Back on September 29th, Dell announced new capabilities and services to its Virtual Integrated System (VIS) architecture. A few days before VMworld I met with senior Dell representatives in San Francisco where they explained VIS and how well the overall architecture and combined Dell services have enabled their customers to heavily leverage virtual technologies. Dell customer Black Board attended this meeting providing testimonial on the implementation of the VIS architecture and that they are accelerating their ability to meet SLA's and deliver compute capabilities that are enhancing their business growth. My last blog on Dell asked What Will Dell Do Now? in consideration of HP winning the bidding war for 3PAR. Now we know what Dell will do as they begin soaring ahead into the virtual era with VIS.
The VIS architecture is a two layered approach to providing integrated systems for the virtual environment. At its foundation is what the company terms the Dell VIS Infrastructure (Servers, connectivity, and storage). At this level of the architecture all hardware is discovered and managed in an automated fashion by Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM). At its core, AIM consists of Scalent software which Dell has continued to enhance since its acquisition of the company. The list of AIM tested heterogeneous hardware supported is large and continues to grow as hardware passes discovery and management testing processes. AIM enables Dell to rapidly discover, configure and deploy compute, storage and networking requirements.
Tieing together the first and second layer of the VIS architecture is a set of Integration Suite offerings which assist customers with deployment of the second level of the architecture. The second level of the VIS architecture is termed the VIS Delivery Center and consists of the VIS Self Service Director and the VIS Director. VIS Self Service Director is geared for the do-it-yourself type of IT environment and VIS Director supplies an end-to-end infrastructure along with service monitoring and planning, all provided by Dell Services. In fact, Dell Services spans the entire VIS architecture and can be utilized by customers at any point within a VIS deployment.
Dell customer Black Board, an educational software company, shed light on their compute, network, and storage provider environment consisting of 850 managed host clients, 5 data centers and 3.5PBs of storage. Dell servers make up the bulk of the compute layer while Brocade's Foundry network switches serve as the mainstay for connectivity, and Network Appliance NAS storage is the sole storage provider. Even though VIS is an open architecture, Black Board clearly stated how happy and satisfied they have been with the service and support of all three vendors mentioned here and that they could not see any reason in the foreseeable future to move away from any of these vendors. In my opinion, this is one the better customer endorsements of technology that I have heard in years.
Subsequent to Dell's September announcement, I discussed the VIS concept with a number of server, network and storage vendors as well as many end-users. Aside from the server vendors, most vendors and end-users were positive on VIS and were glad to realize that VIS is designed as an open architecture. Server vendors were understandably cool in their reception of VIS given they have a virtual infrastructure architecture of their own under development, or have already announced one.