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Dell Gets Real With Virtualization Strategy

Dell Gets Real With Virtualization Strategy

Dell on Wednesday pushed out a wide line of virtualization hardware and services meant to target large and small businesses. Its strategy includes consulting services for implementation and maintenance of virtualization solutions. Forrester's James Staten said the move is a bid to catch up with its competitors, many of whom have had virtualization strategies in place for some time.

By Walaika Haskins
05/08/08 4:00 AM PT

Dell unveiled an array of virtualization solutions Wednesday. The hardware maker's new lineup includes more than a dozen servers, tools and services designed to make the deployment and management of virtual environments as simple as possible for enterprises regardless of size, the company said.

The array of offerings available in Dell's new virtualization lineup reflects the company's understanding that "virtualization is a rapidly evolving technology with many moving parts, making it increasingly difficult for customers to develop an effective strategy," said David Lord, a Dell spokesperson.

"There is an opportunity to move beyond hypervisors and consolidation to more advanced, end-to-end uses and benefits, like disaster recovery, high availability and dynamic provisioning," he continued.

Virtual Server Panoply

Four new virtualization-optimized servers stand at the center of the hardware manufacturer's latest offering. The new Dell PowerEdge R805 and R905 include preinstalled versions of either VMware ESXi 3.5 or Citrix XenServer Dell Express Edition hypervisors.

The R805 and R905 servers are currently available with starting prices of US$3,049 and $6,499, respectively.

In the near future, Dell will also roll out the PowerEdge 2950, R1950 and R2900 as well as the M600 and M605 blade servers that will also feature preinstalled version of the same VMware and Citrix hypervisors. With this range of servers, Dell hopes to target both businesses both large and small.

Lord gave a few examples of solutions Dell's new lineup brings together. For small and remote environments, there's the PowerEdge 2950 III with integrated VMware ESXi hypervisor. That system provides a cost-effective, easy-to-deploy platform for running multiple application on a single server.

"This is great way to get the most return out of your server investment," according to Lord. Medium to large environments could benefit from a combination of the Dell PowerEdge R805, Dell EqualLogic PS5000 and VMware VI3 + Site Recovery Manager. With this, businesses get an end-to-end virtualization solution that provides seamless server and storage scalability and an advanced disaster recovery functionality, he said.

Tools and Services, Too

To complement its PowerEdge servers, Dell has also worked to ease the way for businesses from purchase to deployment. Updated online tools, new e-commerce capabilities and expanded factory integration help smooth the road to virtualization.

Dell's revised Virtualization Advisor tool gives customers more options for building validated configurations online for virtualization before any money changes hands, according to the company.

After the servers have been configured, Dell has also has storage covered with its EqualLogic storage arrays, now featuring VMware Site Recovery Manager to handle data protection and disaster recovery, at no additional cost.

The centerpiece to the company's virtualization push, however, is its use of Egenera's data center automation software, said James Staten, a Forrester Research analyst.

"The release of [a] PAN (processing area network) system, leveraging Egenera's PAN Manager, is the most significant, as this software allows the creation of a pool of virtual resources and the management capabilities to manage them as a whole, optimize them, automate workload resource allocation and calculate chargeback -- a key to maximizing value of virtualization in an enterprise," he explained.

In addition, new service capabilities "should help shore up Dell PS as a player in this area of consulting."

Dell's "Right Size" services include virtualization simplification workshop that features virtualization operational assessments, process automation, health checks implementation services and remote advisory services.

However, rather than an innovative move, Dell's new virtualization push is simply the company trying to get where its competitors already are, Staten said.

"These are catch-up moves by Dell. HP, IBM, Sun and others have been providing these services for a while. Dell is late to the party. For the most part, these offerings help them reach parity. The tool that potentially can put them ahead is PAN, if they aggressively tout it. Remains to be seen if they will do the right thing with this," he told TechNewsWorld.

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