Dell Dives Deep Into Data Center Market

Dell on Wednesday announced a slew of products and services to underscore its thrust into the data center market. These include servers and workstations, lifecycle and system management software, storage, virtualization, and data center consulting services.

It is offering 11th-generation PowerEdge servers and its Precision workstations, both based on the Intel Nehalem chip. The servers have built-in virtualization and offer a single access point to control management through the Dell Lifecycle Controller.

Dell has also unveiled M-series blades and the Dell ImageDirect Server, which lets enterprises create virtual server images that will be factory-installed. This will ensure there is no deviance from the standard images businesses want and will cut the time needed to create and install these images.

For systems management, Dell is offering Dell Management Console, based on Symantec’s Altiris product. This lets users handle both virtual and physical IT environments from one console and automates system management processes.

Still More Products and Services

For storage, Dell has announced new EqualLogic PS6000 storage arrays. Using solid state drives, they integrate into existing EqualLogic storage area networks (SANs) to form a virtualized storage pool. Dell also unveiled SAN Headquarters, a centralized dashboard that monitors performance and events for dozens of PS Series groups and can potentially manage more than 10 petabytes of SAN storage.

The PS arrays are integrated with VMware ESX and Citrix XenCenter as well as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL. Dell has now added Microsoft’s Hyper-V to the mix. Through Hyper-V, the PowerEdge will have snapshot integration to rapidly restore virtual machines to cope with failure and disaster recovery.

For customers who don’t know which virtualization solution will be optimal for them, Dell offers its Data Center Consulting services. Customers will get tools, technology and help from consultants, all for a fee.

The Lowdown On Nehalem

The Nehalem processor, also known as “Core i7,” is Intel’s latest product. Intel claims the Nehalem is more energy-efficient than earlier chips. Nehalem uses hyper-threading, a technology Intel introduced with the Pentium 4. Hyper-threading lets a single processor core perform computing tasks in parallel, thus appearing to the operating system as two cores and giving more bang for the buck.

However, Nehalem won’t live up to the demands of high-performance computing (HPC) for companies that need it, Jud Leonard, cofounder and chief architect of HPC vendor SiCortex, told TechNewsWorld. Such companies are in the scientific and technical application business.

“Nehalem is a fine machine for small servers and desktop applications, but it doesn’t address most of the problems HPC customers face with x86 boxes,” he said. “Intel haven’t done anything to reduce their total power dissipation or make it more efficient to connect hundreds or thousands of chips together.”

Appreciation of Dell’s Moves

Wednesday’s announcement underscores the reinvention of Dell as an enterprise player. “Since Mike Dell came back to the company more than two years ago, he’s been on a mission to demonstrate that Dell’s ready to play in the big leagues,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research, told TechNewsWorld.

Unlike its main competitors in the enterprise space — HP, Sun and IBM — Dell is focusing on partnerships rather than building systems in-house. “It would take a huge financial investment and lots of time for Dell to build a software development organization comparable to HP’s or IBM’s or Sun’s,” King said. “Instead, Dell is working with partners.”

That will probably work, Dan Kusnetzky, principal analyst at the Kusnetzky Group, told TechNewsWorld. “Dell’s portfolio of products it has created and sells itself is sparse compared to HP’s or IBM’s, for example, but if you look at the broader ecosystem of its partners, they can match many of HP’s or IBM’s systems.”

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