Dell Intros PowerEdge VRTX: Converged Infrastructure For SMB, Remote Office

Dell on Tuesday unveiled the PowerEdge VRTX, a new converged infrastructure offering with integrated server, storage and networking technology targeted at small and midsize businesses and remote offices of midsize and larger businesses.

Dell also introduced its fifth-generation of modular data centers, which Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager for Dell servers, called the first modular data center solution targeting the broad market.

The PowerEdge VRTX, which was officially rolled out during the opening keynotes at the Dell Enterprise Forum, was designed to be easy to deploy, manage and maintain, Norrod said.

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"We think this is a disruptive solution for small offices and remote offices," Norrod said.

Marius Haas, president of enterprise solutions for Dell, said the PowerEdge VRTX was all about helping customers simplify their IT infrastructures.

"This is really compelling," Haas said. "It will take a year for competitors to come up with anything like this."

The PowerEdge VRTX features up to four dual-processor server blades, each with a maximum capacity of 768 GB of memory. It can be configured with up to 48 TB of direct-attach storage capacity, which is shared among the up to eight processors. Dell PowerConnect networking technology is also built into the small chassis.

The PowerEdge VRTX is scheduled to ship in June with an entry price of $9,999 for two blades, each with a single processor and 32 GB of memory, as well as 5 TB of SATA storage.

Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and Dell partner, said the PowerEdge VRTX appears to be way ahead of the market.

"That much simplicity and power in such a small footprint," Clifford said. "I had four of my engineers sitting at my table this morning. When they heard about it, they started grinning. After the keynote, they got together and were already talking about where they can use it."

Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and Dell partner, said the idea of a simple data center converged infrastructure with little cabling is attractive to his company's customers. "Our engineers are really excited about it."

Even so, more details are needed before a final understanding of the possible market for the PowerEdge VRTX, said Daniel Morgan, owner of the Bakersfield, Calif.-based solution provider SANplicity and Dell partner.

"You can never get anything out of buzz words," Morgan said. "So I'll be looking forward to seeing the numbers."

NEXT: The Fifth-Generation Dell Modular Data Center

SANplicity's Morgan said he has yet to see the VRTX's price point, how networking is done and how redundant it can be since it is contained in a single chassis.

He cited Dell's Active System 800 converged infrastructure solution as an example where buzz does not always meet reality.

"Dell oversells it," he said. "It said customers can get 100 virtual machines on 24 hard drives. You can't do it. You really have to dig through the marketing.

The PowerEdge VRTX is not the first converged infrastructure offering targeting the SMB market. The ExpressPod reference architecture from NetApp and Cisco, introduced last Fall, targets businesses with up to 500 users.

The new fifth-generation Dell Modular Data Center, based on high-density Dell PowerEdge servers, make use of individual power, IT and cooling modules that snap together to form an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-maintain data infrastructure, Dell's Norrod said.

"Modular Data Center is a misnomer," he said. "Our Modular Data Center is a completely engineered system from Dell that allows you to deploy on barren ground a complete data center."

Morgan said he is looking forward to getting details on Dell's latest Modular Data Center.

"This is a very niche market," he said. "But we just happen to have a customer looking to buy a modular data center."

Davenport's Clifford said his engineers are excited about the idea of a modular data center suitable for a broad customer set.

"The proof is in the details," he said. "But I think Dell makes sense. Think of what CIOs face. Every CIO on the planet is dealing with systems that can't go down, and they can't live with a degradation of performance. When you look at that complexity, if Dell can define a solution to simplify the data center, that's a powerful message. Put it in the hands of my engineers with faster deployment and simpler management and boom, they're ready to go."