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Hyper-convergence integrates compute, networking, storage and virtualization resources inside appliances called nodes that easily link up for scalability purposes. For the past 10 quarters in a row, Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure products have led the market, according to analyst firm IDC.
IDC's most recent Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker also found the converged infrastructure market growing by 3.5% year over year to $3.75 billion for the third quarter of 2019. Its research also revealed hyper-converged systems to be the fastest-growing type of converged system, estimating its value would hit $10.4 billion by 2022.
Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure products come in several flavors. These include VxRail and XC Series appliances and VxRack System Flex, as well as vSAN, VxFlex and Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes products.
The XC Series of hyper-converged appliances preintegrates Dell EMC 14th-generation x86 PowerEdge servers with Nutanix's Enterprise Cloud hyper-converged infrastructure storage and virtualization software stack and Acropolis OS through an OEM deal between the two vendors. Now on its third generation, the XC Series appliance comes in 1U single node, 2U (with up to four nodes) and 3U single node form factors. Dell EMC will also configure XC Series appliances to order to support specific use cases.
XC Core appliances use the same PowerEdge hardware as the XC Series but provide users another way to license Nutanix hyper-converged software. Rather than coming preintegrated, organizations separately purchase the hyper-converged infrastructure software -- which is supported directly by Nutanix -- and install it on Dell EMC's prevalidated XC Core systems themselves. Users can also update the hardware and software independently of one another. XC Core is available in 1U and 2U single node chassis.
VxFlex OS for appliances or racks is Dell EMC's scale-out block storage service for creating virtual SANs or hyper-converged infrastructures on x86 PowerEdge server hardware. VxFlex is available for preconfigured and validated turnkey appliances (see Ready Nodes below) or in an integrated rack-scale hyper-converged system called VxRack Flex. The OS supports multiple hypervisors and bare-metal deployments.
VxFlex Integrated Rack is a rack-scale system composed of PowerEdge servers that includes up to 24 hyper-converged nodes per rack and is designed for use in heterogeneous environments with petabyte-scale implementations in mind. It uses the VxFlex OS (rebranded from ScaleIO) software-defined block storage, integrates configured and optimized networking through Dell or Cisco Nexus switches, and offers linear scalability. VxFlex Integrated Rack supports VMware vSphere, KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors (bare metal is also an option) and offers factory-integrated Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection for Converged Infrastructure as an option.
Ready Nodes are purpose-built PowerEdge server products that have been tested, validated and certified for specific hyper-convergence software that customers can install themselves to build out a hyper-converged infrastructure. The point is to reduce project risk, improve storage efficiency, simplify management and quicken scaling. Dell EMC offers Ready Nodes for vSAN (subsidiary VMware's hyper-converged and software-defined storage software), VxFlex and Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct software-defined storage technology. Microsoft introduced Storage Spaces Direct with Windows Server 2016, adding support for it to Windows Admin Center to simplify management with Windows Server 2019.
VxRail is a preconfigured, pretested and fully integrated turnkey rack-scale hyper-converged infrastructure appliance. It is built on Dell EMC PowerEdge servers running VMware's vSphere hypervisor and vSAN storage virtualization software. The five versions of VxRail are the G Series for mass-market and virtual desktop infrastructure use cases; E Series for remote office/branch offices; V Series for VDI and high-end use cases; P Series for databases and business-critical heavy workloads; and S Series for collaboration, data and analytics. Manage VxRail VMs through vCenter Server, and integrate them into an IT infrastructure using vRealize Operations and vRealize Automation. Secure VxRail using Advanced Encryption Standard-256 cipher encryption at the vSAN cluster level and two-factor authentication (Common Access Card and SecurID). It also comes with agentless backup and recovery, replication and deduplication through vSphere Data Protection and RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines for disaster recovery and business continuity.
VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail integrates software into the hyper-converged infrastructure appliance for creating or migrating an IT infrastructure to a hybrid private cloud. It does this by tightly integrating compute, storage and network provisioning across locations. VMware Cloud Foundation automates lifecycle management through SDDC (software-defined data center) Manager. It also consists of vSphere for compute, vSAN for storage (via VxRail) and NSX for networking (called NSX-T for vSphere). Virtual Cloud Foundation bundles vRealize Suite for automation, operations management and analysis.