A fair amount of the market confusion surrounding the merger of Dell and EMC is playing out in the hyperconverged appliance space this week. In advance of the actual merger, Dell this week announced it is reselling the entire portfolio of systems developed by VCE, a unit of EMC.
At the same time, Dell also announced upgrades to the Dell UX Series, a set of hyperconverged appliances based on systems from Nutanix. Those systems now support the Xeon E5-2600v4 processors, formerly code-named Broadwell. Unlike the VCE systems, the Dell UX Series supports VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Kernel-based Virtual Machines (KVMs), while the VCE platforms are optimized specifically for VMware.
At the same time, Dell was supporting the EVO:RAIL software that VMware provided to enable channel partners and their customers to build their own hyperconverged platforms. However, now that VMware has opted suddenly to mothball EVO:RAIL, Dell is offering customers that have built their own clusters an upgrade path using VMware Virtual SAN software running on Dell systems.
Travis Vigil, executive director of product management for the Dell Enterprise Solutions Group, said the company’s strategy basically comes down to betting on multiple horses in a hyperconverged systems market, which IDC analysts forecast will see a more than 60 percent compound annual growth rate, to reach almost $4 billion in sales through 2019.
Of course, for Dell partners that need to sell IT infrastructure into multiple virtual machine environments, it remains to be seen how attractive VCE platforms are. In the first place, many of them already have the option of reselling them via the VCE channel.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time before that VCE channel collapses into the Dell channel. But even then, the Dell UC Series powered by Nutanix provides a broader market opportunity. Of course, many solution providers will opt to resell appliances directly via the Nutanix channel program, versus sharing margins with Dell.
For Dell partners there are many things to like about the merger with EMC. Arguably, however, the overlap in the Dell hyperconvergence platforms may not be among them.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for more than 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.