VMworld 2012: Dell grows VDI Services

In the face of declining PC revenues and slowing storage sales VMworld San Francisco saw the launch of  two new Wyse P Class Zero Clients, two new EqualLogic hybrid storage arrays and three new reference architectures optimized for VMware View, signaling a clear intent from Dell that it is getting serious about VDI.

Dell’s move into VDI started with the launch of its appliance-styled DVS Simplified VDI solution for the SMB market where it bundled a Citrix VDI-in-a-Box along with a Dell PowerEdge R710 server as a plug-and-play solution – covered here in February 2012. At the time the R710 was getting a bit long in the tooth and it was quickly replaced by the next generation R720 which provided a much-needed uplift in performance. Dell’s next big move was the Wyse acquisition in April 2012, a timely move given that IDC forecasts that the worldwide thin client demand will grow by 15% per year to $3 billion by 2015 and that the end to end infrastructure stack (i.e., servers, storage, software, and services) is expected to exceed $15 billion by 2015. Although the Wyse acquisition made Dell the number one thin client vendor, this was not just a way to gain greater access to the thin client business, Wyse has a rapidly growing cloud software division that in the long-term may prove to be the more valuable side of the deal.

Dell Wyse P Class Zero Clients

Dell announced two new Zero Clients specifically designed for VMware View.  The dual display ready Dell Wyse P25 and the quad display P45. The smaller P25 offers DVI connector and one DisplayPort connector while the P45 offers 4 DisplayPort connector, a first for a thin client. Both devices come with four USB 2.0  ports – USB 3.0 is still too new for price-sensitive thin clients, and there is little real need for either the throughput or increased power load that USB 3.0 can support as yet. Power consumption is creditably low at 8 Watts and 15 Watts respectively. The only other significant difference being that the P25 uses the Teradici TERA2321 display processor, with the P45 using the bigger  TERA2140. Both Teradici chips use the new Tera 2 chipset that was announced earlier this month. This provides up to five times the performance of the previous generation Tera 1 processors, stronger AES 256 encryption and faster USB 2.0 transfer rates. The TERA2321 provide support for dual  920×1200 or a single 2560×1600 resolution displays, with the TERA2340 providing double that i.e., quad 1920×1200 or dual 2560×1600 resolution. These same new zero clients will also work with the recently announced Teradici RDSH offering that will be released later this year.

Dell Storage Arrays with VMware Integration for VDI

Dell has also announced a new EqualLogic hybrid storage array mixing SSD and conventional spinning disk to deliver high performance without the high cost of an all SSD array. The new storage array is available in two versions; the PS6510ES is available with a 10Gb ethernet interface, while the PS6500ES supports 1Gb ethernet, both hold up to 85 TB per array delivering up to 2 PB per Dell EqualLogic group. his is the first time that Dell has offered hybrid storage arrays and while the initial announcement  highlighted the value that hybrid storage arrays can provide to VDI deployments, Dell is also targeting the new arrays at data warehousing and online transactional databases. For customers looking for even more performance out of their storage, Dell has partnered with Virsto Software to offer Virsto’s software hypervisor to use in conjunction with VMware ESXi as well as Microsoft Hyper-V.

VMware View optimized reference architectures

Dell has also released three new desktop virtualization reference architectures that were developed in conjunction with VMware:

  • The “vStart for VDI Reference Architecture for VMware View” is offered as a workload on top of the Dell vStart stack, provides a near plug-and-play solution ideal for small to midsized deployments or for use as a quick proof of concept before investing in a larger implementation.
  • The Dell Mobile Clinical Computing – of Care Reference Architecture is a Dell and VMware validated reference architecture designed to deliver high levels of availability for healthcare environments offering constant monitoring, secure rapid access, single sign on and constant data replication across sites.
  • Dell is also looking to take advantage of the growing move to adopt BYOD to push it’s VDI services with the DVS Enterprise – Mobile Secure Desktop Reference Architecture.

Wrapping it up

Adding these new products onto the existing Dell DVS solutions that leverage Citrix VDI-in-a-Box and the Desktone DaaS platform, and Dell offers VDI solutions from every major desktop virtualization vendor, from the smallest system capable of supporting a few tens of users to enterprise platforms delivering desktops on demand to tens of thousands of users. While Dell still has the solutions, it still has some way to go in packaging them so that they can be readily consumed, especially by SMB customers. Dell is not alone in facing this challenge, it is one thing to be able to offer the products and services needed to deliver a VDI solution, it is quite another to be able to do so efficiently and effectively. Given the difficulties that many resellers face in delivering workable VDI implementations without engaging top-tier professional services, whichever vendor finds a way to encapsulate all the technologies and services needed to implement VDI solutions most effectively will establish a considerable advantage in the marketplace.

One last question remains for Dell; what are its plans for Quest vWorkspace? I will look at that next week.