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Equinix Metal adds bite-sized Dell storage

Equinix Metal added more storage options with Dell PowerStore, as well as adding HCI with VxRail and data protection with Data Domain Virtual Edition.

Equinix Metal added smaller options of storage and data protection from Dell Technologies and will sell it as a service.

A division of Equinix, Metal is an infrastructure-as-a-service offering with virtual bare-metal services. It provides customers with compute, memory, networking and connectivity to public clouds, but it lacked storage. By partnering with Dell, Equinix Metal can fill the gap -- including a persistent storage option -- for customer data. Rather than purchase entire racks, Equinix customers can purchase storage and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) in smaller, bite-sized increments.

"We're not a storage company," said Zachary Smith, managing director of Equinix Metal. "We're an infrastructure business. We look to enable kind of an as-a-service appliance model."

The news, which includes managed storage, HCI and data protection services, reflects deepening ties between the two companies. Earlier this year, Equinix began offering Dell Apex, a cloud services and storage-as-a-service product, to customers through its colocation facilities.

It also reflects changes in how customers are accessing storage, according to Jeff Vogel, an analyst at Gartner. Instead of storage existing purely on premises, companies are adopting hybrid cloud storage models, which combine on-premises storage with the cloud. A hybrid cloud strategy can be attractive to customers that don't want to move mission-critical workloads to the public cloud.

"Equinix becomes the alternative data center, if you will, to how I evolved my physical data center attributes into more of a hybrid cloud type of approach," Vogel said.

More storage options with Dell

Equinix Metal offers bare-metal servers to developers and IT users. The servers are a basic compute that can connect customers to Equinix's fabric, a software-defined connection to public cloud providers, as well as other services, but the company lacked persistent storage, Smith said.

"We really struggled because we didn't have any storage offerings," Smith said. "So, we went on a journey to start bringing storage appliances [to metal]."

Equinix Metal started that journey first with Pure, when it introduced Pure Storage on Equinix Metal in 2021. Now it's working with Dell Technologies to expand its offerings with PowerStore on Equinix Metal, VxRail on Equinix Metal and Data Domain Virtual Edition (DDVE) on Equinix Metal.

For storage, Metal is offering Dell PowerStore, a midrange, all-flash, all-NVMe array. Metal is offering PowerStore in 25 TB increments, as opposed to a minimum rack solution that Apex is sold in, Smith said.

Metal is also offering HCI in the form of VxRail, a combination of Dell PowerEdge servers and VMware vSAN. There is a basic configuration and three workload-specific combinations, Smith said. This brings smaller starting points for customers that look to use VxRail but don't need an entire rack.

"We found that a lot of customers are looking for that second location -- a regional location or an edge location -- that they need a smaller bite size," he said. "That's where we're helping to fill the gap."

Metal has broadened its storage options by partnering with Dell and Pure, but it is also looking to help protect data stored.

Data protection for Metal

Equinix Metal is also offering DDVE, the software-only version of the Data Domain backup product, Smith said, giving customers disaster recovery and data protection.

DDVE runs on Dell PowerEdge R750 servers in Equinix data centers. The data protection product will enable backups to the public cloud while reducing the cost of recovery due to it being in a neutral place by the public clouds.

Vogel said that while Equinix is offering basic cloud services, it isn't a cloud service provider. Equinix will have to execute on providing enterprise-class services and maintain them, or make sure that it has the correct support arrangement with Dell in place.

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