Hyper-convergence Next Logical Step for Organizations: Dell EMC

Thanks to a software-defined approach, HCI enables pay-as-you-grow, besides offering operational simplicity

Anshuman Rai, Director Sales, Converged Platform & Solutions Division, Dell EMC

Hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) is the fastest-growing part of the IT infrastructure market today. Its software-defined approach is a key factor for the rise of interest in HCIS.

Anshuman Rai, Director Sales, Converged Platform & Solutions Division, Dell EMC, talks to Pradeep Chakraborty about HCI and more. Excerpts:

BW CIO: How large is the India market for Integrated Systems consisting of hyper converged infrastructure? How do you foresee its growth in India?

Anshuman Rai: HCI is the fastest-growing part of the IT infrastructure market today as businesses of all sizes desire for substantial infrastructure simplification. As per IDC, India would be a USD 63M market for HCI by 2020. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 43 percent.

The converged market will be USD 180M with a modest ACGR of 9 percent. In India, hyper converged infrastructure systems are attracting the largest amount of interest among the converged systems portfolio. Its software-defined approach, which abstracts the compute, storage and networking on a single plane, is a key factor for the rise of interest in HCIS. HCIS’s single-vendor support model and ability to match a large number of use cases offers greater benefits and eliminates complexity.

Dell EMC continues to be the undisputed leader in the overall converged systems market with 28.9 percent market share and is the fastest growing HCI vendor, more than doubling sales year-over-year for Q1 2017, according to IDC.

BW CIO: What are the latest trends that you see in the HCI market?

Anshuman Rai: HCI is becoming more and more mainstream. Customers are exploring HCI for critical workloads like DWH, design applications, SOC, etc. So, it is no longer about test and development, and VDI workloads. Customers have started to appreciate the simplicity of HCI and are exploring it for all their virtual workloads.

Hyper-convergence is expected to be the next logical step for organizations looking to improve their workloads and infrastructure, while keeping cost under control. Recent market studies indicate that the steady acceptance of cloud, mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) is driving the demand for HCIS.

By 2019, approximately 30 percent of the global storage array capacity installed in enterprise data centers will be deployed on software-defined storage (SDS) or hyper-converged integrated system (HCIS) architectures. Twenty percent of the mission-critical applications, currently deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure, will transition to HCISs by 2020.

BW CIO: What are some of the challenges the industry is facing and how are you addressing those challenges?

Anshuman Rai: The key challenge in the adoption of HCI is to ensure that an HCI setup does not become another silo in the DC. An HCI solution should integrate well with the existing technologies in the data centre. This is where the power of portfolio of Dell technologies come to play.

Our Vxrail solution is built on industry leading VMware technology. This ensures that the solution seamlessly gels into a customer data centre, leveraging existing software and hardware assets and requiring minimum skills. For customers who want a complete end to end solution on HCI, DellEMC can help with our rack scale appliances which are unique in industry. This is one of the strong points for Dell EMC.

Continuous modernization is also one of the key challenges for customers wanting to adopt integrated systems. This presents an opportunity for Dell EMC as we are uniquely positioned to digitally transform the customers by offering edge to core solutions.

What sets Dell EMC apart in the industry is that we can offer the full continuum of converged solutions to help our customers simplify IT – from build. Our converged portfolio can address any workload in any IT environment and deliver it based on the preferred customer experience.  

BW CIO: What is the latest offering from Dell EMC in the HCI space?

Anshuman Rai: We have just refreshed our entire portfolio with our new generation of 14G servers. With this newest generation of PowerEdge servers, Dell EMC will bring to market the hot Azure Stack hybrid cloud offering on next generation compute. This is great news for Dell EMC’s customers as the 14th generation of PowerEdge servers are purpose-built for hyper-converged infrastructure.

This software stack integrated into PowerEdge servers will pack-in power and security, while optimizing performance as a result of rigorous testing and validation. The 14th Generation of PowerEdge servers are at the bedrock of the modern data center and are aimed at driving IT transformation in the industry. The newly integrated 'PowerEdge' servers with 'VxRail Appliances' hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) in India.

VxRail Appliances on PowerEdge servers allow Dell EMC to address more use cases in India and to help modernize data centers with comprehensive service and support that provide a path to assisting business growth and investment protection for organizations of all sizes.

The Intel Skylake processor-based systems is now available across our portfolio of racks and appliances, and even our cloud portfolio like EHC and Azure stack.

BW CIO: How is Dell EMC’s VxRail solutions different from the competition?

Anshuman Rai: Our strength lies in the breadth of our portfolio. Customers can chose from simple appliances or rack scale ready-made end-to-end HCI-based solution. In case of hybrid clouds, customer can chose any Dell EMC platform to build their cloud, while at the same time, they can also buy complete solutions like EHC and Azure stack, and cut deployment times into less than half.

In addition to all of this, the Dell technologies portfolio comprising VMware, pivotal etc. makes our solution more compelling for customers compared to others. We differentiate ourselves in packaging our solutions. Our solutions come with data protection, disaster recovery and data backup solutions in-built with lowest bandwidth utilization.

VxRail is the first jointly engineered system by Dell and VMware as we merged as a single entity as Dell EMC. It offers the industry’s only HCI appliances powered by VMware vSAN. The primary benefit that our VxRail solutions offer is flexibility in terms of CPU, storage or drive options. We have also got a bit of cost benefits as the whole solution including the platform comes from our group of companies.

These VxRail appliances feature 40 percent more CPU performance for the same price, increased flexibility and scalability with more configurations, all-flash nodes equipped with double the storage capacity and a new 3-node entry point that is more than 25 percent less expensive.

BW CIO: What are some of the use cases of HCI in an organization?

Anshuman Rai: Customers across all the industries can benefit from the adoption of converged systems. Organizations large and small, from all industries, who are striving to modernize their infrastructure in order to compete in today’s digital age will benefit from an integrated system and converged infrastructure environment.

A hyper-converged infrastructure in particular helps customers in building, maintaining, and expanding their own IT infrastructure is risky, saps time and resources, and makes predictable scaling difficult.

Managing the lifecycle becomes easier, which is otherwise complicated with multiple upgrades and dealing with multiple support organizations – is too hard and takes too long. Dell EMC’s VxRail offers configure-to-order flexibility to meet any use case.

From an architectural standpoint, VxRail’s key performance advantage is its ability to deliver this simplicity in a distributed enterprise starts with its tight integration between VMware vSAN and the vSphere hypervisor. This is dramatically different from every other hyper-converged storage solutions that require the installation of a virtual storage appliance on each host.

While, hyper-converged infrastructure is being marginally preferred for perimeter workloads, which are non-core for the business. It is also being used extensively where organizations have high scale-out requirements. With scalability and simplicity as the key parameters for customers in India, HCI appliances are a perfect fit for businesses looking to move from a “build yourself” to a “buy” model.

BW CIO: Can you list down few factors driving the HCI market?

Anshuman Rai: Simplicity and agility are the two critical factors driving the HCI market. It is great way to start the data centre modernization journey where we take customers on a software-defined journey.

There are a number of key drivers for the adoption of HCI systems:

Better business value is a key factor. Savings in CapEx or initial investments and operational expenses are lower when compared to traditional SAN architectures (this includes power and cooling, ongoing system administration, and the elimination of forklift upgrades and data migrations);

HCI enables a pay-as-you-grow approach. Start with what you need today and expand incrementally rather purchasing large amount of compute and storage up front;

Speed and agility. In addition to faster time to value/deployment, IT can easily add storage and compute resources and networking to meet business demands as they grow and expand;

Scale easily. HCI allows users to start with a small deployment (several nodes), and then flexibly and efficiently scale out to support dynamic workloads and evolving business needs (100s or 1000+ nodes depending on the system type);

Operational simplicity. HCI is also managed from a central console that controls both compute and storage and automates many functions, which is also driving customer interest because it helps cuts down on the number of tools that have to be learned and used.

BW CIO: What is the scope of HCI market in India when compared to other markets?

Anshuman Rai: As per IDC, the HCI market would be growing at a CAGR of 43 percent, which is the fastest, in terms of growth rate. We now have all the top HCI vendors present in India market which will further fuel the growth of the market.

Adoption of converged and hyper-converged infrastructure in India is expected to grow significantly as these systems can help address some of the key critical challenges. Datacenters have restrictions when it comes to scaling easily because of the legacy infrastructure and the related migration challenges. Organizations are fixing these scalability needs by adding resources but this process is getting complex.

Organizations are looking for complete open environment, so that they can plug and play the required resources without any integration challenges and be more flexible to organizational needs. These are some of the areas where HCI can simplify the process, improve performance, scalability and reduction in hardware footprint in datacenters.


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