Dell EMC’s hyperconverged appliances now run on its next-generation servers that are specifically designed for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

The company’s HCI portfolio includes two hyperconverged appliance lines: the VxRail series, which are jointly engineered with VMware and use vSAN storage; and the XC series, which support different hypervisors including VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Nutanix. It also makes HCI rack-scale systems.

Per today’s announcement, Dell EMC is moving its hyperconverged appliance portfolio onto new hardware — its latest PowerEdge 14th generation servers. VxRail appliances on the new servers will be generally available on Dec. 12. The XC series are available today.

The company also plans to move its VxRack SDDC (software-defined data center) rack-scale HCI systems onto the new servers next quarter, said Bob Wambach, VP of marketing for Dell EMC’s converged platforms and solutions division.

HCI is the fastest growing segment in the data center space — and vendors including Dell EMC, Nutanix, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and NetApp are all fighting for the top market share. Dell EMC is the No. 1 HCI vendor globally, according to IDC.

Worldwide HCI revenue grew 48.5 percent, year-over-year, in the second quarter of 2017, generating $763.4 million worth of sales.

These systems combine scalable storage and compute functionality into a single, highly virtualized platform. They deliver their main value through software tools, using commodity hardware.

A key reason why HCI is so popular is because it enables enterprises’ IT modernizations efforts including software-defined storage and networking, as well as private and hybrid cloud platforms.

“The hyperconverged market is on fire right now,” Wambach said. “Two years ago we saw forward-looking CIOs asking: ‘which of my applications might be appropriate for hyperconverged?’ Today, a forward-looking CIO is asking: ‘tell me why I can’t put it on HCI? I know that the infrastructure is going to be simpler, and easier to maintain. I can start at a smaller entry price and I can increment in finer-grained chunks of storage, capacity, or compute power.’”

The company’s new servers are based on Intel Xeon Scalable processors. They have higher core counts, faster clock frequency, more memory channels, and faster memory than the earlier version. This results in up to 1.7 times more processing power and up to 62 percent higher internal bandwidth compared to the 13th generation servers, Dell EMC claims.

Built for HCI

For hyperconverged appliance customers, this means better performance and configurability for hosting a range of software applications, Wambach said.

“The 14G has about 150 requirements for HCI that were specifically built into the 14G architecture,” he explained. “Rather than being primarily a compute server, 14G is meant to be both a great compute server and software-defined storage plus compute all in one appliance.”

Some of these built-in requirements for software-defined storage include improved support for solid-state drives (SSDs) in scale-out deployments; faster initialization and streamlined data storage management; increased drive cooling for improved reliability; and common user interfaces across server and HCI platforms for Dell EMC systems management capabilities.

Dell EMC’s cozy relationship with VMware has helped boost its HCI sales, Wambach said. Dell Technologies owns both brands. “VMware has really emerged as the preferred operating environment for most enterprise customers, so partnering very closely with them on VxRail has worked in our favor.”

Since launching VxRail in March 2016, the company claims to have sold more than 14,000 nodes to more than 2,000 customers.

For VxRail customers, the new servers will provide up to two times more IOPS (input/output operations per second) compared to the earlier generation servers, and more than two times faster response times, the company claims. It also includes new software-defined network attached storage (NAS) support for remote office or edge-to-core file deployments.

Meanwhile, XC customers can expect up to 93 percent increased compute capacity for workloads with storage density as a primary need, Dell EMC says. The new hardware also enables expanded use cases in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments for heavy compute needs with up to 50 percent more graphics-processing unit (GPU) power.

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