Home > Dell, Hardware > Dell releases the VRTX Platform

Dell releases the VRTX Platform

Today, Dell released a unified small business platform – the VRTX.  http://www.dell.com/ca/business/p/poweredge-vrtx/pd

 

This is essentially a 5U tower/rack version of the M1000e blade chassis, built for SMB.  They tout it as being “open office installable” due its noise and cooling requirements (or lack of).  Fully populated it’ll operate at < 44dB, and can operate in environments of 35C ambient sustained – which is just amazing.  On top of that, is a shared SAS PERC8 multipath backplane, allowing multi-host support for 12x 3.5” or 25x 2.5” drives.  With this, you can do shared storage without the SAN, switches, and cabling or complexity, which all sounds pretty good.

Except I think limiting it to SMB is a shame – or at least for now.  Here’s what I’d do with it…..

Dell VRTX System 5U

    4x M620 Blades, each with

        2x E5-2660 8 Core CPU

        24x 16GB DDR3 ECC (384GB total)

    12x4TB 3.5” RAID50 for around 30TB of space

That gets me 64 cores, 1.5TB of RAM, 30TB of ‘decent’ space, and 8 1GbE ports off the back.  This is a DR in a box.  Use a product like Veeam or some other SAN/Storage agnostic/abstracted VM backup to replicate your VM’s to a remote site in the cloud.  Your cloud.  The remote site could be jacked directly into a pair of HA firewalls, you don’t even need a switch (or pair of them).  Load balancers could/should be virtual.  Perhaps so could your firewalls.  So you now only need 5-8U from a CoLo to put this thing somewhere.  Or put it in any of your remote offices, with a UPS.  It would certainly do in a pinch.  I don’t know what the M620’s are retail from Dell, but blades like the above, can be found on eBay for $7K. 

Or, I’ve considered suggesting a single server solution such as a Dell R720xd configured up with RAM and CPU and internal disks.  We often have a need to do maintenance on the datacenter, and some things aren’t fully comfortable with this downtime or with being up during “non disruptive” work from a risk perspective.  You “can” but there are questions about if you “should”. 

What if you took the same system, and put it in the corner of your datacenter?  Put the secondary copies of your clustered, load balanced, DAG, AG, SoFS VM’s on it.  Performance may not be Tier 1, from an IOPS perspective.  But you could certainly fail over to all your secondary’s on this “cluster in a box” and pretty much take down all the rest of your datacenter at will for any kind of maintenance you like.  The only thing it needs is connectivity to the edge router/firewall/MPLS, and power – maybe even with a 2U UPS, just in case you do something stupid to the datacenter power feeds. 

I like it.  I like 10GbE storage infrastructures, but the cost can be a barrier, especially to a “small” environment.  Realistically, a 5 node cluster of R620’s configured like the M620’s above, yields 80 cores, 1.875TB RAM, and uses …… 5 ports each on an expensive 10GbE switch.  (Plus whatever the SAN uses).  To many, due to the host *count*, that’s “small”.  But when you look at host *resources*, that’s not so small any more.  

One might argue that there appears to be some single points of failure (the unit internals are very very multi-redundant, according to the documents I’ve seen), but “what about the disks, ooh, that’s scary”.  The reality is if you’re putting in a ‘small’ cluster like this with traditional shared storage (eg: ISCSI/NFS), even if you have redundant switches, and an Active/Active or Active/Passive SAN, you likely only have ONE SAN.  So you still end up with a very similar single point of failure.  Heck, we have decently large NetApp units in my office, and there’s still only “an HA pair” in the data center. 

Time to see if I can get my hands on one!

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