Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is a new reality and a trend that is expected to expand across industries. According to IDC, Revenue from hyper-converged systems sales grew 78.1% year over year during the second quarter of 2018, generating $1.5 billion worth of sales. This amounted to 41.2% of the total converged systems market. In an interview with DataQuest, Amit Mehta, Transformational Lead, Enterprise, Dell EMC, talks about some latest technologies and trends in HCI, Dell EMC’s future roadmap on the same, and what the India market looks like for Dell EMC an its HCI solutions.
Please throw some light on some of the latest technologies and trends in hyper-converged infrastructure
The hyper-converged infrastructure had begun by converging the storage environment. Software defined storage was leading that initiative where, instead of customers buying physical hardware for storage, they started encouraging installation of software for storage. Now it has gone beyond storage to compute to network and is encompassing areas of creating your own private cloud. We have an offering VxRack SDDC powered by VMware software called VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) for the same. Apart from providing hyper-convergence around storage, compute and network, it also provides customers with self-service portals.
On these portals, they can put in their requirements of different business units, which gets automatically provisioned from the system based on the department’s approval. This is like an Artificial Intelligence (AI) application built into the system wherein without any manual intervention, it creates the kind of resources the department wants, delivers it and at the end of the duration, it creates a report stating how much of that, resource has been utilised by the said department. It also generates a bill on the cost to the department. IT will become more like a self-serviced division, work like an automated arm, and create better revenues for that department. However, right now, the customers have just started in this direction and not all of them are mature to adopt it. However, this would be the future of hyper-convergence.
Top five trends that will drive HCI business in 2019 will be a) Business Critical Application b) Hybrid /Multi Cloud c) Disaster Recovery d) App Development and e) Edge Computing.
How has the journey of Dell EMC’s HCI business been so far? What is the future roadmap?
Dell is the only vendor providing end-to-end rack based solution that integrates the network as a part of it. We also have management console taking care of not just the compute, memory and network but also of completely software defined solutions like self-servicing, charge back, automation that are Dell’s uniqueness. VMware being a part of Dell EMC, we are the only one having appliance based hyper-converge solution end-to-end on VMware. Jointly, we have created the hyper-convergence solution and we do not have to rely on multiple technologies to move forward on our hyper-convergence journey. Ideally, all software should work tandem with each other and this can happen only when the software is developed as a product from a single factory, which we have jointly achieved. Thus, our customers can experience seamless support in all spheres from a particular vendor. Otherwise, issues may creep in terms of support and management.
We believe that the only way to maintain leadership is by ensuring customer delight. We work closely with our customers to help them transform their IT thereby, helping them to increase their productivity, performance, scalability and also reducing the footprint in their data center through our HCI solution. Adoption of Hyper Converged technologies are no longer restricted to Non-Critical/perimeter workloads. HCI is slowly emerging in enterprise applications along with bringing new opportunities in the market. 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 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.
While the HCI architecture started with an adoption in large enterprises, over time, it has matured to encompass customers of all size, complexity and workloads. The rapid adoption rate in the market is a testimony to this. Dell has made their HCI offerings more compulsive through flexible licensing options (to accommodate customers of all sizes), validating more workloads (SAP HANA) and supporting next generation platforms (Pivotal PaaS, Containers). With increasing number of customers adopting software defined networking as an integral component of hybrid cloud architecture, our customer can expect tighter integration of SDN with VxRail moving forward. In addition to packing multiple software components into VxRail, API enhancements are being done to ensure tighter integration with higher level orchestration and automation tools like vRealize suite.
‘Edge to Core’ being the mantra of Dell, customer will also have options to choose VxRail for the cost constrained edge deployments through a 2 node VxRail cluster. On the hardware front, customers can also expect support for next generation technologies like faster CPUs, wider choice of CPUs and Optane drives as well as all NVMe offerings. In short, VxRail will have the best integration with VMware ecosystem in the future making it a compelling choice for customers intending to deploy internal or hybrid cloud in their Data center
How have HCI and Dell EMC solutions proving to be beneficial to clients?
Customers across all 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.
How does the India market look like for future ready solutions offered by Dell EMC?
According to IDC, Revenue from hyper-converged systems sales grew 78.1% year over year during the second quarter of 2018, generating $1.5 billion worth of sales. This amounted to 41.2% of the total converged systems market. Dell Inc. was the largest supplier with $418.7 million in revenue and a 28.8% share globally. As per analysts’ view, the generic market size of hyper-convergence in India is about USD 35 to 40 million at present. Because of its rapid year-on-year growth at the rate of 46 to 50 percent, the market is expected to be USD 63 to 65 million by 2019 in India alone.
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.