contract, making the consumption model very similar to that of public cloud.

You can read more about Dell EMC Cloud Flex for HCI here. DFS Cloud Flex is available now.

As VxRail 4.5 is based upon the new 14G server hardware, it will not be generally available until after the 14G is, but is expected to be available in September 2017. Several of the new features will become available to existing VxRail 4.0 customers in June 2017.

You can read the Dell EMC press release on their HCI announcements here.

Software-Defined Storage

Most of the software-defined announcements were related to the new PowerEdge 14G server — namely that the existing software-defined storage (SDS) offerings will be supported on the new hardware as soon as it is available.

The IsilonSD Edge  — the software-only version of Dell EMC’s scale-out NAS platform –updates allow it to be installed on a single 14G server (as opposed to the three physical hosts required by previous versions). The updated IsilonSD Edge also supports VMware vSphere 6.5 and deployments using virtual storage platforms like ScaleIO and VMware vSAN.

The ECS — Dell EMC’s scale-out object storage platform — updates include enhanced data protection and management capabilities. The updated ECS also provides advanced analytics support.

The ECS update also includes the ECS Dedicated Cloud Service. This service uses a dedicated single-tenant offering hosted in a Virtustream data center to allow customers to use ECS in a hybrid cloud model.

Dell EMC also teased some hints about the next ScaleIO release (no confirmed availability date yet) and a new software-defined solution called Project Nautilus. Project Nautilus is designed for storing and analyzing high volumes of streaming Internet of Things (IoT) data. Nautilus uses either Isilon or ECS as its resilient storage tier and is designed to bring customers real-time processing capabilities.

You can read the Dell EMC press release on their SDS announcements here.

New Storage Arrays

Dell EMC announced updates to several different storage platforms. I’ll cover them below.

First up, Dell EMC announced the VMAX 950F, a brand-new all-Flash VMAX array. The 950F offers improved performance over previous generations, with up to 6.7M IOPS for RRH workloads and response times within 350 microseconds for OLTP workloads. It also has a 25% smaller footprint than the previous generation.

The VMAX 950F can be ordered this month and will be generally available in June.

Secondly, Dell EMC announced the next generation of their XtremIO all-Flash platform, the XtremIO X2. The X2 offers up to 80% lower response times, 25% more data reduction, and three times the capacity per X-brick of its predecessor. The X2 X-brick scales from 7TB to 138TB of raw capacity. The X2 is still limited to scaling out to a total of 8 X-bricks.

The XtremIO X2 can be ordered this month and will be generally available sometime this summer.

Third, Dell EMC announced four new all-Flash models of the Unity unified storage platform, the 350F, 450F, 550F, and 650F. The 650F offers up to 500TB of effective storage capacity across 80 drives in a 3RU form factor. The new models allow for a larger filesystem.

The new Unity all-Flash models can be ordered this month and will be generally available in July.

Fourth, Dell EMC announced the SC5020 hybrid storage array. (The SC line is the former Dell Compellent platform.) The SC5020 offers 45% more IOPS, twice the maximum capacity (2PB), and three times the bandwidth of the SC4020, which it is replacing.

The SC5020 can be ordered this month and will be generally available in June.

Last, but by no means least, Dell EMC announced the much-anticipated all-Flash version of their Isilon scale-out NAS platform.  Dell EMC refers to it as an “Infinity architecture”, although, to my knowledge, it is still limited to 144 nodes in a single cluster.

I’ve written about the all-Flash Isilon, formerly known as Project Nitro, before. You can read my write-up here.

The all-Flash Isilon nodes can be ordered this month and will be generally available in June.

You can read the Dell EMC press release on the new array models here.

New Integrated Data Protection Appliance

Dell EMC announced the Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA). The IDPA is a pre-integrated, purpose-built solution that combines protection storage, software, search, and analytics into one appliance that can be used to back up data from a wide variety of platforms and applications. It also offers options for cloud tiering (requires the latest version of the Data Domain Virtual Edition (DDVE 3.1)).

The IDPA is available in four different models (DP5300, DP5800, DP8300, and DP8800), scaling from 34TB to 1PB of usable capacity.

The IDPA can be ordered now and will be generally available in the summer of 2017.

You can read the Dell EMC press release about IDPA here.

New Open Networking Products

In a move one might not have expected from a company known for their storage and their servers, Dell EMC also announced new open networking top-of-rack switch models.

The first model, the S4100-ON, is optimized for a high number of 10GbE or 8/16/32Gb Fibre Channel connections. The switch includes 100GbE uplink ports for inter-rack communication.

The second model, the S5100-ON, is designed as a top-of-rack switch for deployments using a large number of Dell EMC PowerEdge 14G servers (e.g.: VxRail or ScaleIO deployments). The switch has 25GbE ports, plus 100GbE uplink ports like the S4100-ON.

The S4100-ON is expected to begin shipping in Q2 of Dell Technologies’ 2018 fiscal year. The S5100-ON is expected to be available in Q3 of Dell Technologies’ 2018 fiscal year.

You can read the Dell EMC press release on their Open Network offerings here.

New Flexible Consumption Models

In addition to all the product announcements, Dell Technologies announced a company-wide adoption of a cloud-like consumption model offered through Dell Financial Services (DFS). The new “pay for what you use” model reduces customers’ up-front capital expenditure.

The new flexible consumption offerings include:

  • DFS Flex on Demand Available for all Dell EMC storage solutions, this allows customers to pay for only the capacity they’re actually using.
  • DFS Cloud Flex for HCI This offering applies to the VxRail solution described above.
  • PC as a Service (PCaaS) This offering combines hardware, software, and services to provide customers with a predictable cost per seat per month.
  • Dell EMC Complete VDI Solutions These solutions combine infrastructure, software, services, and optional thin clients to allow customers to either build their own virtual desktop solution or purchase a complete pre-configured end-to-end solution. The VDI Solutions are based on VMware Horizon running on VxRail clusters.
  • Dell Technologies Transformational License Agreement (TLA) (Yes, they actually created a TLA (Three-Letter Acronym) called TLA…) The Transformational Licenses Agreement is a single license and maintenance agreement that makes the cost of software spending more predictable. These highly-customizable contracts offer flexibility, allowing customers to swap software titles as their business needs change.

All of these flexible pricing models are available now in select countries.

You can read the Dell EMC press release on flexible consumption models here.

Dell Technologies Venture Practice Emerges from Stealth

Lastly, Dell EMC revealed the existence of its venture practice, a company named Dell Technologies Capital. The company has been acting in stealth for the past few years, investing up to $100 Million annually in promising innovative technologies to help them get developed and get to market.

Dell Technologies Capital focuses on making investments in emerging technology areas that are relevant to the Dell Technologies companies: Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream, and VMware.

You can read the Dell EMC press release on Dell Technologies Capital here.

To Sum Up

Dell Technologies really seems to be taking their message of transforming IT to heart. Personally, I believe that the announcement of new pricing models is the biggest news from today. This will likely be a huge agent of change in IT.

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