Dell bakes automation into PowerONE converged infrastructure

Dell has launched an all-Dell EMC converged infrastructure system called PowerONE and is making its products available with a subscription and metered pricing deal called Technology on Demand.

PowerONE rack.

PowerONE uses rack-level Dell PowerEdge MX servers, PowerSwitch and SmartFabric networking, PowerMax storage, PowerProtect secondary storage, and VMware virtualization. In effect it is an all-Dell version of the Dell-Cisco VxBlock, which uses Cisco networking and servers.  

We asked Dell if the Dell-plus-Cisco VxBlock product line continues alongside PowerOne.

A Dell spokesperson replied: “Yes. PowerOne represents an expansion of our portfolio of integrated infrastructure systems. We remain committed to VxBlock as a complementary part of our offerings.…PowerOne extends our offerings to simplify IT operations for customers with an all Dell EMC preference.” 

We also asked If PowerOne is a development on from, and a replacement for, Dell EMC Ready Stack CI.

Dell said: “Not a replacement, no. Ready Stack is a set of validated designs for those who seek to build their own infrastructure solutions based on flexible options of Dell EMC components. PowerOne takes this to another level, delivered as an all-in-one autonomous system, with all Dell EMC components, that is pre-engineered, factory built and managed holistically as one solution. We will continue to offer both approaches – along with VxBlock – as part of our integrated infrastructure portfolio.”

PowerONE Navigator

PowerONE is installed with Navigator, an automation engine that uses Kubernetes and Ansible. At launch, operations that Navigator automates include setting up a VMware cluster.

There are three applications: Launch Assist does the VMware cluster set-up; Life-Cycle Assist can create a SAN fabric; and Expansion Assist auto-configures when compute, storage or networking resources are expanded.

Dell says PowerONE Navigator forms part of its development of autonomous systems. The endpoint in mind here is a 24×7, hands-free environment.

Dell’s Jon Siegal, VP product marketing for networking and solutions, said in a briefing that the idea is for admin staff to manage by identifying outcomes rather than work their way through multi-step manual procedures. In an echo of a Nutanix message, he also said the idea is to help make infrastructure invisible.

No configuration details were available on launch day. PowerONE systems will be globally available from November 22.

Technology on Demand

Technology on Demand is a consumption-based payment service. It applies to Dell equipment deployed as user kit endpoints, in edge locations and data centres and as cloud infrastructure. The latter category covers converged and hyperconverged systems such as PowerONE and VxRail. 

Technology on Demand equipment spectrum.

There are three consumption models; pay as you go; flex on demand with per-month metering to enable elastic capacity; and data centre utility – a customised pay per use environment across the entire Dell IT infrastructure.

ToD is available for three full stack platforms: Dell Technologies Cloud; Dell Technologies Unified Workspace; and Engineered Workload Solutions. The latter includes solutions for Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, VDI, high-performance computing and other applications. Dell Technologies Cloud and Unified Workspace have integrated VMware components.

Paying your subs?

All the mainstream storage system suppliers are developing subscription-based services. They include HPE, with Greenlake, Nutanix, NetApp Keystone and Pure Storage. This enables customers to stop paying upfront for capital purchases and move to a per-period consumption billing, which is an operating expense.

Supplier revenues typically take a short term hit when customers switch en masse to subscription payments. This pattern has already affected Nutanix revenues. But it should work out nicely for the vendors once they get over this hump. Subscription revenue is more predictable as customers don’t have to make a big bucks CAPEX buying decision. They just keep on making the monthly payments.