Another Tier-1 Converged Infrastructure Option

The drum continues to beat for converged infrastructure products, and Dell has given it the latest thump with the introduction of vStart, a pre-integrated environment for VMware. Best thought of as a competitor to VCE, the integrated VMware, Cisco and EMC virtualization stack, vStart combines:

  • Dell PowerEdge R610 and R710 rack servers
  • Dell EqualLogic PS6000XV storage
  • Dell PowerConnect Ethernet switches
  • Preinstalled VMware (trial) software & Dell management extensions
  • Dell factory and onsite services

The customer deliverable is a ready-to-run stack of hardware and software for hosting either 100 or 200 VMs, complete with onsite startup and a variety of ongoing support packages.

Why Infrastructure & Operations Groups Should Pay Attention

Dell's announcement represents another option for converged infrastructure from a mainstream vendor, and one that addresses one of the most common use cases for CI – the standing up of an infrastructure to support a shared VM runtime environment. Dell’s offerings are scaled to address reasonable small to medium scale environments, and can be easily scaled by adding additional modules as requirements grow. Additionally we will not be surprised to see Dell expand these configurations in the future as well as extend them to their blade product offerings in the future.

This move represents the first direct challenge to the VCE offering in its targeted packaging and marketing, and at first glance appears to deliver not only the technical solution but also comes from a single vendor, with an uncomplicated sales, support and revenue model, which will potentially reassure potential customers who are nervous about the VCE model.

Clearly vStart is another step in Dell’s recent commitment to converged infrastructure and an increased enterprise presence. At list prices of $99,900 ($999/VM) for the vStart 100V and $169,000 ($845/VM) for the vStart 200V, before discounts, these look like a pretty good way to provision your virtual infrastructure, especially considering the guarantee of fast and correct installation and VMware setup. If you are in the market for a virtualization platform for your company, inviting bids from both Dell and VCE will almost certainly lead to some healthy discounting – a win for the vendor that eventually gets to hang your head on their trophy wall, and a win for you when the best and final discount offers are evaluated.