PowerEdge, vSAN and the Rise of the Server-Centric Data Center

If you have been hearing a lot about Hyper-Converged Infrastructure lately, it is because this market has been growing at an explosive rate – 60% annually according to Gartner[i]. Hyper-Converged technology collapses storage and servers into a single system managed as one using HCI software, resulting in cloud-like operational and cost efficiencies.

The big story is that with the rapid growth of HCI, the data center is transforming from a traditional three-tiered architecture to a modern and much simpler server-centric architecture. As forecasted by Wikibon[ii], HCI and HyperScale will become the dominant storage technologies in the next 10 years. Traditional storage will not go away, but will gradually become relegated to special workloads.

The data center architecture relies on three physically and logically separate sub-systems (servers, shared-storage and storage networks) and has been the hallmark of the data centers for decades. While each of these sub-systems is highly optimized, as a whole this architecture is complex to manage, expensive and unsuitable for competing with today’s cloud services.

HCI is changing the data-center architecture dramatically. With HCI, the data center architecture is moving to a singular software-defined system where storage is built into the server and networking functions are increasingly incorporated into the servers. This transformation is enabled by several technological advancements:


  • CPU densities are increasing towards hexa/octa core systems, enabling servers to perform functions that in the past required single-purpose storage devices
  • High density flash devices at low price points are becoming more prevalent, enabling small foot-print servers with terabytes of built-in storage capacity
  • High speed local storage (NVMe/PCIe) and network interconnect (100GB, RDMA), enabling innovative new server architecture


  • Emergence of HCI software that integrates virtualized compute resources with management of shared storage based on a common Ethernet network and capable of running any workload
  • Incorporation of functions that previously required specialized storage subsystems into software that manages and pool resources of the x86-based hyper-converged system stack

 Customers are transitioning to HCI so rapidly because it cuts traditional three-tier architecture capital cost by 40%[iii] and reduces operating cost by 50%[iv].

PowerEdge and VMware vSAN

Designed with HCI in mind, the new generation of PowerEdge servers offer 200% more low-latency NVMe drives than prior generation, up to five times total flash storage, and a 25% storage density improvement. The compute performance, storage density and versatility of the PowerEdge platform makes it a perfect match for vSAN.

Natively built into VMware vSphere, vSAN manages storage at the VM policy level directly from vCenter. This enables VM admins to manage storage with virtually no additional training. With enterprise-class storage capabilities including compression, de-duplication and erasure coding, you can use vSAN for demanding business critical applications. And uniquely, you can also encrypt data at rest with no need for specialized drives.

In contrast to slow-to-adopt lower-volume traditional storage, with vSAN and PowerEdge servers, you no longer need to wait for new storage innovations. High-volume server-economics bring you new technologies, like NVMe and 3D XPoint non-volatile memory, immediately when they become available on the servers.

Buy or Build: You Choose

With a choice of buy or build solutions, your transformation to server-centric data center is dramatically easier. If you need to move quickly and are looking for the best TCO, you can choose VxRail. Dell EMC VxRail is a vSAN-powered HCI appliance built on PowerEdge servers. Pre-built and pre-configured with hundreds of discreet configurations to choose from, VxRail offers both flexibility and convenience.

If you have the skills and the resources, choose the Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes – certified vSAN configurations for PowerEdge servers.

The transition to a modern server-centric software defined data center is a “once in a generation” transformation; one designed to simplify, modernize and bring more agility to the data center. The new generation of PowerEdge servers will make this new architecture all the more compelling.


(Additional assistance by Jeff Christy, VMware Product Manager, Dell EMC)

[i] Forecast Analysis: Integrated Systems, Worldwide, 1Q17 Update, Gartner

[ii] Wikibon Server SAN Research Project, 2016

[iii] Based on a study by VMware

[iv] Based on IDC report, Reviewing the Current State of Hyperconvergence and Real World Benefits of VMware Virtual SAN Deployments, July 2016.

About the Author: Hanoch Eiron

Hanoch is the lead product marketing manager for VxRail at VMware. He has helped grow the converged and hyper-converged markets since their inception in 2010. Hanoch holds an MBA from UC Berkeley and has presented at various industry events and authored blogs and articles.