EMC Exec: No Competition Between Dell-Nutanix Appliance And EMC Hyper-Convergence Portfolio

Dell-EMC intends to take a more-is-better approach to hyper-convergence, selling Dell’s Nutanix-powered XC appliance alongside EMC offerings such as VBlock, VxRack and VxRail, according to EMC’s top hyper-convergence executive.

And while this sets the combined company on a course to sell a patchwork of complementary and competing proprietary and OEM products, solution providers say having a wide array of options is an effective and profitable way to approach hyper-convergence customers.

Chad Sakac, president of VCE, EMC’s Converged Platform Division, wrote in a recent blog that the division will likely be the home of Dell’s XC appliance once the $62 billion merger closes. Dell executives have told CRN that account executives from each company will work cooperatively, and with the channel, to meet customers’ needs, meaning it’s entirely possible that EMC sales teams could wind up selling Dell XC solutions.

[Related: The 10 Coolest Hyper-Converged Products Of 2016 (So Far)]

Sakac explained that the lines between Dell and EMC’s hyper-convergence offerings are clear enough in the market that they can be sold without conflict, and solution providers said they agree.

Dell and Nutanix, a top hyper-convergence startup that has raised $312 million in venture funding, struck an OEM deal in 2014 and recently renewed it. Hyper-convergence refers to compute, storage, networking and virtualization running together on x86 hardware.

’I am absolutely delighted that Dell will continue the Nutanix relationship after the acquisition,’ said Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Waltham, Mass.-based solution provider that works with Dell and recently began selling EMC. ’Customers will have more choices. I’m eager to really get on board with EMC. We just did our first VxRail deals, and we’ve done $1.3 million with EMC in a month.

’I also have an existing [Dell] XC install base, so I need Dell to be committed to that,’ Winslow said. ’Now I’ll have two of the best products in the [hyper-convergence] race. The risk is it could be confusing, but that’s where the partner comes into play. It allows you to add value.’

Scott Miller, vice president of IT at World Wide Technologies, a St. Louis-based solution provider that works with a range of vendors, said he agrees with Sakac’s argument that hyper-convergence solutions offered by Dell and EMC don’t necessarily interfere with each other.

’If I buy into the [EMC] 'blocks, racks and rails' story, it’s not really competitive against Nutanix,’ Miller said. The Nutanix-based Dell XC appliance, ’is for a smaller play, or someone who hasn’t completely bought into [the hyper-convergence] methodology,’ he said.

More than any other EMC offering, the Dell XC appliance may come into competition with EMC’s VxRail appliance, a white box-based offering developed with VMware and introduced last February.

EMC's Sakac said positioning VxRail and the Dell XC appliance will be simple for the combined company. ’If you’re a customer who has standardized on [VMware] vSphere, VxRail is the [hyper-converged infrastructure appliance] for you – period,’ he wrote, because VxRail was jointly engineered with VMware and has a single point of support.

For customers that favor KVM, or Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization, Sakac said EMC’s flexible VxRack is the right choice, unless the customer intends to start small and grow ’moderately,’ in which case the Dell XC appliance is the right fit.

Still, discipline will be required to keep the Nutanix-based Dell XC apliance from competing with Dell-EMC offerings after the merger is completed. Sakac explained that EMC is likely to use Dell’s PowerEdge server platform in both its VxRail and VxRack systems, all but reserving the XC for customers that specifically want a Nutanix solution.

’If the new VxRail is built on Dell compute, Dell will have more margin there to work with than they’d be able to do being a reseller of the Nutanix product,’ said one solution provider who wished to remain anonymous. ’There’s an extra hand in the pie because Nutanix has to get paid too.’

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