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Dell keeps hyper-converged options open

Still months away from closing its $67 billion acquisition of EMC, Dell today said it would  immediately start reselling several EMC federation converged products and updated others it already sells.

Dell revealed the deals as part of a “doubling-down” on hyper-convergence and a push into selling EMC’s VCE products.  And yes, Dell also moved forward with its Nutanix OEM deal by upgrading its XC Series of hyper-converged products using Nutanix software.

Dell XC Series appliances will now use the latest Intel “Broadwell” processors, which are Xeon E5-2600 v4 chips. The XC Series is also now certified for SAP NetWeaver. Travis Vigil, Dell executive director for product management for Dell storage, said Dell will offer XC Series appliances with Nutanix Acropolis, VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors.

Acropolis competes with the VMware hypervisors that will become part of the Dell family when the EMC deal closes. Nutanix also competes with VMware’s Virtual SAN (VSAN) hyper-converged software. Still, Vigil said Dell will continue with both platforms.

“We are 100 percent committed to our XC Series,” he said. “We have had tremendous success with that product.”

Vigil said Dell has hundreds of XC customers since its Nutanix OEM deal started in 2014.

Dell has added upgraded its VMware VSAN Ready Nodes that compete with Nutanix appliances. Dell Ready Nodes now include an all-flash option using Dell PowerEdge R730xe servers, as well as Broadwell chips and factory-installed VSAN.

Vigil said Dell will continue to sell its current EVO:RAIL hyper-converged systems, but there will be no upgrades because VMware is phasing out its EVO:RAIL OEM program in favor of building more Ready Node partnerships. Dell and VMware will offer a transition program for EVO: RAIL customers who want to move off that platform to other VSAN products.

Dell will also resell VxRail Appliances and VxRack Systems from VCE, EMC’s converged infrastructure division. VxRail is a VSAN-based hyper-converged product that EMC launched  in Februrary. VxRack Node and VxRack System 1000 Flex use EMC’s ScaleIO block-based storage software for hyper-converged infrastructure ranging from hundreds to thousands of nodes. Customers can also run VxRack on PowerEdge servers through the Dell Reference Architecture for EMC Converged Infrastructure.

Dell is also adding VSAN to the Dell Hybrid Cloud Platform for VMware reference architecture program. That reference architecture includes Dell Active System Manager, VMware vCenter, vRealize and VSAN for customers looking to build private and public clouds.

“We’re doubling down on providing the best portfolio for hyper-converged infrastructure,” Vigil said.  “Dell identified hyper-converged infrastructure [as a growth market] early and will hopefully expand on our lead with this announcement.”

Gartner Research distinguished analyst Dave Russell said Dell was covering three bases with its converged platforms. “They have three camps – their EMC-based portfolio, their VMware-based portfolio and their Nutanix-based portfolio,” he said. “This is a case of, ‘If you have a preference, we want to satisfy that preference for you.’”