Dell Set To Ship OEM Nutanix-Based Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliances

Dell Wednesday unveiled the first of its expected hyper-converged infrastructure solutions based on the Nutanix software stack.

The new Dell XC Series of Web-scale converged appliances, the first models of which are slated to start shipping next week, are the first fruits of an OEM relationship under which Dell is pre-integrating the Nutanix software with its own PowerEdge servers.

News of the pending shipments of the Dell XC hyper-converged infrastructure appliances came at the Dell World conference being held this week in Austin, Texas.

[Related: Dell Extends Nexenta Software-Defined Storage To VMware EVO: RAIL]

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There's huge pent-up demand among Dell customers for the Dell XC Series appliances, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and longtime Dell channel partner.

"People have been waiting for the Dell version, but they can't place orders until Nov. 11," Tanenhaus told CRN. "And we can't sell the Nutanix versions, based on Supermicro servers, to those customers and expect to later expand their infrastructure with the Dell models. We know that, with the announcement of availability, our phone lines will be really busy for the next few weeks."

Dell plans to initially ship five models with fixed configurations, each featuring two Intel CPUs, two or four 400-GB or 800-GB SSDs, four to 10 hard drives, and two Gbit Ethernet ports, said Travis Vigil, executive director of product management for Dell Storage.

Two of the models are targeted at building highly scalable scale-out private clouds or remote branch-office infrastructures, while three models are optimized for virtual desktop infrastructures, Vigil told CRN.

"They are certified for VMware and Citrix," he said. "We will also have reference architectures and software bundles for VMware, Citrix and Dell's Quest Software vWorkspace applications."

Dell also has started reselling Nutanix's original hyper-converged infrastructure appliances, but not many, Vigil said.

"We had it in our reseller channel, but most customers were focused on our XC Series because of the single point of support and service we offer," he said. "We sold a handful of the Nutanix devices."

Hyper-converged infrastructure is a huge market with plenty of room for both Dell and Nutanix, said Nikita Makheshwari, product marketing manager for Nutanix.

"Nutanix sees a $50 billion total addressable market," Makheshwari told CRN. "There's a lot of opportunities for Dell and Nutanix and our channel partners to reach it."

NEXT: Dell, Nutanix Partner On Support And Deal Registration

The five models Dell initially is offering with the Nutanix software are similar to Nutanix's line, Makheshwari said. However, the Nutanix models, based on Supermicro server hardware, include two to four nodes per 2U of rack space. The Dell models, based on the Dell PowerEdge servers, offer one node per 2U of space.

"The Dell hardware platform was the best hardware platform Dell offered that met the requirements for all five models," she said. "Dell's currently looking at higher-density hardware. However, the current Dell models has options for additional memory above what Nutanix provides."

Dell provides the first layer of customer support for the Dell-branded versions of the hyper-converged infrastructure, Makheshwari said. Dell can contact Nutanix as needed to escalate support, she said.

Venugopal Pai, vice president of alliances and business development at Nutanix, told CRN that Dell and Nutanix have agreed on a deal registration framework to prevent channel conflict.

"Our ultimate intent is to determine how Nutanix partners with Dell, and how Dell partners with Nutanix," Pai said. "Nutanix is expanding its market with Dell, which is spreading awareness of Nutanix and its technology. Our deal registration lets both companies drive the market."

Under their agreement, Dell's channel partners will register potential deals through Dell, Pai said. Dell, in turn, will work with Nutanix to register the deal.

"As deals come to fruition, the deal registration program kicks in to make sure there's no interference between Dell partners, Dell direct and Nutanix partners," he said. "If there is a joint channel partner, the partner has the flexibility to go with either vendor. So if it's an existing Dell customer, it's easy to offer the Dell solution. If the customer is ambivalent, the partner can make the best choice for that customer."

Steve Kaplan, Nutanix's vice president of channel and strategic sales, told CRN that Dell for now is not offering OEM versions of Nutanix's 6000-series storage-heavy nodes or its 7000-series GPU-centric models.