Dell – The Present and Future of Hyperconverged Solutions

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.

Unconventional ideas are a trial for the small-minded. That’s certainly the case in day-to-day circumstances, but it tends to be even more pronounced in business. For example, consider the small group of people who reacted with confusion and derision to Dell’s announcement last October of its plan to purchase EMC. When opinions that the deal was too large, expensive and complex to work failed to gain traction, some industry watchers resorted to unsubstantiated claims that Dell would simply strip out the best parts of EMC and leave its customers bleeding in the aftermath.

What those critics chose to ignore or failed to understand was the notable success of the acquisition process that Dell has evolved since Michael Dell returned to the CEO position in 2007.

Prior to that point, the company preferred to develop solutions and services almost entirely in-house. But Dell’s intention to build the company into an end-to-end solutions provider opened the door to a wide variety of strategic acquisitions, along with significant organic/internal R&D investments and strategic relationships with industry allies, channel partners and innovative startups supported by Dell Ventures.

Acquisitions have been critical to Dell’s long term strategies and goals. But equally important has been its success in retaining talent and blending acquired assets with existing Dell solutions to the betterment of all.

Why hyperconverged? Because customers love it.

I believe those points are worth remembering in regard to new additions Dell just announced to its portfolio of hyperconverged solutions. Remember that hyperconverged systems combine full-featured storage, compute and networking technologies and functions into single solutions or appliances. Virtualization typically plays a major role so end products can range from application- or middleware-optimized appliances to cloud-in-a-box offerings.

Customers love hyperconverged solutions. IDC estimates that the market will grow at a near-60% CAGR through 2019 while conventional server sales mostly stumble along in low single digits. But why is that the case? Primarily because of their overall efficiency, performance and ease of deployment and management; most hyperconverged solutions are built/integrated at the factory, then quickly installed. While nothing would stop a company’s in-house IT staff from building such solutions, the process is complex and requires advanced integration skills.

Converging hyperconverged solutions

What does all this mean in terms of Dell’s hyperconverged announcement? That it offers insights into how the company can move forward successfully and creatively after the EMC deal is complete. Consider the new and refreshed products detailed in Dell’s announcement:

  • An agreement for Dell to resell EMC’s hyperconverged offerings, including the VCE VxRail Appliance Family (jointly engineered with VMware), and VCE VxRack Nodes and VCE VxRack System 1000 FLEX rack scale solutions (for customers to move from physical Storage Area Networks (SANs) to hyperconverged engineered systems)
  • The introduction of new Dell VMware Virtual SAN Ready Nodes based on Dell’s PowerEdge servers (for customers building their own VMware-based hyperconverged solutions)
  • Refreshing Dell’s Nutanix-powered XC Series systems with Intel’s new Xeon E5-2600 v4 Broadwell family processors. The XC Series also now has certified integration with SAP NetWeaver on Linux
  • Adding VMware Virtual SAN support to Dell’s Hybrid Cloud Platform with VMware solutions, resulting in full-featured and highly optimized private and hybrid cloud platform with end-to-end automation capabilities

In other words, Dell has proactively found creative ways to work closely with EMC and leverage singular EMC assets like VCE while further enhancing the variety of its own hyperconverged solution portfolio.

Final analysis

Press releases are mere paper and business strategies are anything but written in stone, but both can provide insights into a company’s strategic intentions and ambitions. This new announcement finds Dell willing and able to play the long game when it comes to both its hyperconverged portfolio and strategic acquisitions. This flies in the face of simplistic criticism and it’s also fully in line with the organization that Michael Dell has been building since 2007.

In the press release, Dell calls itself, “the industry’s only single source for the broadest portfolio of the most trusted hyperconverged infrastructure solutions.” That may be more than a little hyperbolic, but it’s worth considering in light of the fact that after the EMC acquisition is completed, the company’s efforts to integrate and leverage these technologies will continue and deepen.

Though this announcement brings together a strong portfolio of hyperconverged systems and capabilities aimed at a fast growing market, some will dispute Dell’s portrayal of its hyperconverged portfolio’s breadth and depth. Over time, that argument is likely to become more and more difficult to make, let alone win.

© 2016 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.