Partners Hail Dell's Converged Appliance Push As Big Win For Channel


Dell Tuesday unveiled four converged IT appliances tailored toward specific workloads in partnership with Nutanix, Oracle, Fusion-io and Cloudera. It’s a move that Dell partners say will stoke the fires of their Dell business, helping them easily break into a raft of new customer engagements without a lot of heavy lifting.

“These appliances allow us to start conversations with our customers about solutions we just weren’t having right now,” said Rick Gouin, chief technology officer for Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and Dell partner. “We have a ton of customers who are running Oracle and now we can start talking to them about Dell’s Oracle solutions, among other things.”

At its Dell User Conference in Hollywood, Fla., Dell said it would be moving beyond commodity servers and introduced new workload-specific appliances running on Dell hardware, including a server integrated with the Oracle 12c database application. It also introduced integrated servers running an in-memory appliance for big data using Cloudera's Hadoop solution as well as an application acceleration appliance featuring high-performance Fusion-io technology.

Related: Dell Steps Up Enterprise Play With Integrated Oracle 12c, Cloudera Hadoop Appliances

Dell also unveiled a new OEM agreement to resell Dell-branded Nutanix converged storage appliances. The Nutanix software-defined appliance combines compute, storage and networking into a single package.

“Dell is no stranger to appliances, but what Dell has brought together are some A-list partners that together make Dell a formidable opponent in the data center,” said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Dell partner based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Dell has sold workload-specific Compellent and EqualLogic hardware of its own. It has also partnered with SAP, Red Hat and Microsoft on optimized servers. But Tuesday’s announcement, say partners, ups Dell’s game, helping them more squarely compete with software-defined solutions offered by Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

The appliance approach, Goldstein said, takes the complexity out of engineering solutions for customers. “Today I need a server expert, storage expert and an Oracle expert to engineer 12c database solutions. With the appliance approach, Dell has done more than 90 percent of the heavy lifting. It’s easy for sales to sell and easy for customers to understand what they are buying.”

Simplicity is at the heart of the Dell appliance strategy, said Marius Haas, Dell's chief commercial officer and president of enterprise solutions. "We know customers have too much complexity in their data centers and want operational and management simplicity. That’s our sweet spot," he said.

“The operative word is 'simplicity,' ” said Jason Langer, senior solutions architect at GCSIT Solutions, a Dell partner based in Seattle. “Dell has a world-class server platform and can now leverage its trusted brand, support and reliability with some of the smartest, most innovative names in the industry.”

Dell executives say its partnerships with Nutanix, Cloudera, Fusion-io and Oracle illustrate the companies' open nature and willingness to give customers and channel partners best-in-breed solutions. “Part of the dynamics in IT is building strong partnerships with the right companies,” said Frank Vitagliano, vice president of channel sales at Dell.

Channel partners say they are excited about Dell’s strategy as it reflects changes in the IT landscape. That change is away from complex multivendor solutions that require countless hours of configuration and maintenance to one where a single vendor’s converged solution is engineered from the ground up for specific IT needs.

According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems, the converged infrastructure and hyper-converged infrastructure market is growing 50 percent annually and will be reach $6 billion this year.

PUBLISHED JUNE 24, 2014