Dell embraces software defined storage

Liam Halpin, Dell

20 February 2015

Enterprise needs a low risk way of taking advantage of advances in technologies, such as software defined, that respect their needs for stability and governance. They need a way to bridge between legacy systems such as mainframes, to enable mobility and cloud computing, and take advantage of big data.

Software defined storage is a major element of these developments and Dell is taking a different approach in the market, according to Irish country manager, Liam Halpin.

Halpin told TechPro, that in order to take advantage of the emerging technologies such as software define storage and networking, enterprise had to go with ‘white box’ manufacturers, introducing risk, or due to governance requirements, often putting it out of reach.

Halpin said that Dell, through its XC web-scale appliance leveraging Nutanix technology, and its use of Nexenta management technologies, was eliminating risk for enterprise in providing these agile, flexible, web-scaling technologies certified on its hardware with enterprise grade support.

“Dell is taking a very different approach to others in the market place,” said Halpin.

Evolutionary change
There has been evolutionary infrastructure change, he explained, from an application on a server, through virtualisation, and application abstraction, to the converged infrastructure stack.

“As we support our own converged infrastructure, which is based on traditional VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V, we are also supporting the software defined environment. That’s where the Nutanix and Nexenta proposition come into play,” said Halpin.

“We are also supporting Microsoft Storage Spaces and several other software defined areas.”

“Similarly in the network space, as we release new network switches, we are also releasing software defined switches.”

Halpin said that where Dell is typically seeing software defined coming into play is with customers who have very large estates and are looking to make significant savings in terms of networking or traditional virtualisation.

“Our approach is that we are providing our technology for that evolutionary type infrastructure as well as promoting the revolutionary piece.”

The evolutionary path may be seen as less risky, but many start-ups are eschewing traditional architectures and deriving significant advantage as a result.

“If you look at some of the web-scale companies, global start-ups, they have been basing their entire data centre footprints on revolutionary, as opposed to evolutionary, technology. Very few web-scale companies would use storage area network (SAN) technologies in their data centres,” reports Halpin.

He cited major cloud service providers, who use highly virtualised, software defined environments.

Compellant experience
He points out that Dell has significant experience in this area, through its Compellant acquisition, whose solutions, he asserts, have been SD from the start.

Equally, said Halpin, a challenge that customers have encountered had has been proprietary software stacks. Network switches, for example, he said, often have a significant vendor lock-in factor.

“Customers still need the physical infrastructure, but they want to abstract the operating of that infrastructure away from the original equipment manufacturer. That’s where software defined comes in.”

Software defined overcomes the rip and replace cycle, allowing users to take advantage of new developments.

“Users are asking ‘what level of flexibility can I achieve with software defined?’” said Halpin.


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