Google And Dell Pave The Way For File Data In The Cloud

A year ago, Dell Technologies made a significant push deeper into the fast-growing hybrid cloud space, unveiling its Dell Technologies Cloud initiative that includes hybrid cloud platforms that take advantage of the tight integration of technologies from Dell and VMware, which is majority owned by the larger company. The platforms leverage the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), designed to enable enterprises to manage virtual machines (VMs) and containerized applications in the hybrid cloud tightly integrated with the Dell EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).

As we noted at the time, platform options include Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, which includes both VxRail and VCF with flexibility regarding servers, storage and networking and provides an easier way to migrate workloads between on-premises environments and private and public clouds, and a Dell Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service, a fully managed service that brings cloud-like capabilities on premises and is based on VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, the productization of the Project Dimension program that VMware had introduced in 2018.

The overall cloud initiative was Dell’s way of pushing into the highly competitive cloud space that had not only traditional OEMs like Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco Systems extending their reach into the public cloud through both innovation and partnerships, but top-tier public cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud looking for ways to create a presence in the datacenter though both hardware (AWS’ Outposts) and software (Azure Stack and Google’s Anthos).

It makes sense. Enterprises are moving more workloads and data – including mission-critical applications – into the public cloud to take advantage of such benefits as the greater agility, easy scalability and lower costs, which come with not having to invest in datacenter hardware or the people and time needed to manage such environments. However, for security, compliance and other reasons, they’re keeping some workloads in their own datacenters, creating hybrid environments, and using multiple public cloud providers (a mulitcloud situation).

Introducing OneFS for Google Cloud

The public cloud – with its infinite scalability and access to a broad range of development tools – is understandably attractive to organizations, according to Brian Payne, vice president of cloud product management at Dell.

“We’ve got customers that are off looking at how they modernize an media entertainment app or how they apply artificial intelligence to a given problem they have as a business and they discover that they don’t have the right types of developers, the right types of tools, or they don’t want to invest the time because they don’t have it to get a product to market quickly or an offer to market quickly to go figure out what framework they want to use and how they put all this together,” Payne tells The Next Platform. “The public cloud offers pretty nice services with that regard.”

But it doesn’t have everything they need, which was a driver behind a partnership that Dell and Google Cloud announced this week. The companies unveiled OneFS for Google Cloud, an offering that enables enterprises to more easily to manage data-intensive workloads between on-premises datacenters and the Google Cloud. It leverages Dell EMC Isilon filesystems on premises and the analytics and compute services offered in Google Cloud to allow businesses to move workloads as large as 50 petabytes in a single filesystem between the two environments without having to make changes in the applications. It addresses the challenges facing organizations around performance and scalability when trying to store file data in public clouds.

“What Google Cloud doesn’t have – and what customers have discovered and told us – is the right file services in order to feed that AI engine to generate whatever results it is that the business users are looking for,” Payne says. “That’s where we saw an opportunity to partner with Google to offer within their environment, within their portal, their process engines and pair up their services with our OneFS file solution. That file solution can give the customers the enterprise-class capabilities that they need, the performance [and] scaling. We’re talking about read-through performance that is above and beyond alternatives that are available today, talking about file capacity that is going into the extreme 50-petabyte range, these kinds of capabilities that are just not available in that domain. We’re pairing those up. When I when I say that we’re looking comprehensively at what our customers need, we said, ‘Look, there’s a great opportunity. Yes, there’s some compute going into the cloud, but ultimately the customers need this storage capability here and we can pair that up and make it available to our customers.'”

There are myriad industries where being able to move and storage huge amounts of file data in the public cloud would be important, including genomics research and media and entertainment companies that have to manage massive files like 4K video, he says. Autonomous vehicles are another area.

“They’re generating today tons and tons and tons of data each time they do a test drive and that’s getting uploaded into an environment,” Payne says. “Then they want to go run machine learning around that and then generate understanding and ultimately feed an algorithm that enables that autonomous driving. That’s an example where a company may be in a situation where they’re behind in the race, don’t have time to find and recruit the developers and build the capabilities and build the frameworks. ‘I just need to get to it quick. I’ve got the data. I need to get it to the right location paired up with the service to get to a result faster.’ They’re searching for a solution in a case where they say build vs. buy it, but don’t have time to build. Here’s where we’re filling out a key part of the solution on the storage side.”

He declines to say whether there are plans to expand the OneFS solution to other cloud providers like AWS and Azure, but says “the approach is one that we will extend. As we’re think about cloud, we’re thinking about the broader ecosystem and you’ve got to bring elements of the ecosystem together to package up a solution for a given problem. This approach that we’re taking here is certainly something that will extend as we build out an ecosystem around Dell Technologies Cloud.”

Building Out the Cloud Platform

The introduction of the Google Cloud partner also came as Dell unveiled enhancements to the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, most of which highlight the tight integration between Dell and VMware technologies, which Payne says is a key differentiator from other OEMs that also are pushing their way into the cloud. That includes support in the cloud platform of VMware’s Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and VCF 4.0 on the same VxRail infrastructure, enabling organizations to use the same tools for containerized workloads and traditional virtual machines. That capability comes as VMware gets ready to launch its Google Cloud VMware Engine this summer, which will enable enterprises to move and run VMware environments in Google Cloud.

Dell also is looking to make it easier for companies to embrace its Dell Technologies on Demand subscription program, starting with a configuration option with as few as four VxRail nodes. Before configurations started at eight nodes, which might be too much for some companies, Payne says. At the same time, the company also is unveiling a higher end configuration that includes a 42-rack infrastructure that includes more processors cores, memory options and NVM-Express all-flash storage. The vendor also is offering more appliance options for Dell EMC SD-WAN Solution powered by VMware and based on technology from VeloCloud, which VMware bought in 2017. The software defined-WAN solution is the entry point for companies that are coming onto VMware Cloud on Dell EMC and looking to run for such workloads as voice-over-IP, video streaming and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

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