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Dell to ship 2nd wave of XC Series hyper-converged appliances

Dell plans to ship the second version of its XC Series of hyper-converged appliances next week, just four months after getting the first wave of products out the door in November.

The XC Series appliances bundle Dell’s hardware, Nutanix’s software, and VMware’s ESXi or Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor technology. Version 2.0 uses the 4.1 release of the Nutanix software, which aggregates and manages the clustered server and direct-attached storage resources.

Version 2.0 of the XC Series appliances will be the first to run Dell’s 13th generation PowerEdge server technology with the latest Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product family. Other differences between the first and second editions include flexible options for the numbers and capacities of solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard-disk drives (HDDs), processor cores and speeds, and DIMM and memory configurations.

With the second wave of XC products, Dell also plans to introduce next week a new 1U model based on Dell’s PowerEdge R630 server technology. The more compact XC630 will support more virtual desktop users in half the rack space of Dell’s original XC720xd at a lower cost, according to Travis Vigil, executive director of product management for Dell Storage.

Dell will also release two new higher density 2U appliances based on its PowerEdge R730xd servers. The XC730xd-12 has a dozen 3.5-inch drive slots and options for two to four 200 GB, 400 GB or 800 GB SSDs and four to eight 4 TB HDDs. The XC730xd-24 has two dozen 2.5-inch drive slots and can handle two to four SSDs and a minimum of four and maximum of 20 HDDs of 1 TB capacity.

“With the XC730xd offering 60% more storage than the predecessor version, we think we’ll probably see more interest in big data type workloads,” said Vigil.

Dell product literature claims the XC730xd-12 can run storage-heavy Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, data warehouse and big data workloads, and the XC730xd-24 is suitable for performance-intensive Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle OLTP workloads.

The XC630’s spec sheet says the product targets compute and performance-intensive virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), test and development, private cloud and virtual server workloads. The 1U XC630-10 has 10 2.5-inch drive slots and can hold two to four SSDs at raw capacities of either 200 GB, 400 GB or 800 GB and four to eight 1 TB HDDs.

Vigil said there is no limit on the number of systems that can be clustered. He said a typical configuration ranges from three to 10 units, but he noted that Nutanix customers have clustered to upwards of 100 units.

All XC Series appliances are currently available only as hybrid storage configurations, but Vigil said plans call for an all-flash storage option this year. Dell also plans to add support for the open source KVM hypervisor this year, according to Vigil.

List pricing for the 1U XC630 starts at about $32,000, including the appliance, the Nutanix software, two 200 GB SATA SSD, four 1 TB HDDs and a one-year Dell ProSupport service contract. The starting list price for the 2U XC730xd is about $45,000 with two 200 GB SATA SSDs and four 4 TB HDDs and a one-year Dell support contract, according to a Dell spokesman.

“The official growth rate for these hyper-converged solutions, like we have with the XC Series, is an order of magnitude greater than what we’re seeing with traditional data center hardware spending,” said Vigil. “So, we’re very optimistic about the future here. We’re happy with the demand that we’ve seen so far.”

Dell also sells an appliance for VMware’s EVO:RAIL, which began shipping last fall. Dell’s software-defined storage offerings also include reference architectures for software from vendors such as Microsoft, Nexenta and Red Hat with its servers and storage.

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