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Dell XC hyper-converged systems launch, based on Nutanix IP

The XC platform gained from a Nutanix OEM deal gives Dell its second hyper-converged product line, along with VMware EVO: RAIL-based systems.

Dell today launched its XC Web-scale Converged appliance series based on its OEM agreement with hyper-converged system vendor Nutanix.

The Dell XC platform was one of several storage rollouts delivered at the Dell World 2014 conference in Austin, Texas. The vendor announced the Nutanix OEM relationship last June but did not reveal system configurations and specifications until today.

The hyper-converged appliances will begin shipping Nov. 11 with VMware ESXi and Microsoft Windows Hyper-V support. Red Hat KVM will be supported in the first half of 2015.

The Dell XC systems bundle the Nutanix Distributed File System on Dell hardware. There are five initial configurations as part of the XC720 series.

"This is a platform that allows customers to easily manage virtualized environments at the virtual machine level," said Travis Vigil, Dell's executive director of product management.

Dell will sell, service and support the systems.

The XC720 hyper-converged systems aggregate servers, networking and storage resources in a single box. They are configured with two 160 GB read-intensive SATA solid-state drives (SSDs) in rear drive bays, a SAS controller attached to front drive bays, 3.5-inch SATA SSDs and 3.5-inch 7,200 rpm hard disk drives.

The series supports 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports. The list price starts at $46,000.

The XC720xd-A5 model targets remote office, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), test and development and Web workloads. The XC720xd-B5 and XC720xd-B7 focus on the same workloads minus the remote office support. The XC720xd-C5 appliance focuses on small Oracle databases and Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Exchange, and the XC720xd-C7 system targets databases with larger working sets.

Nutanix's Starter, Pro and Ultimate license editions can be deployed on all the appliances for various degrees of scalability and resiliency. The software stack includes data services such as deduplication, compression, thin provisioning, cloning and snapshots.

Nutanix was among the pioneers of hyper-converged systems, along with SimpliVity and Scale Computing. VMware entered the market this year with its Virtual SAN (VSAN) software, and makes VSAN available for hardware vendors to sell under the EVO: RAIL brand.

Dell is also selling an EVO: RAIL system.

"This market traditionally has been in the realm of startups like Nutanix," said Eric Sheppard, an IDC research director for storage. "Now, it's growing very fast with demand outstripping supply. I expect 2015 to be an inflection point for the hyper-converged market. Dell's entrance in the market will help drive new growth. You can't be everywhere if you are a startup."

Sheppard said early adopters used hyper-converged systems for VDI deployments but now market demand is moving toward traditional business applications such as SQL and Exchange.

"We also see a lot in remote offices and distributed retail, but we also are seeing newer adopters using it for business applications. It's changed that much now," Sheppard said. "VDI still is a big workload for hyper-converged but it's no longer the only one."

Like HP, Dell will have two types of hyper-converged systems. Unlike HP, which designed its own hyper-converged platform in addition to signing on as an EVO: RAIL partner, Dell has two OEM partners. The Nutanix version supports hypervisors other than VMware, and has a more mature storage services set than VSAN and EVO: RAIL.

Next Steps

Hyper-converged market expands with more support

How does EVO: RAIL fit with existing Dell products?

Dig Deeper on Hyper-Converged Vendors and Products

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