As customers and the IT industry convene in Barcelona at Cisco this week, I think about our relationship with Cisco that spawned an incredibly significant industry almost a decade ago.

Back in 2009, Dell EMC and Cisco established a unified vision for the modern data center. Our goal was to simplify IT infrastructure adoption and management to enable IT operations teams to focus on delivering new services to help their businesses drive competitive advantage and new revenue. This vision eventually led to today’s Dell EMC VxBlock, a first-of-its-kind converged infrastructure system.

VxBlock Systems are built on Cisco UCS servers, Cisco Nexus switches, Cisco MDS switches, Dell EMC storage and data protection devices, and VMware vSphere hypervisor. According to a recent IDC survey, VxBlock Systems require 66% less operational effort than traditional systems, speed the application development lifecycle by 4%, and pay for themselves in an average of only eight months.¹

We call these outcomes the “turnkey engineered system experience,” in large part, due to another innovation: the Release Certification Matrix for life cycle assurance. Today, the “RCM” regularly provides VxBlock with pre-validated, interoperable firmware and hypervisor releases and patches for the entire technology stack. This eliminates hundreds of hours of tedious, risky operations that other technology stacks pose.2

Continuing to innovate and to collaborate with Cisco, we extended the VxBlock turnkey experience to the entire data center with Vscale Architecture.

With Vscale Architecture, shared resource pools of Cisco compute, Dell EMC storage and data protection are through the Vscale Fabric, which is a software-defined Cisco spine-leaf network. These “logical” converged systems are managed, supported and sustained with the same low OpEx, high availability and agility as a VxBlock System. Customers, such as Inovalon3, say that Vscale has created operational efficiencies enterprise-wide, beyond the scale of a single converged system.

Building on nearly a decade of No. 1 leadership in converged infrastructure sales, we’ve collaborated with Cisco to continue making strides in our journey to the modern data center with the addition of new hardware and software that has made our converged infrastructure portfolio even stronger, faster, more powerful and more automated.

Next Generation Cisco Compute for VxBlock Systems

Our family of VxBlock Systems (the 350, 540 and 740 models) now supports the powerful Cisco UCS B200 M5 Blade Servers. With the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processors, more cores per socket, up to 3TB of memory, and 24 DIMM slots, the M5 servers boost performance for compute-intensive workloads like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), web infrastructure and enterprise applications such as Oracle and SAP HANA. With the B200 M5 server, you can consolidate virtual servers at higher ratios with increased performance, capacity and throughput while utilizing a smaller, half-width form factor for increased space savings.

The added performance, memory footprint, I/O, and on-board storage of the UCS B200 M5 Blade Server offers additional OpEx savings with fewer servers to procure, power and cool, maintain, warranty, and purchase. Customers will be able to mix both M5 and previously supported M4 blades in VxBlock Systems, giving them more technology choice and investment protection.

Enhanced Cisco Software for Intent-Based Networking with Vscale

The Vscale Architecture supports all three pillars of Cisco intent-based networking. This is a substantial benefit for any organization struggling to maintain a consistent network and security policy as their data centers grow to enormous capacity to support thousands of applications.

The three pillars of intent-based networking are Cisco ACI, Tetration and Network Assurance Engine software. Together, they let you express your intent by writing policies about connectivity and security. The intent might be, “Keep the dev and prod environments separate,” “Quarantine all servers and VMs affected by the ABC attack” or “maintain certain configurations to assure specific performance and availability levels for applications XYZ.” The software translates this intent to configuration commands and continuously monitors all flows and verifies all ACI and Nexus configurations to ensure that your intent is being met.

As long- partners, Dell EMC and Cisco are both excited about the many use cases and endless possibilities that intent-based networking offers our Vscale customers:

“Together, Dell EMC and Cisco are deploying Vscale with ACI and Tetration to simplify and secure data center operations for some of the largest financial and transportation companies in the .” said Roland Acra, SVP and GM for Cisco’s Data Center Networking. “We look forward to working with Dell EMC to deliver network assurance along with our industry leading network automation and analytics, to enable these IT operators to shift from being reactive to proactive and to be confident their networks are always operating coherently and as intended.”

If you’re attending Cisco Live EMEA in Barcelona, please stop by our booth G13 and meet our experts. We’d love to speak with you about how VxBlock, Vscale, and Cisco intent-based networking make data centers simpler to manage so that IT experts can deliver more value for the business.


¹ IDC, The Business Value of Modernizing Mission-Critical Applications with Dell EMC VxBlock Systems, October 20

ESG, Simplifying IT Infrastructure Upgrades with Dell EMC Converged Infrastructures Systems and Vision Intelligent Operations Software. January 2017

³ Inovalon Dell EMC Vscale Architecture Case Study

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