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VMworld 2018: Dell EMC Expands Cloud-Focused Storage, HCI Capabilities

Enhancements to VxRail, Unity VSA, Data Domain Virtual Edition, and other storage and hyper-converged infrastructure offerings are aimed at making it easier for businesses to implement multi-cloud and on-premises-to-cloud infrastructures.

Dell EMC opened its presence at this week’s VMworld 2018 conference in Las Vegas with a wide range of updates to its data center infrastructure and cloud infrastructure portfolios.

The updates ranged from new entry-level cloud storage offerings to updates to its hyper-converged infrastructure and storage software products to new cloud-focused services and offerings.

Much of the focus for Dell EMC has been to take advantage of its position as a trusted adviser for business users to help them in their journey to adopt the cloud, and in particular multi-cloud strategies, said Sam Grocott, senior vice president of marketing for the Round Rock, Texas-based company's Infrastructure Solutions Group.

[Related: NetApp Expands Multi-Cloud Strategy With Google Cloud Relationship, Unveils First End-To-End NVMe Arrays]

This comes as 85 percent of applications are being moved back from the cloud to some sort of on-premises infrastructure, Grocott said citing IDC statistics.

"We're seeing a large shift of applications that were born in the cloud move back to on-premises. … Customers want a partner to bet on that will provide a constant experience across a complete set of services in the multi-cloud world," he said.

Dell EMC strategy is to offer customers the ability to seamlessly tie their on-premises infrastructures to cloud platforms, and is providing the cloud-enabled infrastructure, services, and consumption choices to help customers do so, Grocott said.

Dell EMC on Monday made several significant upgrades to its VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure offering.

The biggest change is a move to synchronize the release of updated versions of VxRail better with new releases of the VMware vSAN software which underpins the VxRail offering. Going forward, new releases of the VxRail appliances will be available within 30 days of updates to vSAN, Grocott said.

It will be interesting to see if Dell EMC can pull off synchronized releases, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and long-time Dell EMC channel partner.

The company has done a good job of cutting the lag between the release of its VMware ESXi virtualization software, another component of VxRail, and VxRail from years to under six months, Tanenhaus told CRN.

"VxRail requires enterprise stability, and so it's important to make sure it's fully baked before release," he said. "It makes sense that there's some lag. It's not a problem. It's a feature. If Dell EMC is shooting to get the latest VxRail out within 30 days of its latest vSAN, it will have to make sure vSAN is fully baked first. the hyper-converged infrastructure market is extremely competitive."

VxRail is also seeing the introduction of new VMware validated designs to support disaster recovery on VMware Cloud-based infrastructures, as well as new Dell EMC networking fabric support to increase flexibility and competitiveness, Grocott said.

Dell EMC also introduced a new version of its VxRack SDDC infrastructure for building software-defined data center with the latest version 2.3.2 of its VMware Cloud Foundation software, and promised in-sync updates with VCF going forward, Grocott said. VxRack SDDC, based on Dell's latest PowerEdge 14th-generation servers, are also getting new high-density Dell EMC storage nodes, he said.

Several updates were made to Dell EMC's cloud-facing software offerings to help clients better manage data across on-premises and cloud infrastructures.

The company introduced a new version of the Dell EMC Unity VSA (virtual storage appliance) Cloud Edition, a software-based appliance that includes all the capabilities of the company's Unity storage system but in a software form that can be run directly on the cloud.

New to the Unity VSA Cloud Edition is improved ease-of-use, the ability to intelligently tier files from on-premises to the AWS cloud, the ability to work with file systems of p to 256 TBs, and simple extension of disaster recovery to the cloud, all via the VMware Cloud on AWS infrastructure, Grocott said.

"This is truly a hybrid cloud-consistent experience, he said.

The Unity VSA Cloud Edition takes about 15 minutes to set up, and then customers can start moving data to the cloud, Tanenhaus said.

"EMC's legacy is having virtual versions of many of their storage products," he said. "Now the Unity VSA has the same 256-TB capacity limit of the physical appliance."

Also new from Dell EMC is a new updated Data Domain Virtual Edition, which is the software appliance of the company's Data Domain data protection appliance. The new version 4.0 now supports KVM hypervisors in addition to VMware and Hyper-V, allows up to 96 TBs of data in the cloud per appliance vs. 16 TBs in the past, and works with AWS, Azure, and VMware Cloud, Grocott said.

"We believe we are the most trusted data protection vendor both in and out of the cloud," he said.

The addition of KVM support to Data Domain Virtual edition was important, as it now covers all the major hypervisors customers are using, Tanenhaus said.

Expanding the DDVE to work with 96 TBs of raw capacity is also crucial in moving customers data protection to the cloud, Tanenhaus said.

"This makes it equal to the original non-cloud physical capacity of Data Domain," he said. "The first backup of data usually is large, but up to this point customers could only do 16 TBs to the cloud. Remember that Data Domain claims it can shrink physical capacity up to 50:1. Think about how much this will help customers reduce their monthly AWS bill."

The company also enhanced its CloudIQ predictive analytics offering with new machine learning capabilities to improve the insights it offers on cloud analytics as well as its first mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices for easy 24x7 system management, Grocott said.

Other enhancements to Dell EMC's cloud offerings include support for Amazon Web Services for Data Domain Cloud Tier, a new Data Domain Cloud Disaster Recovery offering for the VMware Cloud infrastructure that provides three-click failovers and two-click failbacks, support for Cloud Snapshot Manager in Azure, and a new lower entry point for Dell EMC's Elastic Cloud Storage that lets customers start at 60 TBs of on-line cloud-like storage compared to the previous entry point of 400 TBs.

Grocott said Dell EMC also expanded its Future-Proof loyalty program, which gives customers investment protection for many of their storage purchases, to now also include VxRail, new cloud consumption models, and new cloud enablement technologies.

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