Dell Introduces New Dedicated AI Platform VxRail with VMware • The Register

Explore VMware Dell announced its latest kit co-developed with VMware, featuring updated VxRail HCI systems with network offload support to DPUs, support for VMware’s Tanzu Kubernetes grid in its subscription platform Apex is a turnkey platform for operating AI workloads.

The announcements from VMware’s former parent were timed to coincide with the VMware Explore event in San Francisco this week, where the cloud and virtualization industry is unveiling vSphere 8.0, the latest version of its platform.

This timing is no accident as the update to VxRail, Dell’s hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform for operating private clouds, now supports vSphere 8, vSAN 8 and version 4.5 VMware’s Cloud Foundation (VCF) hybrid cloud stack.

Dell VxRail

Dell VxRail

One of the new features in vSphere 8 is support for Data Processing Units or DPUs, also known as smartNICs, which can offload some of the processing tasks currently performed by the host processor, especially network-related tasks such as firewalls, overlay networks and security features.

VMware calls this feature vSphere Distributed Services Engine on DPU.

“DPUs are really meant to lay the foundation for the future and will be a game changer when it comes to growing workload demands on servers and the need for distributed and scalable virtualized network and security services,” said Shannon Champion, Vice President of Product Marketing at Dell.

It will also be supported on Dell PowerEdge systems, Champion said, but VxRail is the first to run it, delivered as an out-of-the-box solution.

At least initially, DPU support only covers Nvidia Bluefield-2 and Pensando DSC-25 DPUs, both of which are based on Arm CPU cores.

One of the features of vSAN 8 is the vSAN Express storage architecture, described as a single-tier HCI storage solution, intended to deliver optimized performance, increased efficiency and resiliency, Champion said.

“Performance is up to 4x better and all NVMe VxRail models have been optimized for the VSAN Express storage architecture, which will allow users to run more high-performance applications in VxRail environments,” said- she declared.

Dell also announced VxRail Modular Hardened Nodes designed for edge deployments. These are scalable from two to 64 nodes and purpose-built with half-width blades, but the most notable feature, according to Champion, is a built-in hardware witness capability that can store VM metadata.

“The hardware witness removes the need for powering and remote data center infrastructure administration, which is especially useful in high-latency, low-bandwidth locations,” she said.

These VxRail modular hardened nodes target industries including retail, military, navy and manufacturing, and will be available globally by the end of 2022, Dell said.

Dell also talked about its dedicated AI and machine learning platform, using VxRail as the core infrastructure.

The Dell Validated Designs for AI Platform – the Machine Learning Platform – uses machine learning models to help customers develop AI-powered applications, according to Dell.

Now available globally, it integrates VxRail with Nvidia GPUs, Dell PowerScale storage and PowerSwitch networking, while the software layer includes Nvidia’s H20.ai platform and AI Enterprise Suite.

“It’s kind of like AI doing AI,” Champion said. “And this integrated solution includes H20 Ai, which is unmanned AI for automating machine learning, as well as Nvidia AI Enterprise Suite for developing and deploying cloud-native AI, delivered on VMware vSphere with Tanzu on a Dell infrastructure stack validated and optimized by engineers.

Dell has also expanded its Apex portfolio of IT infrastructure-as-a-service solutions, specifically its Apex cloud services with VMware Cloud, which now has the option to add Dell-managed VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) services, which allows them to provision and operate Kubernetes clusters through the vSphere UI and run containerized workloads as well as in virtual machines.

“Companies will be able to accelerate their development efforts by building, testing and running cloud-native applications alongside traditional applications on the same platform,” said Chad Dunn, vice president of product management at Dell Apex.

“Often we see customers balancing the infrastructure needs of more modern development of container technologies, versus more traditional development of VM-based workloads. And managing that balance between those two can sometimes be tricky.”

This option is available now in the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand with additional worldwide availability to come.

Apex Private Cloud and Apex Hybrid Cloud also now have compute-only options that allow customers to independently scale compute and storage resources, Dunn said. These can be connected to Dell’s Apex data storage services instead.

“We’re seeing customers who want a mix of the hyperconverged flavor using vSAN as the underlying storage, but for certain workloads they want to be able to take advantage of external storage, whether it’s traditional arrays, PowerStore, PowerMax , or very specifically, in our case, Apex Data Storage Services,” Dunn said.

It will be available in the US, UK, France, and Germany from September, with more territories to follow. ®

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