In Part 1 of this blog series, we talked about desktop virtualization in terms of its ever-changing role in solving new problems for Higher Education: lab systems management, student productivity and flexibility, a bridge between wealthier and poorer students, lab consolidation, and finally looking forward to “21st Century Collaboration Spaces.” Now, let’s discuss the future – what new challenges in Higher Education can VDI as a technology solve? Here are a few ideas I think are interesting.Hyper-converged infrastructure VDI appliances (HCIA) are becoming increasingly attractive for campuses that want to set up distributed compute environments. For example, to give the Law School a separate IT environment from the Business School, etc. A few years ago, the cost per seat of VDI made smaller deployments too expensive, and we saw a lot of schools try – unsuccessfully in most cases – to corral their departments into a centralized solution.Today, the “building block” approach of HCIA opens up the technology to departments that want to virtualize a few labs, then pay as they grow. Plus, the ease of the software GUI’s that run from a single management console on HCIA’s means schools no longer require an IT professional with a “PhD in VDI.”Because an HCIA allows nearly frictionless scaling without the budgetary impact of previous hardware upgrades or expansions typically required for a VDI project, schools can use this technology for distance learning programs. Schools are opening up new avenues of learning (and sometimes new revenue streams), via distance education programs and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC’s).Hosted by leading institutions such as Stanford, MIT, Yale, Harvard, and at least 563 other universities, the number of massive open online courses has exploded in recent years. Offering up software for such programs via desktop virtualization environments allows schools to avoid the hassle of shipping and tracking software licenses, and allows students to leverage their own hardware.However, the number of students enrolled in these courses can swing up and down much more rapidly than in a traditional on-campus course. If the number of students signed up online is much greater than anticipated, hyper-converged infrastructure appliances allow for flexible scaling and ease of virtual desktop deployment. This allows schools to offer more distance learning to more students at a lower cost.Looking ahead, I’ve seen a few forward-leaning IT administrators try to provision all of their desktops from the public cloud, saying, “We don’t want to be in the desktop management business. We want to be in the education business.” Unfortunately, most of these valiant efforts have been limited by a handful of issues that I believe will be solved in the next five years.The first is how you protect critical data, like HIPAA data leveraged by a medical school, in a public cloud environment. While there are work-arounds to allow you to do this today, they are not elegant solutions. I suspect a much better answer is going to be the developing technology set around hybrid cloud architectures where sensitive data is stored and protected locally.The second issue is around software application licensing. Five years ago, most ISV’s did not have concurrent licensing, required by most Higher Ed institutions for virtualizing lab computers. This meant that there was a huge software licensing “tax” on going virtual, and my team was involved in an Educause working group related to this issue. Today this issue is already mostly resolved, but there are a few notable stragglers among software developers that are preventing deployments of the full complement of academic software required by students. I suspect this problem will resolve quickly.The third issue is that, because campuses do distributed IT purchasing, cloud solutions that reward scale can be cost prohibitive. Even in schools where the CIO has issued a centralized mandate around cloud adoption, IT professionals have lacked a charge-back system that would effectively administer a fair distribution of costs across multiple departments. Once a solid solution for multi-tenant cloud / departmental charge-back takes hold, this will drive more large campuses to serve up their desktops out of the cloud.And, once Higher Ed does wholeheartedly embrace the cloud for more than just storage or Office 365? I see an interesting opportunity for universities to take advantage of the ability to “burst” up and down rapidly. Higher Ed, in particular, has very seasonal needs. What if a school could provision for a baseline level of activity, then burst-up each semester during midterms and finals?However these trends evolve, it is clear that Higher Education has already derived great benefit from desktop virtualization technologies, with huge impacts to student work-study habits, the use and purpose of computer labs, physical plant allocation, and IT support workloads. I am excited to look back in five more years and see what else in Higher Education has changed as a result of this ongoing transformation in desktop computing.
In the coming months, we’ll also be adding support for the Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation server portfolio across the Dell EMC HCI and Ready Nodes portfolio.But here comes the mind-blowing part as it relates to the cost of acquisition – we’re introducing a new option which eliminates that step-in acquisition cost entirely. We are really, really pushing the envelope here.We’re launching Dell Financial Services Cloud Flex for HCI, which fundamentally changes how customers can acquire HCI on-premises with a cloud-like consumption mode. DFS Cloud Flex for HCI offers a flexible, risk-free payment solution that eliminates initial capital costs and spreads payments over time with no obligation after the first year.We challenged ourselves to put our money where our mouth is—one of the biggest benefits of HCI is that you can start small, grow as you need—which means “overbuying” IT is a thing of the past. Also, with HCI, expansion takes minutes, is non-disruptive, and there is no “big migration event”. Why not take these technological advantages and turn them into a financial advantage?If our VxRail and XC Series offers are as good as we think they are, the benefit to the customer is massive. Uniquely, as the only private IT giant, Dell EMC can partner with our customers in the long term. If we’re doing a good job, customers will consume our HCI more, and, if it means they buy less up front, so be it.Cloud Flex for HCI means customers pay per month, require no lease terms, and can return at any time – after the first 12 months without any penalty for returning some or all of the equipment. It’s a complete OPEX model—no CAPEX anywhere to be seen. Heck, we’ve even built in committed price declines over time, just like some of the most aggressive public cloud models.We’re starting Cloud Flex for HCI with Dell EMC VxRail and XC Series engineered systems – but if this as successful as I suspect (if I was a customer, I would be all over this!), we will expand it to all our HCI offers, including our HCI Rack-Scale systems.And remember, HCI isn’t an end in itself. Customers use HCI commonly as the foundation for IaaS and PaaS models—the on-premise half of Hybrid Cloud models.It’s why our VMware-based IaaS—the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud—is now available on VxRail and VxRack. It’s also why our Pivotal and VMware-based developer-ready infrastructure platform—the Native Hybrid Cloud—is available on VxRail and now VxRack.We’re not stopping with our deeply integrated Dell Technologies family stacks – customers want choice when it comes to Hybrid Cloud, and we have critical technology partners in our open ecosystem.Dell EMC also is expanding our long-standing partnership with Microsoft to deliver a new hybrid cloud platform, the Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack.Based on an instance of the same cloud operating system software stack Microsoft employs in its public cloud, Microsoft Azure Stack gives customers that have standardized on virtual machines from Microsoft the ability to seamless deploy applications either in their local data center or on the Azure cloud.Similar to Azure Stack federating with Azure – our VMware powered Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is available in conjunction with any number of our cloud service provider partners, including Virtustream and soon Amazon Web Services (AWS). The moral of the story? Cloud is an operating model, not a place.It’s not just us who think that Hybrid Cloud models – with simple turnkey on-premises offers paired with off-premises stacks – is the answer. A new IDC study commissioned by Dell EMC – with 1000 enterprises sampled –shows that many IT organizations already operate in hybrid cloud environments. The study shows that 79.7 percent of large organizations have a hybrid cloud strategy in place, and that 51.4 percent already employ both public and private clouds.Dell EMC has a singular focus on injecting as much technical agility and financial flexibility into the hybrid cloud computing equation as possible. That’s only made possible by being the largest provider of IT infrastructure in the industry. Dell EMC uniquely has the financial wherewithal to not only invest billions of dollars in research and development, but also make those innovations accessible via the most flexible financial terms bar none.DFS Cloud Flex for HCI is only the latest in a series of dividends for Dell EMC customers that would not have been economically feasible without merging the two companies. But best of all, the cost of entry to start becoming eligible for those dividends is now effectively zero.We’re very excited about all of the different ways we’re innovating to help accelerate outcomes for our customers and partners. Thanks as always for your support and collaboration on this journey to IT at the speed of business. Watch this space for more updates direct from Dell EMC World in Vegas. We’re making the entry point more flexible for HCI Rack Scale-Systems, which transform the network/SDN:VxRack SDDC now offers six additional PowerEdge R630-based server nodes to both increase high performance as well as expand entry level options in cores, memory and CPUsExpanded VxRack FLEX configurations to support Dell EMC PowerEdge R930, enabling the most data-demanding applications such as OLTP, in-memory databases, OLAP, CRM and ERP to be run on a pre-integrated system For more years than anyone cares to admit, the IT industry has been caught up in a largely artificial debate about the total cost of ownership (TCO) for IT infrastructure versus the total cost of acquisition (TCA).TCO has been a way to shift the discussion of the large up-front cost of IT infrastructure to a more real metric – the value over the life of said IT resource, versus the cost of acquisition. It’s a way to move the discussion off the material upfront investment that IT traditionally represents.It’s a real point – but there’s another way to make the debate moot – take the large up-front cost of IT off the table entirely. That’s what we’re doing this week at Dell EMC World.We’ve already been aggressively moving down that path with a set of unrivaled, pre-integrated converged and hyper-converged systems, which eliminate all the integration and lifecycle costs that have been foisted on internal IT organizations for years. That’s what VxBlock, VxRack, VxRail, and XC Series have always been about. Instead of requiring an internal IT organization to stitch together compute, storage and networking on their own to create a functional system and then carry the zero-value burden of maintaining the stack for its full lifecycle, we invested in developing the intellectual property necessary to create truly turnkey systems and appliances to drive the transition to software-defined data centers.BUT – they always had a material “step in” cost that needed to be absorbed. We’re making that step smaller, more flexible, and, in one case, eliminating it completely.How?We’re lowering the entry point for HCI Appliances, which are simple and plug-in to existing networks: Announcing new single processor options for VxRail Appliances priced as low as $25,000 USD street price for a three-node cluster as part of our expansive VxRail 4.5 updatesA new XC Series appliance–the XC430 Xpress–that’s a robust entry offering with full features and optimized for the smallest environments up to four nodesRevamped and new Ready Nodes across ScaleIO, VMware vSAN and Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct for customers who want to build-their own stacks – with more flexibility (but of course less turnkey outcomes)
Dell EMC Unity Storage Rocket Ship, Blast-Off ReduxLast June, I shared an important milestone; our Dell EMC Unity storage array family surpassed $1 billion in cumulative bookings revenue since its May 2016 market debut. The size of that milestone is significant, as many companies or products never reach that level in sales – ever. The speed of the milestone is significant as well, since it was achieved in just over one calendar year. We didn’t think we could improve on that, but we did, and then some. Over the last year, we’ve made huge gains in Midrange storage.For Dell EMC Unity, we’ve doubled the cumulative bookings revenues to $2 billion in less than two years (22 months to be exact). We’re overjoyed that this new milestone came at a faster pace, in much shorter time than our last report. More than 22,000 physical Dell EMC Unity systems have shipped, along with over 12,000 downloads of Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA), our software-defined version. Dell EMC Unity has a variety of deployment models covered including Unified for block and file, Hybrid and All-flash versions, SDS (Software Defined Storage), and Converged Infrastructure (CI). And it’s all connected to the cloud.The Dell EMC Midrange storage rocket ship continues to soar, thanks to our partners, customers and staff, all of whom together make this happen. During the past year, we’ve made numerous enhancements to Dell EMC Unity to ensure it provides a compelling feature set for customers with a wide range of workloads and business challenges. Our customers have benefited from the addition of compression and deduplication, to provide the lowest $/GB possible. For example:We released CloudIQ, to simplify monitoring and management, and it can even detect performance anomalies, where one-time performance spikes are easily detected against historical norms.A new set of controllers was released last year providing increases in performance and scale.Customers can create snapshots that never expire, in combination with our Cloud Tiering Appliance (CTA).This is just one small piece of our complete cloud integration. From cloud-based analytics, to long-term snapshot storage in the cloud, and full integration with your preferred cloud vendor (Virtustream, Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage, Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure), we have it all. Stay tuned for a future blog on these initiatives.Here’s some additional progress we’ve made in the last year:Just a few months ago, Storage Review completed its first test on the Dell EMC Unity 450F. The results were impressive and resulted in an Editor’s Choice award. This is the first, and so far the only, storage array to receive the award in 2018. Storage Review added these comments “Clearly our lab is impressed with the 450F not just from a performance perspective, but from an integration one too. Of everything we’ve seen over the years, no storage array hooks into VMware so easily. The interface is perhaps the easiest to get acquainted with as well, perfect for the midrange target audience.”Here’s what our partners think about the new release:“We’ve been a channel partner for EMC for many years, and the Midrange Dell EMC Unity products are a key part of our portfolio of products and services that we offer,” said Raphael Meyerowitz, VP, Office of the CTO, Presidio. “With the transition from previous models to Dell EMC Unity, we now provide a unified, cost-effective Midrange array that offers a wide range of features to help our customer solve their storage and business needs. When the Dell EMC Unity features are coupled with the product’s ease of use, and the new features added over the last year, we’re able to help even more customers. Congratulations to Dell EMC for reaching this milestone. As a partner, we value our relationship with Dell EMC and look forward to celebrating future milestones together.”We also couldn’t have reached this milestone without our customers.Over the years, they’ve provided feedback that we’ve incorporated into our product. I want to share some feedback from one of our recent customers, Rio Grande Pacific, which uses Dell EMC Unity to support its short rail operations, covering 700 miles in six states to move 120,000 train car loads each year. Over 475,000 riders utilize passenger trains and 24×7 operation is critical. In their words, “Downtime is not an option.”Their CIO Jason Brown, continues: “We needed our technology infrastructure to match our company’s aggressive growth. We can do that now with Dell EMC Unity All-Flash.” “Now that Dell EMC Unity is in place”, Rio Grande Pacific reports “The speed of our services increased tenfold.” ESG labs has evaluated Dell EMC Unity to provide real-world results that customers should consider. With ESG labs, the products are reviewed in a lab setting under real-world conditions. See for yourself by checking out the full report from ESG. Here are a few highlights from this lab report:“With the latest Unity All-flash line, Dell EMC has designed an array that brings the extreme ease of use of an entry-level array with the advanced features you might expect in an enterprise-class solution. Simplicity is its hallmark…ShareWe’re all familiar with the ease of use associated with consumer equipment. That was the target for Dell EMC Unity as well; intuitive, and easy to use, for both seasoned professionals and storage generalists as well. ESG labs also commented, “ESG found Dell EMC Unity to be as easy to install as a consumer networked printer.”Security-conscious customers will benefit from the multiple new security certifications and compliance achievements recently announced for Dell EMC Unity including: United States of America DoD Approved Products List (APL), STIG Compliance, FIPS certification and Common Criteria.We’ve also recently announced an even easier way for our customers to get Dell EMC Unity All-Flash storage into their environments through the Dell Financial Services OpenScale Flex On Demand payment program. Flex on Demand Velocity pricing models for Dell EMC Unity All-Flash storage arrays will offer price points of less than $1,000 per month, and customers can run consumption-based All-Flash storage without needing custom configuration – thereby improving time to installation for storage deployments.Flex On Demand reduces costs, enabling customers to pay only for capacity as it is used. Customers can take advantage of All-Flash storage on a consumption basis across the Dell EMC storage portfolio and enjoy the operational and cost benefits of running on-premise workloads with a lower capacity commitment and a more flexible payment period through Flex On Demand.Late last year, we announced the ground breaking Future-Proof Storage Loyalty Program, which gives Midrange storage buyers the assurance that they’re not only getting the best product, but also the best customer experience and performance guarantees. Rather than play along with what other vendors offer, Dell EMC decided to go big with our new Future-Proof Storage Loyalty Program, offering stronger and longer guarantees, and unique benefits such as a free cloud-based solution to store snapshots forever, making it a great new way for customers to protect their business data.As you can see, we’ve had a busy year. We’re enhancing our portfolio with the best products and programs available on the market. Like a laser beam, customers will seek out only the best vendors that provide a total end-to-end package. They seek award-winning products, industry-leading services and programs, complete financial programs, and global 24X7 operations. That’s how to win their business. And our customers have spoken. With their assistance, we’re proud to announce this major milestone. Thank you to our customers, our parters, and our employees, for helping us reach this milestone together.