Reading articles about the two companies consummation on 9/7/16 around social media yesterday, one would think the marriage included a new product or solution which was revolutionizing the industry. I haven’t heard of any but I do know that both companies have continued to shed employee’s and sell off assets not core to the go-forward business to capture critical capital to fund the massive $63B deal. They will also continue to evaluate products from both Dell & EMC’s traditional product portfolios to phase out, merge, sell or kill due to redundancies and other reasons. It just happens. For them to say otherwise is misleading at best. Frankly, it hurts their credibility when they deny this as there are examples already of this occurring.
Going forward I do not see how the combined products of Dell, which at its core sell commodity Intel servers that are not even best of breed, but rather the low-cost leader paired with the high-end products from EMC, which had high development cost will be any different on 9/8/16 than it was on 9/6/16. EMC’s problem of customers moving away from the high margin high-end storage systems to the highly competitive, lower margin All Flash Array products will not be any better for the newly combined company. This AFA space has many good competitors who offer “Good Enough” features that can offer clients 1) Lower cost 2) Comparable or better features 3) Not a tier-1 player who some customers resist due to feeling they overpay for the privilege to work with them.
About 2 years ago, EMC absorbed VCE with its Converged infrastructure called vBlock, a term I argue it is not but instead is a Integrated Infrastructure built on VMware, Cisco UCS and EMC Storage. VMware & EMC storage offer nothing unique. UCS is unique in the Intel space but with the messy split from the VCE tri-union and now VCE who is placing a lot of emphasis on their own hyper-converged offerings as well as products from Dell due to this new found marriage. It only makes sense to de-emphasize Cisco from a VCE solution and start promoting Dell products. This goes from using the leader in Intel blade solutions to the “me-too” Dell products which is average in a field of “Good Enough” technology whose most notable feature is its low cost.
As I listen to the IBM announcement today that include 3 new OpenPOWER servers I can’t help but wonder how much longer Dell’s low cost advantage will remain. Not sure what they will use for SAP HANA workloads requiring > 4 socket Intel servers since HPE just bought SGI, primarily for its 32 socket Intel server/technology. I guess they could partner with Lenovo on their x3950 or with Cisco on their C880 which I believe they actually OEM from Hitachi. Dell servers are woefully inadequate with regard to RAS features; not just against POWER servers but even against other Intel competitors like Lenovo (thanks to their IBM purchase of xSeries), Hitachi and Fujitsu who all have stronger offerings relative to what Dell offers. RAS features simply cost more which is why you didn’t see IBM with its xSeries, Hitachi or Fujitsu be volume leaders. This is also why you are seeing more software defined solutions built to mask hardware deficiencies. This in itself has its own problems.
Here is a quick review of today’s announcements. The first server is a 2 socket 2U server built for Big Data hosting 12 internal front facing drive slots. The next server is a 2 socket 1U server offering almost 7K threads in a 42U rack. It provides tremendous performance for clients looking for data-rich and dense computing. The 3rd server is a 2 socket 2U server that is the first commercial system to offer NVIDIA‘s NVLink technology connecting 2 or 4 GPU’s directly to each other as well as to the CPU’s. Every connection is 160 GB/s bi-directional which is roughly 5X what is available on Intel servers using GPU’s connected to PCIe3 adapter slots.
These OpenPOWER systems allow clients to build their own solution or as part of a integrated product with storage and management stack built on OpenStack. Ideal for Big Data, Analytics, HPC, Cloud, DevOps and open source workloads like SugarCRM, NoSQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL (I like EnterpriseDB for support) or even IBM’s vast software portfolio such as DB2 v11.1.
Pricing for the 3 new OpenPOWER models as well as the first 2 announced earlier in the year is available at Scale-out Linux on page. I recently did a pricing comparison for a customer with several 2 socket Dell servers vs a comparable 2 socket S822LC. Both the list and web price for the Dell solution were more expensive than OpenPOWER. The Dell list price was approximately 35% more and the web list price was 10% more and I was using the price as shown on the IBM OpenPOWER page provided in the link in this same paragraph. Clients looking to deploy large clusters, compute farms or simply want to start lowering infrastructure cost should take a hard look at OpenPOWER. If you can install Linux on an Intel server, you have the skills to manage a OpenPOWER server. Rocket Scientist need not apply!
If you have questions, encourage you to contact your local or favorite business partner. If you do not have one, I would be happy to work with you.