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Dell PowerEdge VRTX is a computer hardware product line from Dell. It is a mini-blade chassis with built-in storage system. The VRTX comes in two models: a 19" rack version that is 5 rack units high or as a stand-alone tower system.
The VRTX system is partially based on the Dell M1000e blade-enclosure and shares some technologies and components. There are also some differences with that system. The M1000e can support anEqualLogic storage area network that connects the servers to the storage via iSCSI, while the VRTX uses a shared PowerEdge RAID Controller (PERC). A second difference is the option to add PCIe cards and assign them to any of the four servers.
Servers: The system can hold up to four PowerEdge blade servers: the PE-M520 or the PE-M620, the same blades as used in the M1000e but for use in the VRTX they need to run specific BIOS and firmware to use the shared disk-storage system.
Storage: For on-board storage there is room for 12 x 3,5" HDD's or 25 x 2,5" HDD/SSD's that connect to the servers via a single PERC 8 controller (plans for 2nd shared PERC controller for redundancy at a later date
Networking is provided via a 8 port 'pass-through' module - offering the option to connect two 1G NIC's from each server to any external ethernet switch. Or you can use the internal switch: this supports internal connection of all 4 on-motherboard NIC's of the servers, but still only provides 8 external 'uplinks' to the outside world. The I/O modules used on the VRTX have another size then the I/O modules of the M1000e, so you are not able to use the I/O modules that are available for that chassis system. A 10Gb I/O module is planned for future release.
Management: A CMC is responsible for the management of the entire system and it is possible to add a 2nd CMC for redundant management. The CMC is similar to the CMC used in the M1000e chassis. Connection to the CMC's is done via separate RJ45 ethernet connectors.
Power and cooling: The system comes with four PSU's at 110 or 230V AC. There is no option to use 60V DC PSU's which is often used in the telecommunication industry. Depending on the power-cable used you can connect the system to a standard 230V outlet or connect it to a PDU or UPS. Each 1100 Watt PSU has a built-in fan. For cooling of the server-modules there are four blower-modules, each containing two fans, and for cooling of the rest of the chassis there are 6 internal fans: these can only be reached by opening the system. The fans used are the same units as used in the PowerEdge R-720xd rack-server.
KVM: Unlike the M1000e the VRTX doesn't have a separate KVM module, but it is built into the main chassis. The system only supports USB keyboard and mouse. Control of the KVM function is done via the mini LCD screen. These USB ports as well as the 15 pin VGA connector are at the front of the system.
USB: The USB connectors are only for connecting keyboard and mouse: it doesn't support external storage via USB.
LCD: Via the mini-LCD screen at the front of the system you can find status information of the system, configure some basic settings (such as CMC IP address) and manage the built-in KVM switch. The LCD screen functions can be controlled via a 5 button navigation system, similar to the system used on the M1000e.
Serial: A single RS-232 serial communication port is provided at the back of the system. This connector is only used for local configuration to the CMC: it doesn't allow you to use this connector as serial port of a server in the system.
Expansion slots: The system provides space for five PCIe expension cards and 3 'full height' PCIe expension cards. Via the management controller you can assign each slot to a specific server. You can only assign a PCIe slot to a server when the server is powered off as the PCIe card is recognized and initialized by the server BIOS at startup.
The VRTX is targeted at two different user-groups: either local offices of large enterprises where the majority of the IT services are centrally provided via remote datacenters - where the VRTX system provides local functions such as a relative small virtualisation platform to provide locally needed services as VDI workstations, local Exchange or Lync server and local storage facilities. The entire system will normally be managed by the central IT department via the CMC (for the chassis) and some IT manager as SCCM or KACE for the servers running on the system.
The other intended public is the SME market with limited IT requirements. The tower model is designed to run in a normal office environment. Dell claims that the noise level of the VRTX system is very low and can be installed in a normal office environment: there is no need to install the system in a special server-room. It is possible however to convert a tower-VRTX into a rack-mounted VRTX.
The VRTX system supports fewer operating systems than the server-blades (M520/M620) do. The only operating systems supported to run on the blades are: Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2012. Support for running Windows Server 2003 is only supported as virtual machines on Hyper-V or ESXi. The main intended and marketed use will be as a system running Hyper-V or ESXi
At launch no Linux based operating systems are supported, mainly because there is no Linux driver available for the MegaRAID controller for shared storage access. There are plans to include Linux support in the future.
Although not available at launch in June 2013 Dell has announced additional functionality. This includes:
- Support for dual PERC (=PowerEdge Raid Controller) for redundancy
- Support for 10Gb ethernet switch and pass-through modules
- Support for additional operating systems, mainly Linux based. This mainly depends on an available driver for the MegaRAID controller for the shared storage.
- Dell PowerEdge - main article on Dell PowerEdge server family
- CMC - on the M1000e page
- Chris Preimesberger (7 June 2013). "Why Dell may have hit home with new VRTX server". eWeek. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "Dell PowerEdge VRTX". Specification Sheet. Dell. July 8, 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- Chris Cowley's BLOG: Dell announces VRTX, 4 June 2013. Visited: 30 June 2013
- Dell reference architectures with 3 typical setup's of VRTX: Exchange 2013 on Hyper-v, Hyper-V 2012 server and VRTX as VMware ESXi cluster, visited: 4 August, 2013
- ServerWatch.com: Dell debuts VRTX for converged infrastructure, section 'Windows Only'. 5 June 2013. Visited: 30 June 2013