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Dell's new converged play PowerOne: It's a bit like VxBlock, but without all the Cisco gubbins

It's Dell all the way down with subscription payment models

Dell's new PowerOne converged infrastructure platform will be sold under a subscription and via a metered pricing arrangement that it has called Technology on Demand.

PowerOne is a rack-level product that includes Dell PowerEdge MX servers, PowerSwitch and SmartFabric networking, PowerMax storage, PowerProtect secondary (backup) storage, and VMware virtualization. It's like a pure Dell version of the Dell-Cisco VxBlock, which uses Cisco networking and servers.

We asked Dell if the Dell-plus-Cisco VxBlock product line continues alongside PowerOne and a spokesperson said it did: "PowerOne represents an expansion of our portfolio of integrated infrastructure systems. We remain committed to VxBlock as a complementary part of our offerings... PowerOne extends our offerings to simplify IT operations for customers with an all-Dell EMC preference."

We also asked if PowerOne could be considered a replacement for the Dell EMC Ready Stack CI system.

"Not a replacement," said Dell, "Ready Stack is a set of validated designs for those who seek to build their own infrastructure solutions based on flexible options of Dell EMC components. PowerOne takes this to another level, delivered as an all-in-one autonomous system, with all Dell EMC components, that is pre-engineered, factory built and managed holistically as one solution. We will continue to offer both approaches – along with VxBlock – as part of our integrated infrastructure portfolio."

PowerOne Navigator

The PowerOne system partially automates previously manual operations such as setting up a VMware cluster with a PowerOne Navigator feature. This is described as an automation engine that uses Kubernetes and Ansible. There are three applications; Launch Assist, Life-Cycle Assist and Expansion Assist.

Launch Assist performs the VMware cluster setup, and Life-Cycle Assist can create a SAN fabric and Expansion Assist auto-configures when compute, storage or networking resources are expanded. Dell said PowerOne Navigator forms part of its development of autonomous systems.

Dell's Jon Siegal, veep of product marketing for networking and solutions, said in a briefing that the idea is for admin staff to manage by identifying outcomes rather than go through multi-step manual procedures. In an echo of a Nutanix strategy, he also said the idea is to help make infrastructure invisible.

No configuration details have been made available.

On my ToD

Technology on Demand (ToD) is a consumption-based set of payment models. It applies to  Dell equipment deployed as user kit (endpoints), in edge locations and data centres and as cloud infrastructure. The latter category refers to converged and hyperconverged products, including PowerOne and VxRail.

There are three consumption models: pay as you grow; flex on demand with per-month metering, enabling elastic capacity that grows or shrinks; and data centre utility, meaning a customised pay-per-use environment across the entire (Dell) IT infrastructure.

These come with a services threesome: ProSupport, ProDeploy and Endpoint and Infrastructure managed services.

ToD applies to three so-called full stacks: Dell Technologies (hybrid) Cloud, Dell Technologies (end-user) Unified Workspace and Engineered Workload Solutions. There are EWS for Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, VDI, high-performance computing and other applications. The Dell Technologies Cloud and Unified Workspace have integrated VMware components.

All the mainstream storage system suppliers are developing subscription-based services, such as HPE, with Greenlake, Nutanix, and Pure Storage. It involves a change from customers paying upfront for purchases to paying instead a per-period consumption fee.

If customers switch to subscription payments quickly then a supplier's revenues could take a hit, as higher upfront payments are replaced by lower consumption-based payments. This pattern has already affected Nutanix's revenues.

PowerOne systems will be globally available from 22 November. ®

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