Dell EMC Rolls Out Low-Cost Nutanix-Based HCI Appliance For SMB, Midmarket VDI, Calling It A 'Really Good Opportunity For The Channel'

Dell EMC is introducing a low-cost, SMB and midmarket-focused version of its Nutanix-based XC hyper-converged appliance for VDI environments that it says has the power and flexibility to make it a hit with channel partners.

Called the Dell EMC XC Xpress Appliance for VDI, the system is engineered to support between 100 and 500 users and will cost about $100 per seat when it hits the market July 20, said Jeff McNaught, vice president of Dell Cloud Client Computing. The new XC appliance is part of a roster of new products McNaught's division is introducing Thursday.

Dell EMC, Round Rock, Texas, already sells the XC for VDI, but that product is designed to support hundreds of users, up to tens of thousands of users. "We thought we had a gap in our product line, and we're fixing that with this new product," McNaught said, adding that the existing XC for VDI has been a channel success.

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At an average of about $100 per seat, the XC Xpress Appliance for VDI costs about 30 percent less than the standard XC for VDI appliance, which is based on Nutanix hyper-convergence software and Dell EMC PowerEdge servers.

The lower price and ease of use should put the appliance, which is available as a three-node cluster that can be expanded to four nodes, right in the channel's wheelhouse, said McNaught.

"We think this is going to be very, very well received by the channel," he said. "They can install it at their own location or at the customer location and manage it. They can handle all the management and ongoing maintenance. It's a really good opportunity for the channel. We were able to take a lot of cost out of it for the channel.

"[The new appliance] has the simplicity of the XC, it has the same Nutanix stack on it. It has Citrix XenDesktop. It's designed to be self-deployed, it only takes a couple of hours. It's pre-architected and designed by our engineers. It's managed with a series of web-based interfaces. It uses Nutanix Prism management console. It's designed to be very, very flexible with a great price," said McNaught.

Michael Tanenhaus, CEO of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider that works with Dell EMC, said the XC Xpress Appliance for VDI tackles one of the key challenges to selling hyper-converged solutions and VDI, and is sized just right for its purposes.

"Xpress versions are built for people choking on the software number from Nutanix. It's a scale-limited version. In our experience, there are three sizes [of users for VDI]: 10 to 25, up to 300 and up to 5,000. This does very well on the first two, and it doesn't mean that VDI is all you can run on it. If you’re a small office, everybody's remote, it could be a real hit. Project-based work, say for the government, they'll buy it for that," said Tanenhaus.

"When you get toward the 300 size, I'm guessing you'd be hitting the ceiling pretty hard, but you can squeak it in to the 125 to 150 space pretty well. People who want to get started, or for general purpose or remote work, it's great. You can do similar things with VxRail, but XC does VMware, Microsoft and other software and VxRail doesn't, and the price point is advantageous right now," he said.

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In addition to the new XC Xpress Appliance for VDI, Dell EMC Thursday introduced the Dell Latitude 3480 Mobile Thin Client; version 8.4 of its thin client ThinOS operating system; and a new Wyse thin-client management platform.

The Latitude 3480 Mobile Thin Client starts at $799 and is optimized for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise software. It also is able to connect to virtual desktop software including Citrix, Microsoft RDS and VMware Horizon.

ThinOS 8.4 is the latest version of the Wyse thin-client operating system introduced in 2000. Version 8.4 supports VMware's Blast Extreme remote connection protocol, as well as Citrix HDX RealTime for better communications, video and multimedia performance.

To tie it all together, Dell EMC is introducing the Wyse Management Suite, which replaces the existing Wyse Device Manager and Cloud Client Manager. The new tool can be installed in less than five minutes compared with the hour it could take to set up Wyse Device Manager, according to McNaught. The offering is available in a free standard version or a Pro version on a $20 per-seat, per-year subscription basis. McNaught estimates that about 20 percent of customers are a fit for the Pro version.

"With more and more channel partners facing customers who have their workforce transforming, this is an ideal time to go back and take another look at VDI," McNaught said. "More of their customers need a solution that securely delivers applications to users that could work from anywhere. We've made it less expensive and easier than ever to install a fully modern VDI installation, and these new tools make it easier than ever to maintain and manage that. It just got a lot faster, easier and less expensive to do this."