The best athletes (and VxBlock 1000) = faster, higher, stronger!
- February 14, 2018
In watching the Olympics, it’s amazing to see athletes doing amazing things – frankly it’s inspiring.
Sometimes it’s a new star rising – something new (amazing Chloe Kim!) .
Sometimes it’s a veteran pulling a “Michael Phelps” – producing every 4 years (see Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer).
I’m not claiming that what we do at work compares to those amazing athletes do… But it makes for a timely analogy with the VxBlock 1000 Ready To Ship (RTS) milestone today 🙂 If you want to learn more, join the #CrowdChat at 11:55am ET today here.
While I no longer lead the efforts behind CI/HCI at Dell EMC – I still have a passion for it, and love the people and the teams in their new homes (post coming up on what’s next for me soon enough).
In 2009, Vblock was born. Cisco together with EMC invented the Converged Infrastructure category – and have led it ever since. Dell EMC VxBlock is the “Sven Kramer” of Converged Infrastructure 🙂
The founding idea was basic, simple: the complexity associated with the base infrastructure stack was a waste of time and money. That waste is bad enough when all you do is look at is acquisition and initial costs – but the waste balloons out when you look at lifecycle management of base infra over years – along with multi-vendor support and commercial costs. What if we were to design, build, manufacture, support, sustain over it’s lifecycle the entire compute/storage/network domain – for bare metal, and up to the VMware layer – as ONE THING?
This complexity of siloes of infrastructure is purely sand in the gears – zero value. It may be a familiar model to people in infrastructure siloes, or purchasing teams accustomed to optimizing for piece parts and using price arbitrage levers… But in every SINGLE case, there’s someone who is looking at the system-level operating complexity and cost and asking “THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY”.
There is – CI and HCI is that better way. They are about changing what you construct into what you consume.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I understand this personally. We certainly didn’t invent HCI – but when we entered the market, we did it in force, we learnt from the people who went first, refined, leveraged our strengths and used that to start innovating on our own. In short order, Dell EMC and VMware became #1 in HCI. I am thankful for those who came before, and respect our competitors. We will furiously defend our #1 position and work to broaden the position.
In CI there are many imitations of the VxBlock business – and likewise respected competitors. Unlike HCI where a year ago we were NOT #1, we were NOT the first – and needed to fight to get the #1 spot; in CI it’s a different story.
When it comes to CI – we have been successfully defending the #1 spot – for almost a DECADE.
Many people (including some in Dell EMC and our channel partners) still view CI as a “bundle”. Many view the value of CI as simply being the sum of the parts (UCS, NEXUS, storage partner). We don’t – VxBlock is about changing the HOW of your operational model, not the WHAT.
None of the CI competitors have furiously embraced the “lifecycle management” idea, and most involve “meet in the channel” business models of servers, network, storage.
These bundles and “meet in the channel” models are different from the “single product, single lifecycle, everything from one place” foundation of VCE and the Vblock. When we execute well on the simplicity of initial standup acceleration, and more importantly, improved lifecycle vs the “piece parts” – that’s when our CI customers are the most happy.
The fact that others have taken a different path is perfectly OK – ultimately customers decide and vote with their dollars on what matters most to them.
Now – what’s new? In early 2017, we realized that it was time for a simplification, a re-invention of Converged Infrastructure. The VxBlock 1000 is a huge milestone – not the first, and not the last.
The work started with going from 2 product families (Vblock and VxBlock) to one (VxBlock). This simplified the Release Certification Matrix (RCM) enormously – and use of the VMware Distributed Switch enables SDN models on VxBlock – we started to see a much, much higher prevalence of NSX on VxBlock as an example. But that was simply the first step. Today’s step is much bigger.
Today the team launched the VxBlock 1000, the next step in simplification and ultimately (over time) full re-invention. Vxblock 1000 = industry’s best CI just got faster, higher, stronger.
So… what’s new?
SIMPLIFICATION: 3x SIMPLER.
- You have 4x the choice in the storage layer (XtremIO X2, VMAX AF, Unity AF, Isilon Gen 6)
- You have 2x the choice in the compute layer (UCS b-series M4 and M5, and c-series) – meaning you can pool VDI dense systems with GPUs, along with test/dev and prod VMs, containers and other very different workloads.
- … All with the value of system-level acquisition, lifecycle and support. You don’t need different “islands”, or Vscale (except at the most massive datacenter scales)
A couple real examples from customer scenarioes can help make this leap forward more visceral.
Note that these may strike you all as BIG. They are BIG. I’ve often joked that VxBlock is available in any size you want – so long as it’s large, XL, or XXL. CI fundamentally doesn’t scale DOWN well. The economics of CI are best at moderate scale and up. You also cannot physically make a CI system that is physically really small… This is one of the HCI advantages.
The first example is a very common model – standard general purpose VSI (virtual server infrastructure). At the top is a VxBlock 350 example – and our CI competitors would be similar. VxBlock 1000 has a 25% smaller footprint, and similar reductions in capital and operation expenses. Why?
Simple. CI normally scales to a certain point, and then you get another “block”. Anyone who says “you can scale it however you want” is smoking something, or is not on the hot seat for sustained lifecycle and support. Why do I say that? There are system design parameters (like fabric capacity, buffer credits, initiator/target maximums, and many, many others) that go into a system level design. While VxBlock 1000 has maximums (it must of course, it’s maximums are so much higher) the multiple systems can be collapsed.
Here’s another example. It’s not uncommon for customers to have multiple “tiers” of VxBlocks based on RAS (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability) and specific data services. This IS NOT for general purporse VM workloads – but workloads with very specific requirements. If you are nodding – you are a customer like this. If you are looking at this post quizzically, you are not one of these customers. These customers often have Multiple VxBlock 740s and several VxBlock 350s, and a VxBlock 540 or two. This kind of customer ALWAYS has a need for a large scale-out NAS use case – and want it in the same single lifecycle, “single throat to choke” model.
In this case – there’s a massive improvement. First, no “islands” of compute or storage capacity as workloads move from test/dev into prod. There’s a shared fabric for everything (resulting in a massive 70% reduction in networking cost). ALL the systems fit into one system, and one management pod (one AMP-VX). When they need to do a lifecycle update – it’s a 75% improvement. Try to imagine doing this yourself, with a mishmash of kit – or even with other forms of CI.
VxBlock 1000 is ORDERABLE TODAY.
All of these improvements are built on top of time-tested, customer validated VxBlock value. VxBlock 1000 builds upon documented VxBlock benefits (from “The Business Value of Modernizing Applications with Dell EMC VxBlock Systems,” a study of customer’s pre/post-CI experiences – published by IDC on Nov 7, 2017):
Look, people keep wanting to debate the role of CI and HCI, and what the future holds. I get that. I don’t think this is super-complicated:
While I no longer lead the CI team (more on this in a bit – I’m keeping a little quiet) – I know they are awesome, and together with the HCI and Ready Solutions teams – they are in a great spot.
On a personal note – I want to congratulate the whole Converged Infrastructure team at Dell EMC on the big day, the big launch – celebrate, and then keep pushing forward together to keep being the best!
Customers, partners (heck, competitors too!) what do YOU think? What do you think about the new VxBlock 1000, and what do you think the team should do next?