Opinion by Tom O’Reilly, CTO for Dell EMC’s Converged Platforms in EMEA.
Do you put your smartphone together piece by piece? Does your new car arrive in boxes and instructions to assemble? Did you cut, measure and sew your own clothes?
There is certainly something to be said for a hand-crafted marvel, an object unique among its peers. In the right circumstances these show class, sophistication and a taste for the finer things. But they come at a cost and do not even make sense in every situation. Though building a custom car is ideal for relaxing Sunday drives, it’s not the vehicle you want to take you around town every day.
If this makes sense for most products, why not the infrastructure we build new technologies on? Why spend a lot of time, money and effort building machines from scratch when it is far easier and better to invest in a system already designed to meet your needs? For too long vendors have sold the components, sharing extra to build and configure them. Often these latter tasks land on the shoulders of IT departments, wasting precious time that could have been spent on technology that drives business outcomes. Your servers are possibly the least efficient investments in your technology stack.
This is where converged (CI) and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) step in to help, as converged hardware, specifically the products created by Dell EMC’s VCE division, is part of what attracted Michael Dell to the historic merger between his company and infrastructure leader EMC.
At a recent conference, Michael Dell called out one single product: VxRail [one of VCE’s new generation HCI solutions]. He also talked about the future of tech being very much converged and hyper converged. That's what we do. So being the Converged Platforms and Solutions Division of Dell EMC, we anticipate this can become the heart of the company over time. All solutions might start running through convergence.
The arrival of Convergence
Dell’s hopes for the converged infrastructure market is not a technology pipe dream. Analysts agree: MarketsandMarkets forecasts the CI market will grow from $11.53 billion in 2014 to $ 33.89 billion in 2019. HCI, which is CI but with deeper software-defined solutions, will grow 79 percent to reach almost $2 billion in 2016, predicts Gartner.
Why is this? CI and HCI is not just a server system. By using its partnerships with vendors such as Cisco, VMWare, SAP, Oracle and Virtuastream, Dell EMC’s systems are configured to handle high-end workloads from the get-go, be it a core application such as an ERP or taking advantage of cloud platforms.
These incredible gains are due to the fast maturing of the converged landscape. VCE has had great success with service providers and customers across the world, and we are working with a number of them in Africa. It's a great value proposition because they can focus on the services and applications, and not the underlying infrastructure.
By removing the headache of designing these systems, he continued, companies and service providers can focus on using new methodologies such as hybrid cloud. Moving workloads for efficiency, performance or cost reasons become simpler. The labour-intensive tasks of keeping technology lights on get replaced by a focus on meeting business solutions. The effectiveness of CI and HCI is obvious just by looking at installation: typically a new server ecosystem can take between 18 months to two years to stand up. CI and HCI has in some cases reduced that to three months.
Catering to the customer
Let's say you have a greenfields environment and SAP comes to do a new deployment. You build this traditional environment, so every single customer’s will look different. A converged solution has a consistent experience coming in. So companies such as SAP really loves converged, because they know what they will find at the customer. It also makes sense for the customer. The operation of the infrastructure layer has to be as seamless and invisible as possible, because they have to focus on the application layer. In a traditional environment they focus on both, so they get stretched. On converged it’s primarily the app, which is what delivers value to the business, and that is what they want.
The introduction of Dell’s own infrastructure solutions only improves VCE and Dell EMC’s offering. CI and HCI configurations can now reach even deeper into services that deliver in the consumer space, delivering for Windows 10 devices and mobile ecosystems at a new level.
Five years ago the technology stumbled out of the gate. Now things are starting to take hold, the technology has matured and the market is hungry for it. Now you can do more with the cash you have. VxRail was launched in March, and we are already second in the global hyper-converged market. We expect to be number one by the end of the year.