VMware and Dell EMC Tighten VxRail, VxBlock Integration For Hybrid Cloud 'Easy Button'


Partners are cheering as Dell EMC and VMware take VxRail and VxBlock integration to another level by boosting capabilities for hybrid cloud while also injecting new automation and software to simplify software-defined data center operations.

"Everyone wants automation, multi-cloud capabilities – really customers all want an easy button. This feels like Dell EMC and VMware are making an easy button for customers as it relates to the infrastructure, automation and cloud tools integration," said Terry McGill, managing partner of Pegasus Technology Solutions, a Frisco, Texas-based HPE partner and 2018 CRN Triple Crown winner. "When you talk about integration at the edge, reducing the node count down from three to two, a similar management console plugging into vCenter – that really feels like they're positioning themselves for the edge and remote office that is going to drive cloud opportunities and services opportunities for partners like us."

At VMworld 2018 Europe in Barcelona on Tuesday, Dell EMC unveiled a slew of new VMware integration around its flagship hyper-converged offering VxRail, including the support for VMware Cloud Foundation and fully automated network configuration with Dell EMC's Networking SmartFabric Services. The enhancements enable VxRail to scale more rapidly and reduces 98 percent of the network configuration and administration work through integration with VxRail Manager and VMware vSphere, according to Jon Siegal, Dell EMC's vice president of product marketing for converged platforms and solutions.

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"It's the first hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) appliance in the market with fully automated network configuration, which we're calling the easy button for networking with HCI. That's a big game-changer," said Siegal in an interview with CRN. "It's also exciting that for the 500,000 vSphere customers out there, we're announcing that 100 percent of the tasks in VxRail can now be managed through vCenter."

VxRail tasks are now available to be managed directly from VMware vCenter Server console, making it easier to move and manage VxRail from VMware. Siegal said VxRail is the only VMware integrated hyper-converged appliance with VMware Cloud Foundation, enabling it to be future-proof for next generation VMware cloud technologies. There is also tighter integration with VMware's latest vSAN release, version 6.7U1, and support for VMware Validated Design for SDDC 4.3.

"The addition of VMware Cloud Foundation is an important next step in moving VxRail to really being a cloud product," said Dan McCormick, executive vice president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based Dell EMC partner and 2018 CRN Triple Crown winner. "So for us and our customers, especially in that midmarket range, being able to implement VxRail knowing that they have that extensibility, not just across their own on-premise environment, but can extend that to VMware Cloud Foundation is an important, valuable addition."

Josh Lee, director of sales for Nanuet, N.Y.-based Dell EMC and VMware partner VirtuIT Systems, said the two companies are answering the market demand of wanting fewer tools and less complexity in their environment.

"Specifically around VxRail Manager and vCenter, our customers are always asking for less tools. So the more things that can be put into vCenter, which for most customers is their top data center management platform, and tighter integration is great for our customers and even better for us," said Lee. "This all further proves the point that if you're an existing VMware customer, that Dell EMC should be the first choice for the hardware implementation because of this extremely tight integration with VMware."

The enhanced VxRail now allows extensibility to public cloud providers such as VMware Cloud on AWS and multi-cloud container services like Pivotal Software. Dell EMC also lowered the entry point to allow customers to start with a two-node VxRail cluster instead of the previously required three.

Dell EMC is also partnering with VMware on Project Dimension, which is a managed service offering on VMware Cloud on AWS and for on-premise for remote edge location. Customers now can use VxRail with VMware Site Recovery for push-button failover to VMware Cloud on AWS for disaster recovery.

"We do have real world examples of customers building out HCI infrastructure and then using AWS for disaster recovery purposes," said VirtuIT's Lee. "It's a good move for them. It's pricey, but it's a way for them to have alignment between AWS and Dell EMC."

Dell EMC also unveiled at VMworld Europe today its new VxBlock Central software that provides converged awareness, automation and analytics to simplify daily converged infrastructure operations. VxBlock is the Dell EMC's converged infrastructure flagship solution integrated with VMware.

"This VxBlock Central automation software is at the heart of everything because it radically simplified operations from the analytics awareness perspective and has strong hooks into vRealize," said Siegal. "For example, customers can build cloud service blueprints with vRealize and have awareness of the converged infrastructure underneath."

VxBlock Central includes a single unified user interface for accessing VxBlock System information in real time and an integrated launch point to VMware vRealize Orchestrator for automating daily operational tasks while also providing an easy way to manage VxBlock storage capacity, said Siegal. The integration between VxBlock Central and VMware vRealize Suite provides a foundation for Infrastructure-as-a-Service and a simplified path to implementing a multi-cloud operations model on VxBlock systems. Solution providers can also now purchase the VxBlock 1000 as part of the Dell EMC Cloud Marketplace.

Partners said the new Dell EMC and VMware integrations will allow them to accelerate innovation, simplify operations and speed up transformation initiatives. With applications and data increasingly being distributed across edge locations, core data centers, and multi-cloud environments, partners say a simplified hyper-converged solution through tighter Dell EMC and VMware integrate is key.

"The theme of automation -- to [VMware CEO] Pat Gelsinger's strategy to ruthless automate everything -- the SmartFabric and the integration of automation sweeping across the solution set really points to the power of software-defined, but also the opportunity to improve the speed of innovation and adaptability through automation," said Davenport's McCormick. "Having the latest Dell EMC and VMware innovations come out together, simplifies the message to the end user. From a channel perspective, it allows us to step into an engagement with the benefits of all of that integration."

In a recent interview with CRN, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell said the integration between the two vendors is at an all-time high. VMware is majority owned by Dell Technologies.

"You'll continue to see the collaboration advance. VMware has done a great job in enabling and preparing for the multi-cloud world, and obviously it's a very important part of Dell Technologies," said Michael Dell. "Partners and customers like and appreciate that we're bringing them a complete solution."