Last week I sat down with Kevin Noreen, Marketing Director for Systems Management at Dell, to talk about the customer-driven innovation found in PowerEdge VRTX, a new platform from Dell announced today at Dell Enterprise Forum. You can find a lot of information elsewhere about the integration of servers, storage, and networking into a single, compact solution. All of that is impressive enough, but the innovation within the systems management solution on PowerEdge VRTX deserves highlighting. Here is our conversation:

SV: Kevin, the systems management found on PowerEdge VRTX represents a real evolution for your team. Tell me a little bit about how you were able to innovate for the customer without risking leaving the customer behind.

KN: You have to look at starting with what customers are using today. You don’t want to have a customer have to learn new tools. How do you take the innovative pieces that are found with PowerEdge VRTX, and the new markets that it’s going to be put into, and evolve the existing tools that you have? We asked, what are the new things, and how do we take those elements and marry them with the hardware technology and the management infrastructure to allow them to manage this new system?

Let’s talk about the hardware for a minute. This is a brand new offering from Dell, and it offers management of storage, servers, and networking all at once. Tell us a little bit about how that works and why that’s important for the customer.

From a customer perspective, they now have a single entity that includes an enclosure, servers, storage and networking. Well you want to manage that with a single tool. We already had a tool that was managing our modular architecture. And when you look at VRTX it’s a modular architecture also. So we augmented our chassis management controller, which people are already familiar with, by adding management for the shared storage infrastructure into the technology.  To complete the customer experience we added the i/o capability for managing the switch and the networking components, all from the same console.

What are the highlights of that from the customer point of view, being able to manage shared storage?

The customer gets a cost effective, SAN like capability, which now allows you to take advantage of virtualization and high availability. Being able to configure that from a single tool, the same tool you’re using to manage your servers and your i/o, provides a more efficient methodology for managing the lifecycle of the system as opposed to bouncing around multiple tools.

Slot assignment is also a way to leverage the flexibility of PowerEdge VRTX. You have the capability of adding in expansion cards and via the simple chassis management controller interface assigning them specifically to a server that resides inside the system. That gives you the control and flexibility to build out a multisystem environment.

That’s where the innovation comes in, while still maintaining the familiarity for the client. We’ve been talking about the one-to-one level of managing VRTX, but tell me a little bit about the one-to-many.

Most of these systems will be geographically dispersed. They won’t be sitting in a data center, they’ll be in a retail store or a doctor’s office or maybe at an airport. We gave our users an “eye in the sky,” by being able to look at a geographical map that will show all of the systems. Dell’s OpenManage Essentials one-to-many console provides administrators with a geographical view of where these systems are located. Customers can quickly manage them by launching the CMC, which provides management of the entire system that we talked about before, directly from that geographical view.

Kevin thanks so much for talking with me today, and I know we’re all really looking forward to hearing from our channel partners and customers about this.

My pleasure, thank you.

To see Kevin in action, and learn more about systems management for PowerEdge VRTX, watch the video below: