Dell Technologies Adds CSI Support to All-Flash Array

Dell Technologies has added support for a Container Storage Interface (CSI) plugin to the Dell Unity XT all-Flash storage array.

In addition, Dell announced it is adding support for the VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) plugin, designed to make it easier for organizations that have standardized on VMware to unify the management of storage and compute in on-premises IT environments.

As the number of stateful containerized applications increases, storage vendors are racing to add support for CSI to external storage systems connected to Kubernetes clusters. Dell also expects that, given the latency-sensitive nature of those applications, many of them will require access to an all-Flash array.

Dell’s approach to containers and Kubernetes is to ride the investments that VMware is making in integrating Kubernetes with VMware environments in the form of Pivotal Container Service, a distribution of Kubernetes developed by VMware in collaboration with Pivotal Software. Since then VMware, which is owned by Dell, has moved to acquire Pivotal, and launched a cloud platform dubbed VMware Tanzu for building and deploying applications on any Kubernetes cluster.

Sam Grocott, senior vice president for Dell EMC marketing, says the current strategy for Dell as a provider of infrastructure is to focus on the needs of VMware customers that make up the bulk of the enterprise IT market. However, he concedes it would be uncharacteristic of Dell to ignore any opportunity to sell additional hardware as the market continues to evolve.

The larger battle ahead revolves around where the control plane for hybrid cloud computing environments will reside. As organizations embrace Kubernetes, it becomes feasible to start centralizing the management of multiple clouds. Rather than relying on control planes that are being extended by cloud service providers into on-premises IT environments, Grocott says Dell is betting organizations will prefer to retain ownership of that control plane by leveraging platforms such as Dell EMC PowerOne, a managed service based on Kubernetes and the Ansible IT automation environment. Dell has already signaled its plans to extend the reach of Dell EMC PowerOne into the public cloud realm.

It will take a while for the battle for the control plane in the enterprise to play out fully. Cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google recognize that not all workloads are moving into the cloud. As a result, each offers some variant of an on-premises offering. In the case of AWS, that includes IT infrastructure it has built, while Microsoft and Google are partnering with infrastructure providers such as Dell to deploy on-premises instances of their cloud operating environments.

Regardless of the path chosen, however, cloud computing is starting to dissipate in the sense that if everything is a cloud, the only real difference is whether that cloud is running on shared public infrastructure versus a dedicated private platform. The next challenge is figuring out how to manage all platforms in a way that reduces the total cost of owning and operating them.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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