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Dell inks OEM deal with Nutanix to build mutant server, storage, networking beasts

Software could maybe manage Compellent arrays

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Dell has announced it will begin supplying a converged server, storage and networking appliance using Nutanix software.

Nutanix is one of several startups making waves in the converged system space. Such systems are simpler to acquire, install and operate as they use integrated hardware and software components designed to eliminate as much complexity as they can.

Nutanix sells a range of appliances running its NOS software, which scales out to add capacity and performance to the system. Shared storage is produced by virtualising the node's own storage into a single pool.

Dell's latest box of tricks comes in the light of VCE's success, VCE being funded by Cisco, EMC and VMware and producing an integrated Vblock offering. Dell could have integrated its own server, storage and networking kit but has decided that it is better to use Nutanix as the software glue for its converged system offering.

Nutanix and Dell have set up an OEM arrangement which will, in due course, result in Dell appliances powered by Nutanix software; a series of converged infrastructure appliances built on Dell PowerEdge servers and called the Dell XC Series of Web-scale Converged Appliances.

Dell tells us the term "Web-scale" means:

  • Hyperconverged system using X86 servers
  • All intelligence is in the software with no special hardware
  • Distributed everything with no single point of failure
  • Self-healing with fail-in-place capability - the system keeps running
  • API-driven automation and rich analytics

The company says: "Joint customers will be able to run nearly any virtual machine on a cluster of XC appliances. Storage and server capacity can be expanded by adding additional nodes, one at a time, with zero downtime."

Nutanix talks of software-defined data centres and CEO Dheeraj Pandey has blogged about the idea.

The deal is a huge win for Nutanix, which will be able to say that its approach has been validated by one of the largest server and system players in the market. Dell gets access to a market sector that will, we think, be generally a rung below the upper-range Vblock offerings, and also be more integrated; the suppliers say hyper-converged, than Dell's current offering.

Nutanix is actively engaged in a fierce competitive Vblock campaign.

There was some apprehension in Nutanix's channel about this deal, Dell being viewed as a hard competitor and potentially taking deals away from existing Nutanix channel members. However Nutanix has been able to assure them that this is not the case, with deal registration and other measures protecting their interests.

Asked about Nutanix linking to external arrays, such as Dell's Compellent ones, Nutanix comms director Declan Waters said it was not happening with this announcement. However, "over time, Nutanix SDS software will be configured to tier with external storage arrays," he said.

El Reg thinks Dell XC systems will be announced within the next three months. Nutanix competitors such as Simplivity and Maxta will take heart from the Dell-Nutanix deal and may even get calls from potential OEM partners. ®

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