Dell Launches XC v.2 Web-Scale Converged Appliances

By Pedro Hernandez

Dell is wasting no time in building up momentum for its XC series of Web-scale converged storage appliances.

The Round Rock, Texas-based IT giant today launched the new Dell XC Series XC630 and XC730xd, following the November release of the company's first XC systems. Asked about the quick turnaround – the new hardware starts shipping on March 3 in the U.S. -- Travis Vigil, executive director of product management for Dell Storage, told InfoStor that the company wanted to "get the product out as fast as we possibly could" and help expand its software-defined storage portfolio.

The arrival of Dell's thirteenth-generation (13g) PowerEdge server technology also helped speed things along. Running atop the PowerEdge R630 (XC630) and R730xd (XC730xd) server platforms, based on Intel "Haswell" Xeon processors, is software from Nutanix, San Jose, Calif.-based a server virtualization specialist.

Nutanix's technology pools capacity, from both solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs), across all nodes, providing a virtualization-friendly shared-storage foundation for mixed-workload and cloud-scale environments. Vigil said that Dell partnered with Nutanix because of its technology because it emerged as both an agile and innovative startup in the hyper-converged space, not to mention a little "natural chemistry" between the companies.

"We looked across the industry, and at the end of the day, what stuck out the most to us with the Nutanix solution, is that it was very mature in terms of the capabilities offered and the amount of time on the market," Vigil said.

In the second-generation Dell XC appliances, Nutanix's software can leverage newer PowerEdge hardware to provide speedier application and storage performance, plus several more possible configurations from the initial five offered with the first-generation units.

Aimed at virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), server virtualization, test and development and private cloud environments, a single-node, 1U XC630-10 system can be outfitted with up to a 16-core, 3.6 GHz Xeon processor, 10 drives (SSD and HDD) and 768 GB of system memory. The higher-end XC730xd-12 and XC730xd-12 are 2U appliances that support up to 12 and 24 drives, respectively. All models offer VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V as hypervisor options.

Early demand for the XC converged storage platform has come primarily from "larger midmarket companies," said Vigil. With both 1U and 2U systems, a handful of processor options and a wide range of SSD and HDD configurations, Vigil said that the appliances – along with new, lower cost and shorter term Dell support contracts – allows businesses to tailor the hardware to fit their needs, from VDI to big data processing.

Although Vigil stopped short of revealing when XC v.2's successor would ship -- and if it would follow Dell's rapid-fire release schedule for v.2 – he teased that his group is already working on some enhancements. Upcoming features include Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) support and an "all-flash version of the product," he said.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

This article was originally published on February 26, 2015