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Dell Technologies makes VMware linchpin of hybrid cloud, data center as a service, end user strategies

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Dell Technologies lays out its hybrid cloud plan with a heavy dose of VMware
Dell Technologies’ crown jewel in its portfolio is VMware and the technology giant is now making it the glue that holds its portfolio of companies together.

Dell Technologies’ crown jewel in its portfolio is VMware and the technology giant is now making it the glue that holds its portfolio of companies together.

At the launch of its Dell Techologies World conference in Las Vegas, the company outlined a hybrid cloud strategy that aims to knit its data center and hybrid cloud technologies with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and IBM Cloud with more to come. The effort is dubbed the Dell Technologies Cloud. VMware is also launching VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, which will include vSphere, vSAN and NSX running on Dell EMC’s infrastructure. 

In addition, Dell Technologies is launching a data center as a service effort where it manages infrastructure in a model that lines up with cloud computing 1-year and 3-year deals. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is also designed for companies running their own data centers, but want a cloud operating model. Dell Technologies data center as a service effort is built on a VMWare concept highlighted last year called Project Dimension. 

“Dell Technologies writ large is in a unique position to bring a strong, rational hybrid cloud solution to market,” said Matt Baker, senior vice president of Dell EMC strategy and planning. Baker added that most of Dell Technologies customers use on-premises infrastructure and private and public cloud services.

“Customers are working with 3 to 5 clouds and maybe more, but want consistency from an operating model standpoint,” said Baker.

In a slide, the moving parts of the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform and data center as a service effort go like this:

dell-technologies-cloud.png

Dell Technologies’ hybrid cloud plans also reflect how VMware and its parent are moving closer together for strategic and portfolio planning. For the last year, Dell EMC and VMware have been working more closely and understanding how two worlds–one hardware driven and one software driven–can align. In an interesting twist, a lot of the legwork needed to blend Dell EMC’s infrastructure more tightly with VMware was done to make the highly successful VMware-Amazon Web Services partnership work.

Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO, said cloud providers have to work together for today’s and tomorrow’s workloads. Gelsinger was on stage at Dell Technologies World with Jeff Clarke, vice chairman of products and operations at Dell Technologies. Both executives have been working more closely together in an attempt to eliminate hybrid cloud silos.

“Cloud silos are the new bane of our existence,” said Gelsinger.

To that end, Dell Technologies and VMware forged a partnership with Microsoft to connect Azure with what Dell and VMware have forged as well as workspaces. 

In a nutshell, Dell Technologies’ cloud strategy is designed to reflect a few key realities:

  • Enterprises have a hybrid approach to the cloud.
  • Many enterprises are using multiple cloud providers.
  • Dell Technologies has a bevy of assets such as hyperconverged systems and software such as SecureWorks that can play well for the on-premises side of hybrid cloud approaches.
  • The biggest advantage Dell Technologies has is VMware, which has built out its ability to span multiple clouds as well as containers.
  • Enterprises are getting accustomed to traditional enterprises connecting on-prem with the public cloud.
  • There are hybrid cloud efforts that at least rhyme somewhat with Dell Technologies Cloud and data center as a service. Oracle has Cloud at Customer, HPE and Cisco have broad hybrid portfolios with platforms to connect private and public compute, IBM has IBM Cloud Private and AWS has an on-prem play with AWS Outpost. Amazon AWS: Complete business guide to the world’s largest provider of cloud services
  • If Dell Technologies can integrate its various units and put VMware and its hardware systems on the same cadence there are selling opportunities.

In that context, Dell Technologies’ approach lines up. When Dell acquired EMC the storage giant was run as a loose federation. When Dell Technologies completed the purchase it better integrated its units from a strategic perspective, but largely looked like a mutual fund. In the last year, Dell Technologies has worked more closely with VMware and used technologies from its various units to hit themes.

Michael Dell’s ambition was to create a one-stop provider of infrastructure. In 2016, he said: “We don’t have to cater to short term thinking. We can think in decades. We will be the trusted provider for infrastructure for the next industrial revolution.”

But to move beyond a technology conglomerate and one that can take various independent assets and combine them for new functions, Dell Technologies needs a heavy dose of VMware. Here’s a screen shot of VMware running on Dell EMC hyperconverged infrastructure. 

vmware-cloud-on-dell-emc-1.jpg

Aligning hardware and software releases

One core theme from Dell Technologies is that its converged and hyperconverged infrastructure will roll out at the same time with VMware updates. For instance, Dell EMC’s VXrail and VMware Cloud Foundation were designed to go together with a similar product and development cadence.

Dell Technologies will also leverage VMWare’s Cloud Provider network, which provides as seamless experience among multiple providers. At Dell Technologies World, VMware and Dell Technologies Cloud integration will be demonstrated for workloads moving across multiple clouds and containers via a single console.

dell-technologies-cloud-available-now.png

The combination of Dell Technologies and a more tightly coupled VMware will target markets like disaster recovery as a service. Baker said that Dell Technologies Cloud will offer multiple service-based components from portfolio companies such as Boomi, SecureWorks and Pivotal. “We can bring capabilities, engines and tooling together into useful bundles,” said Baker. Each of these companies will also have ecosystems on their own that can be integrated.

For customers, the Dell EMC and VMware integration promises one-click hardware ordering, automated patching, monitoring and upgrades, governance from data center to edge as well as the ability to modernize applications via containers and Kubernetes. 

With VMware’s partnership with AWS and IBM Cloud already hooked into Dell Technologies Cloud, Baker said it will be actively working to connect with the largest public cloud providers. “We are not having to knock their doors down. We fully intend to onboard the big three loud players plus VMware has Alicloud in Asia,” said Baker.

Perhaps the best sign that VMware and Dell Technologies has tightly integrated is the data center as a service effort. “We weren’t always best aligned and we addressed that,” said Baker. “Data center as a service is the full realization of it.”

dell-data-center-as-a-service.png

The data center as a service effort is in initial beta with customers and made to cover large scale deployments as well as edge computing. According to Baker, Dell Technologies data center as a service will be available in the second half. Management of the data center service will utilize the Dell Technologies service delivery network.

Extending to the end user too

Dell Technologies also outlined a Unified Workspace concept that will also include various elements of the company’s portfolio including (not surprisingly) VMware.

Brett Hansen, vice president and general manager of client software and security solutions, said Unified Workspace has elements available today such as VMware Workspace One, but the idea over time is to free up IT support tasks over time.

Hansen noted that worker productivity is far from optimized. In fact, the work experience is typically siloed by device. The Unified Workspace is designed to do things like sort top emails, fix issues before they happen, deliver files as you need them based on machine learning and manage multiple devices.

“As a user it’s not a great IT experience. An employee that is highly productive is an asset,” said Hansen.

Dell Technologies’ approach to the Unified Workspace rhymes with its tactics on hybrid cloud. The company plans to mash up various assets, learn from Dell Technologies’ device telemetry and reimagine experiences.

For starters, Hansen said Dell Technologies is looking to take the friction out of deployments, patches, new devices and security overall. In addition user specific images can be loaded onto Dell machines at the factory so an employee would have all the preloaded preferences and apps available instantly. “There would be significant time savings,” said Hansen.

The Unified Workspace is in beta testing now. Hansen said the offering will be available as a subscription, license and bundle with Dell PCs and services. “VMware will be a key component of this to get visibility, insights and automation,” said Hansen. 

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2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat sells out completely

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The latest announcement will come as no surprise to anyone who follows Dodge muscle cars. Most car guys and gals knew last summer when Dodge announced it would build the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat for six months that every one of the units would be gobbled up. Some speculated that a six-month build window meant there would be lots of the vehicles made.

Production has been limited to 2000 units, and all 2000 of them have been spoken for. Reports indicate it took about three months for Dodge to fill every build slot it had available. Orders stopped in January 2021, but Dodge does say that there may be some dealer-allocated units left available for a limited time.

What that means is there may be some inventory available on dealer lots, but you can bet they will be massively marked up. The starting price for the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is $82,490, including the destination charge. The claim to fame for the Durango Hellcat is the supercharged 710 horsepower V-8 that makes 645 pound-feet of torque.

The SUV features all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 3.5 seconds. It would make the ultimate tow vehicle with an 8700-pound towing capacity. Deliveries are expected to start this summer, and each buyer gets a free day of high-speed driving at the Bondurant High-Performance Driving School in Chandler, Arizona.

One bit of bad news has surfaced from Dodge head Tim Kuniskis on the Durango Hellcat returning for 2022. He stated that emissions regulations would prevent the V-8 from being packed into the Durango after the 2021 model year. Specifically, 2022 model year vehicles are held to new evaporative emission requirements the Hellcat doesn’t meet in that platform.

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Paul Walker’s beautiful 1980 BMW M1 AHG heads to auction

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Paul Walker was an incredibly popular actor that tragically died very early in his life. Walker left behind a daughter and other family members, along with an incredible collection of cars. The BMW M1 seen in the images here was part of the AE Performance collection chaired by Walker and Roger Rodas before being acquired in 2014 by the current owner.

The vehicle is chassis number WBS0000009430109 and reportedly came from the factory as a solid white vehicle. It received its BMW blue and red livery paint job as part of an AHG Studie treatment. Every car sent to AHG received a unique paint job of the customer’s choice by Hermann Altmiks, and each of them had “altmiks lackdesign” painted under the left rear tail light.

The package also included aerodynamic panels inspired by M1 racecars. Those components included a new front air dam, side skirts, and rear spoiler. The front bumper and surrounding fascia on the car did receive a repaint in 2016. The car has flared fenders and three-piece 16-inch BBS wheels shod with modern tires.

Ventilated disc brakes are at all four corners, and the car is essentially restored to like-new condition with standard suspension. The interior features black leather and checkered cloth on the doorbell inserts, headliner, and rear firewall. The car does have air conditioning, power seats, and a cassette player.

Power comes from an in-line-six cylinder engine with fuel injection and six individual throttle bodies. Cars tuned by AHG were upgraded to produce 350 horsepower, and the vehicle has a manual transmission. Currently, it’s up for auction at Bringatrailer with nine days to go. As of writing, the vehicle is bid up to $390,000. It’s a beautiful car, and with celebrity ownership in its past, odds are the price will go higher.

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2021 Infiniti QX80 Review – Four-wheeled fratricide

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Sometimes buying smart involves hoops and hurdles, and other times it’s as easy as two dealerships probably occupying the same lot. So goes it for the 2021 Infiniti QX80, the automaker’s biggest and burliest SUV, making its pitch for seven or eight seat excellence but finding Nissan may have stolen its thunder along the way.

The QX80 has road presence, not least because of its scale. A full 17.5 feet long and over 6.5 feet wide, it’s unapologetically huge, draped in chrome and riding – in Premium Select 4WD trim – on 22-inch forged dark aluminum-alloy wheels. For the 2021 model year the line-up kicks off at $69,050 (plus $1,395 destination) for the QX80 Luxe; Premium Select adds all-wheel drive among other things, and starts at $76,450.

Under the vast hood is Infiniti’s familiar 5.6-liter V8 engine. It now produces a hefty 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, funneled to all four wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission and a two speed transfer case. It’ll tow up to 8,500 pounds, and do 0-60 mph in about six seconds.

You’ll want a straight road for that. Point the QX80 at the horizon and plant your right foot, and the beefy SUV hunkers down and surges forward. It doesn’t feel so much fast, as potent: I’ve never faced down a rhinoceros as it builds up to a gallop, but I suspect it’s a similar experience to the Infiniti’s acceleration.

At 5,706 pounds it weighs more than the average white rhino, however, and so corners are better taken at more sedate speeds. With the suspension dialed in at the soft end of the scale there’s no shortage of body roll if you try to hustle too rapidly, though the upshot is the sort of plush ride you used to have to drive a 70s Lincoln to achieve. Factor in “you only wanted to use one finger, right?” levels of power steering boost, and it’s clear this behemoth was made for cruising.

Within that niche, it does admirably. The V8 thrums in the background, but generally noise isolation keeps the irksome world outside at a long arm’s distance. Infiniti’s 7-speed slurs discreetly, but an eighth ratio for even quieter highway work wouldn’t go awry. Inside, meanwhile, there’s decent space for as many as eight, though usually Infiniti outfits the QX80 with seven seats. The second row is no compromise, with Premium Select spec getting captain’s chairs and a large center console between them.

The third row is a little smaller, but not so much that only the smallest kids need be slotted back there. Power adjustment helps balance their space with the trunk: there’s 16.6 cu-ft with all the seats up, 49.6 cu-ft with the third-row down, and a positively capacious 95.1 cu-ft with the third and second row down. The seats themselves are a little bulky, however, particularly the captain’s chairs.

Infiniti doesn’t stint on the leather, and there’s tri-zone climate control, heated – though not cooled – front seats, a power tailgate and power moonroof, remote start, and a heated steering wheel. A 360-degree camera, blind spot warnings and assistance, and lane departure warnings and detection are standard, too, as is Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Bose 13-speaker audio system. Adaptive cruise is standard, too.

That all looks good on a checklist, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Infiniti’s InTouch Dual HD infotainment system looks dated and is frustrating to use. The graphics – particularly in the navigation system – are tired, even with a recent update, and the whole thing feels disjointed. Factor in the profusion of buttons on the steering wheel and center console, and it just doesn’t feel as modern and sophisticated as its rivals or, indeed, a SUV with a near-$80k sticker as tested.

Infiniti has a problem, then, and like in the best horror stories it’s coming from inside the house. Nissan’s Armada has always been the QX80’s more affordable sibling, and since the 2021 Armada revamp it’s no longer the value compromise but the sensible pick, period.

Exterior styling is subjective, but there’s no argument that Nissan’s upgrade to the Armada’s center console puts it leagues ahead of what the QX80 makes do with. A single 12.3-inch wide-aspect touchscreen handles the heavy-lifting, with a straightforward panel of knobs and buttons for the HVAC. It looks better, and feels faster and more intuitive than the Infiniti’s system, and the fact is that the rest of the cabin feels eight- or nine-tenths to what the QX80 offers in terms of materials and comfort.

A top-spec 2021 Armada Platinum 4×4 is $67,900 plus destination, however, or about $10k less than the starting price of this midrange 2021 QX80 Premium Select 4WD. Both share the same engine – and the same driving dynamics – and both are fairly thirsty, the Infiniti rated for 13 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 15 mpg combined. I got about that with my own mixed driving.

Perhaps there’s more cachet in putting a QX80 on your driveway than the Armada, but seldom has paying for a prestige badge resulted in such an obvious compromise. The new Armada has gone from nipping at Infiniti’s heels to overtaking it, and it’s tough to argue against the wise money getting spent on the Nissan.

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