In an effort to broaden its customer base Dell is now entering previously uncharted territory. Where in the past individuals and organizations could only buy the pieces of their infrastructure one at a time from Dell, there is now a new offering on the table. The new Converged Blade Data Center puts Dell into the arena with new competitors such as Hitachi and the upper tiers IBM.
The Active System 800 is similar in nature to Hitachi’s UCP (Unified Computing Platform), in that it can be ordered pre-configured format or it can be customized to the end user’s needs. This platform leverages the latest in Dell’s arsenal of 12th generation blades mixed with their new Force10 switching product line and EqualLogic PS iSCSI array’s.
Also, with Dell’s purchase of RNA Networks, the ability to pool the integrated flash arrays as a single giant cache accessible by all nodes in a cluster will rolled out to these systems next year. This will the clusters to be snapshotted and backed up as a single storage device.
Another key feature is what dell calls the I/O Aggregator. This allows all of the I/O coming out of the blades and to be pumped up in aggregated form to a top of rack switch. This flattens the network and reduces the number of hops it takes to get from one node to another in a set of racks.
Some of the best uses for a system such as this would be medium to large VDI implementations, private clouds, and other high performance computing situations. This new product line broadens the playing field and gives Dell the ability to compete in more markets. Couple systems such as this with their recent acquisition Wyse (a leading provider of thin client solutions) and you have an amazingly fast system built for virtualizing desktops. I think Dell could corner the desktop visualization market if they could bring Citrix into the fold and do a larger scale VDI in a box.