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Dell to ship all-NVMe version of VxRail for Project Monterey

Dell plans to ship an all-NVMe version of VxRail that will be the first hyper-converged system to work with VMware's Project Monterey, scheduled for release this summer.

LAS VEGAS -- Hoping to continue momentum for its hyper-converged infrastructure franchise, Dell will ship later this month an all-NVMe, single-socket VxRail system that will be the first to work with VMware's Project Monterey.

The upcoming system will feature Nvidia's next-generation GPUs and density emulators, and will target users who need a high-performance computing platform to run data-intensive applications. The system ascribes to the non-volatile memory express standard, a protocol for accessing storage that provides higher performance over systems ascribing to legacy protocols.

The all-NVMe platform will allow Project Monterey to use data processing units (DPUs) to increase VxRail's overall data processing speed. Project Monterey, previewed by VMware in August 2020, is a re-architected version of VMware vSphere that allows IT to offload certain application services to specialized chips, such as DPUs. Transferring such services could free up to 25% of a CPU's capacity, according to Dell officials.

VMware is expected to debut Project Monterey on the upcoming Dell EMC VxRail system later this year at its annual VMworld conference.

VxRail aids expansion plans

The system updates come as Dell reports a steady rise of VxRail sales over the past three years. In 2019, 9,600 customers used the product, and by early 2022, that number increased to just over 15,000, according to Dell.

Some of those customers shared their experience with VxRail during a panel discussion at the Dell Technologies World conference here this week.

John Beck, Vanguard's compute and storage infrastructure group leader, moved parts of the company's on-premises data center out to multiple remote facilities to get the financial institution out of the data center business. He credits VxRail and Dell's strategic guidance in helping him accomplish that plan.

"Since 2017, we've expanded our offices around the globe -- something we needed to do to accommodate a really demanding trading cycle in financial markets that extends beyond the 24 hours," Beck said.

Vanguard now has offices not only in the U.S., but in Canada, Mexico and Australia.

There was a clear trend that as the number of stores grew, so did the complexities of the technologies we wanted to apply in storage. And adding another server to a stack of servers was not a great roadmap.
Ford DonaldDirector of engineering, Kohl's North America

In addition to guidance from Dell, Beck attributed the plan's success to a team made of largely younger people who are in tune with Vanguard's needs and who could quickly point out the solution that would be best for the environment -- namely, hyper-converged infrastructure.

What motivated Ford Donald, director of engineering at Kohl's in North America, to deploy VxRail four years ago was the rapid growth of the company's stores, which now number more than 1,100.

"There was a clear trend that as the number of stores grew, so did the complexities of the technologies we wanted to apply in storage," Donald said. "Just adding another server to a stack of servers was not a great roadmap."

But applying a predictable set of technologies that work in concert with Dell VxRail made it easier to open stores more efficiently, he said.

"VxRail enabled us to build up a stack and quickly populate it with a variety of VMs that could do the job," Ford said.

SMC Corporation, a manufacturer of pneumatic control devices, initially bought VxRail and set up two nodes primarily for development and testing purposes, according to Mike Loggins, global vice president of IT at SMC. Over the past few years, he has focused on making the 70 different companies that make up SMC function like one organization. His first move was to get a better handle on the infrastructure.

"We spent a great deal of time doing that," Loggins said. "We found that central to that effort is building out private cloud locations around the globe that would enable us to do consolidation. This would make it easier to accomplish that."

SMC uses the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) in concert with VxRail to better leverage public and colocation clouds, and to implement a "more frictionless" effort to bring together a wide range of disparate systems.

"I knew we weren't able to buy enough servers to go down the path we were on," Loggins said. "VCF gives you that Lego block feeling of being able to just plug it in and give you that extra capacity for processing and storage in order to start consolidation."

One IT admin who works for a financial institution in Nevada said that while earlier versions of VxRail didn't suit his needs, he is encouraged by the prospect of the upcoming all-NVMe system.

"Early on, when [VxRail] was announced, it didn't address the compute needs for the workloads I had. It was too narrowly focused," said the IT admin, who requested anonymity. "But they have broadened out the use cases for it. With the added compute power, it has my attention now."

As Editor at Large with TechTarget's News Group, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals.

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