ArticlesCommunity PerspectivesIT Transformation


Explosive Growth of Vblock, 2011-2016

VCE = The Virtual Computing Environment company, not VMware, Cisco, and EMC! “ Really!

Did you miss Part 1 of the Converged User Group’s article history series? Check it out here.

From its inception, VCE, and Vblock, has been a highly disruptive offering.  As such, it took some time for these disruptions to gain traction in the market and definitively answer the question, “Can they cross the Chasm?” (h/t Geoffrey Moore).

By early 2012, the case had been made for Vblock and significant traction had been gained within Fortune 100 companies, fueling explosive revenue growth.  From 2012 to 2015, VCE doubled revenues every year for three years, setting a record for the fastest company in IT to go from $0 – $1B in revenue.  VCE created the market for Converged Infrastructure and, at the time, was the thought and execution leader in that space.  In effect, VCE and Vblock were the Converged Infrastructure market.

The growth in and acceptance from customers allowed VCE to further invest in the platform.  The 300/700 series were introduced and delineated by the associated EMC storage array coupled with Cisco UCS compute.  Soon, the 500 series became important as the economics and reliability of flash-based storage systems were proven to be enterprise-grade reliable (XtremIO being the EMC flagship in this space).  Then, in March 2015, VxBlock was introduced, offering VMware NSX virtual networking capability alongside the already supported Cisco ACI virtual networking.

Throughout this period, VCE was balancing strict standardization with listening to customer requests and customer needs for variation/flexibility in their mission critical infrastructure.  A recurring question arose: “Where does the line for Lifecycle Management responsibility get drawn?”  Fully supported lifecycle management, with the Release Certification Matrix (RCM), was perhaps the keystone value proposition delivered by Vblock.  As customers adopted Vblock Systems and became comfortable placing workloads on them, more and more were purchased as customers embraced infrastructure standardization.

Managing these “Islands” of Vblock Systems at scale became a new challenge and pain point for customers.  These IT Transformation Visionaries quickly forgot how painful and complicated the care and feeding of traditional three-tier infrastructure was. They soon expected the ease of use and simplicity experienced with their first few Vblock Systems to continue as they scaled out to multiple and tens-of multiples of systems.  Additionally, key to the Vblock process was the collection of all required data for the Logical Configuration Survey (LCS), which defined the logical configuration of the Vblock.  As important as this information was for the build process, it was not designed to be repeatably collected from the same organization. This became a customer-raised opportunity to be addressed.

VCE made it a priority to simplify the management of multiple Vblocks for customers. For large scale data center deployments, connecting “Islands of Vblocks” into flexible pools of resources sparked the creation of the Vscale architecture. Vscale is a data center network-wide architecture, logically grouping Vblocks and other pools of IT resources into zones.  These zones are then managed under a common RCM (release certification matrix), thus alleviating many of the challenges of inter-data center management.

Concurrently, VCE attempted to create a software platform that simplified management of the Vblock elements into a single, easy to use, interface, known as VCE Vision.  VCE Vision leveraged systemwide REST APIs, with a focus on being management platform agnostic. Many of the features and functionality of VCE Vision were eventually incorporated into VxBlock Central.

Meanwhile, In the General IT Industry, Broader Movements…

Whilst the success of the Vblock product line can never be disputed, changes in the IT market meant that a competitive technology started to appear that had the potential to disrupt the new status quo of engineered systems: hyperconverged technology. The specific disruption was the virtualization of the storage layer and effectively, the introduction of a new class of storage product that was entirely software defined. The early name that was setting the pace was a small San Jose based startup called Nutanix. In response to Nutanix, VMware released its vSAN product, and followed in 2014 with their EVO:RAIL architecture – inviting vendors to build out a hardware solution combining vSAN, compute, and network coupled with the VMware hypervisor. This led to the creation of the EMC derived VSPEX Blue platform, which in turn led to the development of today’s industry and market share leader, VxRail.

These developments increasingly shifted the emphasis in Enterprise IT environments to thinking about the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which in turn was a response to the other more seismic shift that was happening across the broader industry: the rise and adoption of the public cloud as a replacement for on-premise infrastructure solutions.

AWS had established a highly credible cloud platform, which became the platform of choice for applications developed using native cloud principles – i.e. applications that were lightweight, developed using agile software methodologies, and increasingly designed to deliver a mobile experience. Frequent application updates were the norm, and app usage patterns were unpredictable or highly variable (think advertising during the World Cup, Olympics, or Superbowl).  All it took was a credit card to get your infrastructure up and running – no tickets, no ITIL, no red tape, and no waiting for your request.  True, your choice of configurations was more Henry Ford-esque (ala, “Any color you want, as long as it’s black”), but developers gladly traded choice for speed and ‘good enough.’  “Shadow IT” was emboldened and arguably spread like wildfire.

However, mission critical applications that required guaranteed performance SLAs, alongside bulletproof reliability and availability, were still the mainstay of on-premise solutions. Particularly Converged Infrastructure, as Hyperconverged had yet to prove it was capable of delivering the functionality needed to support these application requirements.  In the mission critical application environment, change was slow and carefully planned: ITIL was the established norm. Application updates were infrequent (“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could have been the mantra) and usage patterns stable and predictable.

The stark differences in the operating models gave rise to the term “bi-modal IT” (Source Gartner), and led to many IT organizations embarking on significant change programs with the specific aim of aligning resources to best support this bi-modal approach. By the time EMC acquired the assets, CPSD offerings were integrated into the Dell EMC portfolio.

In February 2018 Dell EMC launched the next evolution of Vblock, the VxBlock 1000, which introduced a system-wide architecture that supported levels of flexibility and configurations options. This included full RCM and lifecycle management benefits, previously never seen.

Bringing us to the present day, VxBlock 1000’s perpetual architecture facilitates the continual evolution of storage arrays in line with the latest products available, including unstructured data solutions such as Isilon.  VxBlock Central now provides the highest levels of insight and configurability, so that management of a VxBlock 1000 is as close to being delivered in one place as possible.

Vscale has evolved to a datacenter wide network architecture that encompasses support for all types of underlying infrastructure, allowing for the creation and lifecycle management of both converged and hyperconverged technologies. Standalone servers and storage pools can also be connected into a Vscale architecture – although for these standalone servers and storage pools the lifecycle management is performed separately.

At the time of writing, early 2021, the market for Cloud Infrastructure remains robust.  Many enterprises have taken the view that a Multi-Cloud approach is the optimal architecture for supporting both the traditional mission critical monolithic applications and new, cloud-native applications.  The final blog in this series will explore where we see future trends and, based on our experience, what lessons learned from the recent past show how current data center investments remain relevant and valuable.

This article was originally published by Converged User Group. Read more.

ArticlesCommunity PerspectivesIT Transformation

HISTORY OF CI, PART 1: VBLOCK (2009 – 2011)

This article was originally published by Converged User Group. Read more.

You’re likely well-versed in the many technical and business benefits of converged infrastructure (CI) and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)—you work with it every day. Last year, CI hit its 10-year milestone, and some of our members have been around CI for the whole time, helping to transform their IT shops as well as drive the growth of CI and HCI; other members may have only recently dipped their toes in the CI/HCI waters.

ArticlesCommunity Perspectives

Storytelling + Tech = Creating Emotion

“The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.”

—Fridtjof Nansen, Polar Explorer, 1861-1930

My two favorite subjects in school were math and history, and it is no surprise both have impacted my lifestyle and career each and every day. Mathematics fascinated me and ultimately led me to look at most situations in life as equations—multitudes of constants and variables that lead to a final product. Then, there is the path to quantum theory and beyond, but that is another deeply wild journey.

I had a history teacher that introduced me to the early explorers of unchartered Earth, such as Fridtjof Nansen and Ernest Shackleton, known for their expeditions to Greenland and Antarctica, that resulted in unique exploration innovations and techniques that inspired many explorers decades and centuries later, myself included.

Exploring Turns to Stories

I became fascinated with exploration that quickly led to an obsession to explore the most remote areas of the planet through mountaineering, skiing, and humanitarian and conservation work. The majority of my adult life has been spent exploring our world on major expeditions. My obsession with this lifestyle has taken me on over 85 expeditions across more than 100 countries to some of the most remote areas of the world—from negative 70 degrees in Siberia and Antarctica to the deepest sweltering jungles in Borneo and Guyana to restricted areas in Afghanistan and Yemen, and everyone in-between.

The best part of this lifestyle is being out in the wild places of the planet, but the second best part, and the most important, is bringing the stories home and sharing my experiences through photos and video content. Each expedition is unique and my hope in documenting the smallest details to the largest landscapes is to bring awareness to our world, create emotion, and ultimately to get people to care more for our planet.

Answer to an Equation

Each of my expeditions are all simply mathematical equations to me. I have been working to solve the “first-person view” equation for some time: how can I bring people as close to coming with me without actually going and how can I help them feel the experience from home? I found the answer through technology: capturing and sharing my adventures with and through Virtual Reality. Now people can put on a VR headset and actually see, hear, and feel like they are with me.

Through VR, people can experience standing next to polar bears in the arctic, where many feel the same emotions I felt—awe, wonder, a little fear, excitement. Their emotions leads to caring for our planet and hopefully they will start (or continue) do their part to make the world a better place.

Of course, none of this would be possible without a team to help me capture multiple angles, locations, and making the technology work in the most remote areas. I wouldn’t be able to capture these stories and share them with the world without teamwork and technology. The two Ts that lead to a successful expedition.

Tech that Brings the Stories to Life

Out in the field, I am using the highest quality equipment and tech to capture the stories, as well as at home I am editing on the best technology possible. I use the Dell Rugged devices to view, capture, and download VR footage, 8K content, and we rely 100% on that tech to not only survive, but to perform at the highest level we demand. If there is one theme for all of my equipment it is that it absolutely cannot fail, which would result in losing our storytelling imagery or the expedition not succeeding. In addition, I am also using the Dell Rugged products for satellite communications, GPS, mapping, logistics etc. that not only helps us accurately capture the precise geographical landscapes we’re in, but helps keeps me and the team safe so that people back home know exactly where we are and what we’re doing at all times.

Then of course, once back home there is the editing and creative challenge and journey to put the experience into story. Dell has the technology to enable the type of  editing and creating I need so others can have next-level experiences with these stories. The fast and precise processing wizardry on my Dell Precision suite brings VR and 3D footage to 8K content. This product suite neglects no detail, even down to the monitors and precise color and clarity needed for the best possible final cut.

I owe huge gratitude to the entire Dell team that make all of this possible! I also owe a thank you to my teachers to inspiring my curiosity to explore—without them, my life’s purpose equation “how do I bring the world to a single person through story?” would still only be just a dream.

The time is now! It is not only life, but the quality of this life! Dream big and live those dreams! Why ration passion?

This article originally appeared at Dell Client Community. Learn more. 

Workforce Transformation

The Silver Lining To Our New Reality? More Empathetic Workplaces

Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Dell Technologies Perspectives blog and can be found here.

By Anna Codrea-Rado, Contributor

Kelli Hodges doesn’t want her employees to talk to her about their work. Since the shelter-in-place order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dell Technologies’ director of commercial product marketing has been holding open video calls for her team at the end of each day. These meetings, however, aren’t status updates, they’re well-being check-ins.

Workforce Transformation

Trailblazers Special: Walter Isaacson Interviews Michael Dell

Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Dell Technologies Perspectives blog and can be found here.

When challenges arise, we often look to technology for answers. With that in mind, on this special episode of Trailblazers, Walter (virtually) sits down with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, for a one-on-one conversation about optimism about what things look like on the other side of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

IT Transformation

Can Robotics and the Cloud Rescue Our Recycling Industry?

Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Dell Technologies Perspectives blog and can be found here.

By Stephanie Walden

The novel coronavirus has had a chaotic impact on humanity’s carbon footprint. Transportation-related emissions are down, while home energy usage is likely to go up. With offices, restaurants, and other businesses temporarily shuttered, commercial garbage production in the United States has fallen dramatically—but in the wake of dozens of shelter-in-place mandates, residential waste has risen by as much as 30 percent.

ArticlesCommunity Perspectives

HCI + Hospitality: A Hospitality Story

When it comes to HCI management, there are few people who have a better sense of the decision-making implications than Chris Stanley. An IT manager for 11 years, Chris worked in a range of industries including macadamia nut farming and IT retail before arriving in hospitality at Celtic Manor Resort. “One thing I’ve learned in hospitality,” Chris says, “is that everything relies on IT. Each department has different needs and it’s our job as an IT department to manage and streamline them all.”

Thought Leadership

How Continuing Education Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

When it comes to HCI management, there are few people who have a better sense of the decision-making implications than Chris Stanley. An IT manager for 11 years, Chris worked in a range of industries including macadamia nut farming and IT retail before arriving in hospitality at Celtic Manor Resort. “One thing I’ve learned in hospitality,” Chris says, “is that everything relies on IT. Each department has different needs and it’s our job as an IT department to manage and streamline them all.”

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