• Tech Refresh-driven Infrastructure Evolution,
    Courtesy of Dell EMC VxBlock Systems

    Understanding VxBlock Systems Use Cases

    By Terri McClure, ESG Senior Analyst
    September 2017
    This ESG White Paper was commissioned by Dell EMC and is distributed under license from ESG.

    Executive Summary:

    IT is under increasing pressure to operate in an agile fashion, meaning this group must develop and stand up applications faster, while operating more efficiently. Converged infrastructure, which provides IT with fully tested and integrated building blocks of compute, networking, and storage resources (and in many cases, virtualization, too), plays a key role in enabling IT teams with the agility they strive to attain. In fact, when ESG surveyed IT professionals who have deployed converged infrastructure platforms, 83% of these users said that converged infrastructure has made their IT environment more agile, with nearly one in four saying it has made the environment significantly more agile (see Figure 1).

    FIGURE 1:

    Converged Infrastructure’s Impact on IT Organization’s Agility

    Has converged infrastructure technology made your IT organization more agile? (Percent of respondents, N=275)

    infrastructure technology

    84% cited improvements in agility

    Given these results, IT infrastructure architects and managers are broadly rethinking their overall infrastructure strategy. When ESG surveyed IT professionals with knowledge of their long-term infrastructure plans and asked what types of systems they would run the bulk of their applications on five years out, 45% said CI—while another 12% are still evaluating technologies. This is a significant shift from 2015 when ESG asked the same question and only 30% believed that CI would be their primary platform five years out. Those saying they would follow a more traditional, best-of-breed infrastructure approach dropped from 57% in 2015 to 29% in 2017.

    One thing is clear from these results: As IT departments are undergoing tech refresh cycles, it is no longer business as usual. Converged infrastructure has significant momentum in the data center and beyond. Dell EMC, a category pioneer in CI, is helping to drive the change with VxBlock Systems.

    Brief Overview of the Converged Infrastructure Market

    More than half of the respondents in ESG’s recent on-premises infrastructure trends research reported that they now use converged infrastructure (CI) somewhere within their environment. Converged infrastructure is defined by ESG as an integrated computing platform that combines standalone x86 compute, storage, network, and virtualization technologies, oftentimes from different vendors, into a single rack, providing a turnkey configuration and deployment experience (i.e., fully configured, racked, cabled, and tested). Components scale independently, resource pooling is typically at the server layer, and these solutions often include a unified management interface for all components.

    The converged infrastructure technology segment is growing fast—for good reason. There is tremendous value in buying a prepackaged, pretested solution. Those converged infrastructure users surveyed by ESG most cite improved scalability, simplified management, improved TCO, and an increased ability to keep system software updated and quickly apply security patches as benefits (see Figure 2). Looking at the benefits realized by CI users, it comes down to CI playing an important role in helping IT streamline operations, increase agility, and drive toward greater operational efficiency.

    Asset

    FIGURE 2:

    Top Benefits Realized from Converged Infrastructure

    What have been the most significant benefits your organization has realized by deploying a converged infrastructure technology solution(s)? (Percent of respondents, N=275, five responses accepted)

    infrastructure benefits

    Dell EMC VxBlock Systems

    Many vendors offer converged infrastructure solutions in the market today, but Dell EMC takes its converged infrastructure one step further than most. The key components that differentiate Dell EMC VxBlock Systems are its approach to lifecycle management, its Release Certification Matrix (RCM), and its true, single source experience for a multi-source product.

    icons Services

    Factory integration and configuration:

    These features allow the entire system to be integrated and shipped from the factory, ready to be deployed within hours of arriving at a customer’s site. VxBlock Systems integrate compute, storage, network, and virtualized technologies into one turnkey solution. These systems are engineered, manufactured, deployed, supported, and sustained as one, offering complete lifecycle management and removing the burden from the customer in order to make deployment simple and low risk.

    icons Sync

    Lifecycle management:

    Dell EMC’s Lifecycle Assurance is a program designed to ensure operational efficiency throughout the lifecycle of its converged infrastructure systems. It leverages Dell EMC’s extensive internal testing resources, support network, and Vision software to take the time and risk out of system upgrades.

    Dell EMC Vision Intelligent Operations is software that comes embedded in Dell EMC VxBlock Systems to provide health and lifecycle management. The software delivers information that enables organizations to easily maintain a healthy and up-to-date environment that is fully optimized and secure. Dell EMC Vision operates in three key areas:

    icons Doctors Bag

    Keep infrastructure healthy:
    Vision provides fast insight about workload
    and system health and utilization, enabling IT
    to proactively maintain operating level
    objectives and service level agreements.

    icons Speedometer

    Keep infrastructure stable:
    The insight provided by Vision enables IT to
    upgrade system firmware and software releases
    with less effort and risk, and without
    interrupting application workloads.

    icons Security Checked

    Keep infrastructure Secure:
    Vision allows IT to quickly address security
    issues,takes only minutes (versus hours,
    days, or weeks) to pinpoint and eliminate
    vulnerabilities, and helps maintain a
    stronger security posture daily.

    Converged health management reports on and visualizes the health of Dell EMC converged and hyperconverged systems, including the current state of each component (compute, network, storage, and virtualization). The intelligence of the software, which visualizes system inventory and relationships, including workloads and their underlying infrastructure, enables faster root cause analysis as well as more proactive performance and capacity management.

    icons Report Card.png

    Release Certification Matrix (RCM) compliance management:

    This component simplifies the upgrade process of Dell EMC VxBlock Systems by automating and eliminating common steps of the infrastructure firmware and software upgrade process. The ongoing software updates provide Cisco HCL compatibility and keep the system updated to the latest release of a component within the system. Dell EMC Vision software runs compliance assessments on the systems to identify where updates are needed, provides direct access to updates (i.e., new RCMs and patches) housed on Dell EMC’s customer support website, and downloads only the updates that are required.

    Even though some components of VxBlock Systems are from Cisco while others are from Dell EMC, because VxBlock systems are engineered, manufactured, deployed, supported, and sustained as one, customers get a single-source experience, from procurement through support. This truly differentiates VxBlock systems from many of the reference architecture-based CI systems on the market today.

    Thanks to the RCM and lifecycle management process, users have a reduced risk of security breaches because security patches can be better kept up to date. And because of the single source experience, users see both a faster time to deploy and faster time to resolution when problems are encountered.

    VxBlock Systems Use Cases

    Dell EMC commissioned ESG to interview six pre-sales systems architects to understand the drivers behind VxBlock System adoption, as well as how VxBlock Systems have been adopted. In summary, interviews broadly validated Dell EMC’s approach to the market, especially the value in RCM and lifecycle management, since these components help reduce risk and speed time to deployment.

    We found that many VxBlock System users are undergoing tech refreshes and, while doing so, are taking the opportunity to consolidate workloads and infrastructure onto VxBlock Systems.

    icons Time Span

    Financial Services Company Needs an Active/Active Environment, Fast!

    All About Speed

    The team faced a short timeline to be up and running with the new environment, and a multimillion dollar fine if it didn’t meet said timeline. Within 47 days from PO, the environment was app deployment ready.

    The team faced a short timeline to be up and running with the new environment, and a multimillion dollar fine if it didn’t meet said timeline. Within 47 days from PO, the environment was app deployment ready.

    icons ATM

    Retail Bank Uses Tech Refresh to Consolidate and Save

    Shifting the IT Role

    The team has leveraged the VxBlock System and added Dell Technologies Pivotal technology so it can offer both IaaS and PaaS services to the development team. Now, IT personnel are consumers of the environment rather than builders.

    The team has leveraged the VxBlock System and added Dell Technologies Pivotal technology so it can offer both IaaS and PaaS services to the development team. Now, IT personnel are consumers of the environment rather than builders.

    icons Courthouse

    Global Law Firm Streamline Billing for Competitive Advantage

    TCO Savings and Solution Longevity

    The customer built a TCO model and determined that the platform would keep the environment up and running longer, enable it to standardize, and reduce OpEx because fewer IT employees were required to run the environment.

    The customer built a TCO model and determined that the platform would keep the environment up and running longer, enable it to standardize, and reduce OpEx because fewer IT employees were required to run the environment.

    The Bigger Truth

    CI has significant market momentum, and nobody has been more serious about it or in the CI game longer than Dell EMC: It is a category pioneer and its experience shows. Dell EMC VxBlock Systems, and the processes it has around support and lifecycle management, are market differentiators. Dell EMC customers are transforming their infrastructure through tech refreshes via VxBlock Systems.

    Common themes throughout ESG’s interviews with Dell EMC customers included speed, agility, and the efficiency that Dell EMC delivers with VxBlock System as a driving factor of the ultimate purchase decision, even when Dell EMC was quoting higher prices.

    One large Australian retailer did the math and found that VxBlock Systems offered the company a 27% TCO improvement over its existing solution, which was buying servers, storage, and networking separately. When it came time for a tech refresh of its SAP, database, and VDI environment, Dell EMC came in with an assembled turnkey solution, while the incumbent vendor was still assembling kit. Patch management played a key role and has changed the role of IT. New IT discussions are centered around workloads, sizing, and forward-looking rather than reactive maintenance (what patches are coming and when).

    In one financial services company example, the business was telling IT it wasn’t agile enough, meaning that the six-to-nine-month cycle to bring up new applications was just too long. Implementing a VxBlock System brought that down to weeks. With the ability of the VxBlock System to support mixed workloads and multiple types of applications, and with data protection built in, customers like the agility it offers. Also, operationally, the RCM and lifecycle management reduces risk and drives operational efficiency (eliminates risk associated with change and drives time to value).

    In these interviews as well as ESG research, it’s clear that CI plays a core role in data center transformation, allowing IT to become more agile and responsive. Dell EMC’s mature, well thought-out approach to delivering CI brings significant customer value.

    Source: ESG Survey, Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructure Trends, April 2017.

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