The Storage Team Blog about file services and storage features in Windows and Windows Server.
Hi Folks –
Dell’s latest server, the PowerEdge VRTX Shared Infrastructure Platform is an incredible cluster-in-a-box that delivers highly-available services and storage in one beautiful package. There are some great innovations in this chassis, for sure; the shared PCI bus and virtualized PERC8 storage controllers are really ground breaking stuff. However, what really has me impressed is the price. On the Dell website today, they have this chassis and two blades available for under $10,000, which is about as low a price as you can find for a Windows Server 2012 cluster with hardware RAID!
Dell bills the PowerEdge VTRX as a solution that “redefines office IT.” And I’m inclined to agree: its innovative, converged design is based on a modular chassis that supports 4 compute nodes and up to 48TB of storage in a 5U rack-mount enclosure—or you can turn it sideways and it’s a tower that fits under your desk. It’s great for small businesses, which often face space constraints, hardware sprawl, low tolerance for heat and noise, and a lack of datacenter-class power or cooling. The PowerEdge VRTX is built to address all these issues, making it easy to deploy compute and storage resources wherever you need them.
The speed with which the PowerEdge VRTX can be deployed is just as impressive as its physical design. Last year, I blogged about how the OEM Appliance OOBE (out-of-the-box experience) originally developed for Windows Storage Server was being included in Windows Server 2012 (Standard and Datacenter Editions) as well as both editions of Windows Storage Server 2012. At that time, it supported the deployment of standalone servers or 2-node failover clusters. This spring, the Windows team released an update that adds support for 4-node clusters. During its development, we worked closely with Dell using original prototypes of the hardware.
Dell is including that update with the PowerEdge VRTX to deliver a four-node cluster-in-a-box that can be deployed in 45 minutes. After powering-on the system, the user can simply follow the sequence of tasks provided by Dell, which include configuring the network, joining a domain; provisioning some storage, and creating the cluster. Here is a screenshot that shows the Initial Configuration Tasks window:
And here’s a great shot of the Dell booth at TechEd, where they highlighted the PowerEdge VRTX and how quickly it can be deployed.
Dell’s innovative PCI-e virtualization technology and PERC8 storage controller enable simultaneous access to storage from each server node. This reduces the overhead in accessing shared storage and also reduces the total storage needed by allowing each server node to share the same physical storage resources.
Such innovations make the PowerEdge VRTX a great Hyper-V host. You can easily scale-up RAM, add more CPUs, and install additional PCI-e add-in cards (including several 10GbE options from Intel and Broadcom) to run numerous VMs at once, handle huge SQL instances, or support thousands of IIS workloads—all while migrating running VMs from one node to another at lightning speed. You can easily assign the shared PCI-e slots to any of the nodes using the system’s Chassis Management Controller (CMC).
Dell recently released a reference architecture to help customers deploy virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) workloads on the PowerEdge VRTX using Hyper-V. The reference architecture includes sizing guidance for two default configurations: two M620 blades and 15 disks, which is designed to support 250 virtual Windows 8 desktops; and four M620 blades and 25 disks, which is designed to support 500 virtual Windows 8 desktops. You can configure and price these solutions using Dell’s Solutions Configurator.
Detailed system specifications for the PowerEdge VRTX can be found on the Dell website or the downloadable data sheet. Here are a few highlights:
Put simply, the PowerEdge VRTX has the potential to be a game-changer when it comes to office IT. I’m hard-pressed to think of another system that can match all the benefits that the PowerEdge VRTX has to offer, including:
If the above has you interested in Dell’s PowerEdge VRTX, the Shared Infrastructure page on the Dell website is a good place to start. I think you’ll be impressed… I know that I am.
Cheers, Scott M Johnson Senior Program Manager Windows Server OEM Appliance OOBE