Two converged infra products, one aimed at enterprises and the other at SMBs and branch offices
SMB product gets ‘stamp of approval’ from fictional SMB owner ‘Phua Chu Kang’ from popular sitcom
DELL Inc has unveiled two ‘all-in-a-box’ solutions, one aimed at enterprises and the second aimed at small and medium businesses (SMBs) and branch offices, the latter even getting the ‘Phua Chu Kang’ stamp of approval.
Both are part of Dell’s ‘Converged Infrastructure’ drive, combining servers, networking, storage and software in one box. The enterprise solution is the Dell Active Infrastructure, while the SMB product is the PowerEdge VRTX (pronounced ‘vertex’).
To drive home the point of how the VRTX address the challenges SMBs face, Dell screened a special episode that reunited the comedy team behind popular Singapore TV series Phua Chu Kang, whose titular character played by Gurmit Singh is a contractor who boasts that his company is the “best in Singapore, JB (Johor Baru), and some say, Batam.”
The special sitcom-length movie, commissioned by Dell and its partner Intel Corp for an undisclosed sum, will be screened at private viewings for the company’s partners and customers as part of the VRTX rollout. To watch the special feature, click here (registration required).
“Phua Chu Kang is an SMB icon,” said K.T. Ong (pic above, centre), general manager of the Commercial Business at Dell Malaysia, said at a media briefing on June 27 in Kuala Lumpur, adding that the special episode illustrated many of the challenges SMBs face in using IT.
Reiterating the Government’s estimated that 99.2% of businesses in Malaysia fall under the SMB category, he also noted that “90% of SMBs in Malaysia do not have an Information Technology (IT) department to run their infrastructure.”
“To set up an IT department, you need to hire subject matter experts in storage, networking, security and other areas,” he said, adding that this was beyond the financial reach of most SMBs.
“SMBs need systems that are simple to deploy and manage, with built-in security and networking so that they don’t have to worry about it,” he added. “It is in our interest to provide them with these tools and capabilities.”
Norhizam Abdul Kadir (pic above, left), national sales manager at Intel Malaysia, concurred, citing different research from IDC and Gartner, amongst others, that added to the challenging tally.
“About 70% of SMBs faced at least two cyber-attacks in the past 12 months; 47% never back up their data; and consequently, 46% have lost data that resulted in loss of revenue,” he said.
The Dell systems are built on Intel’s Xeon processors, “which don’t just compute but add communications and high levels of security built into them,” added Norhizam.
Calling it a ‘private cloud in a box’ and the first converged IT solution designed specifically for remote and small office environments, Dell said the PowerEdge VRTX comes with enterprise-class capabilities in a desk-side, space-saving design.
Servers (up to four), storage (up to eight PCIe slots with up to 48TB storage capacity in total), networking and management are packed into a single compact chassis in the PowerEdge VRTX, which Dell said also uses up to 86% fewer cables.
“If you look at your typical SMB in Malaysia, their servers and IT equipment are all stored in a small room or cupboard, with cables running all over the place,” said Foo See Han (pic above, right), server products solutions manager for South Asia, Dell.
“Now all that fits into this chassis (pic),” he said, adding that the VRTX also comes with what Dell calls the Chassis Management Controller (CMC), which unifies and streamlines control over server, storage and networking components into a single console or dashboard for easier management.
Pricing for the VRTX, which would be available in the coming weeks and which are manufactured at Dell’s facility in the northern Malaysian state of Penang, start at US$10,000.
On the enterprise front, Dell also announced its Active Infrastructure 1.1 that it said would help organisations accelerate the delivery of business applications and IT services, improve data centre efficiency and strengthen IT service quality.
“We’re moving from an infrastructure-centric data centre to an IT services-centric data centre,” said Foo. “IT departments are no longer infrastructure providers but IT services enablers, where speed and nimbleness are increasing important.”
“To achieve this IT services model, you need systems that are open, intuitive, automated and which provide end-to-end capability,” he added.
Dell said that by leveraging out-of-the-box and custom workload templates, as well as validated reference architectures, IT administrators can reduce the time and steps to provision new workloads by approximately 99%.
Dell said it is also expanding its converged infrastructure platforms and reference architectures to include the Dell Active System 50, Dell Active System 200, Dell Active System 800 and Dell Active System 1000.
These pre-integrated systems come in multiple sizes depending on customer needs and application requirements, and enable up to six times faster implementation of new virtual infrastructure, the company added.
The company also announced Active System Manager 7.1, the management layer for Active System that integrates intellectual property from the recently acquired Gale Technologies to automate workload and infrastructure deployment through a single console.
The Dell Active Infrastructure 1.1 portfolio will be available to order in the coming days, the company said, with prices starting at US$50,000.
“Converged Infrastructure is our guiding principle,” said Ong. “Over the past four years, we have acquired about 20 companies, mainly in the enterprise space, and have absorbed their technologies into our product range.”
“We’re very confident of calling ourselves an end-to-end solutions company,” he added.
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