Dell Drums Up Virtualization-in-a-Box

Less than three months after announcing a slew of products and services to propel its thrust into the data center market, Dell on Wednesday released several out-of-the-box virtualization solutions targeting both enterprises and SMBs.

These are aimed at simplifying virtualization and helping customers cut their costs.

In addition to hardware and hypervisors, Dell is offering virtualization, lifecycle and system management capabilities.

Dell also announced a set of flexible, modular virtualization consulting services.

For the Big Boys

Dell is offering the Data Center Virtualization Configuration for the enterprise.

This combines Dell PowerEdge M-series blades and EqualLogic P6000 iSCSI storage technology.

Other components of the bundle are Cisco Catalyst networking switches, VMware Sphere 4 and Novell’s Platespin Migrate to let customers create an intelligent, automated data center.

VMware vSphere 4 lets customers transform their data centers into internal private clouds that can be federated on demand to external clouds so an enterprise can deliver IT infrastructure as a service.

This is in keeping with VMware’s vision of bridging internal and external clouds, which it first announced at VMworld 2008 in September.

PlateSpin Migrate moves server workloads over the network between physical servers, virtual hosts and image archives. This is critical to balance out workloads in a virtualized environment in order to cut costs.

Novell acquired PlateSpin in March 2008.

This One’s for SMBs

Although small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) know that virtualization will help them cut costs, they tend to shy away from the technology because they lack the skills to implement it.

“Many SMBs don’t have the technological background or skills on-site to make virtualization happen in a cost-effective way,” Charles King, principal at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld.

For the SMB, Dell offers a configuration consisting of the PowerEdge R710 server, Dell PowerVault MD3000 and PowerVault DL 2000 storage arrays.

The PowerVault DL2000 is an appliance that makes it easy to back up data to disk drives. It runs Symantec’s Backup Exec solution.

The SMB configuration also comes with Dell’s PowerConnect networking technology and Microsoft’s virtualization suite — Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, System Center Essentials, and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008.

“We want to help people dramatically reduce the time it takes to plan and deploy their systems, and operate and manage them more easily, especially for SMB customers,” Dell spokesperson Matt McGinnis told TechNewsWorld.

Tech Specs of the SMB Configuration

The PowerEdge R710 is based on the Intel Xeon processor and is a 2U rack server that comes with Dell Lifecycle Controller for advanced systems management.

The PowerVault MD3000 is a highly available modular disk storage array that supports up to four PowerEdge servers and 45 disk drives; it has a capacity of 45 TB (terabytes). It supports both SAS and SATA drives.

Other Dell Announcements

In addition to the preconfigured solutions announced Wednesday, Dell unveiled several other virtualization solutions: Citrix Essentials for XenServer 5.0 and support for Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and for VMware vSphere 4.

“This is part of our agenda to simplify IT,” Dell’s McGinnis said.

That agenda includes enabling faster adoption of virtualization; driving energy and cost efficiencies; improving manageability and usability of products; and providing an efficient alternative to inflexible services.

On Wednesday, Dell also announced the EqualLogic PS4000 storage area network (SAN) and the PowerVault NX3000 network attached storage (NAS) device for SMBs and remote offices.

PS4000 SANs offer virtual storage for virtual servers in remote offices. They have integration and data protection for virtual servers from the three major players — VMware, Microsoft and Citrix, McGinnis said.

The PowerVault NX3000 shares files across both Windows and non-Windows clients and reduces duplicate files with Single-Instant Storage (SIS) technology, McGinnis said.

Dell Services

Together with the products, Dell announced several consulting options for customers.

These include platform optimization and virtualization services; data center planning and management services; disaster recovery services; and services to help customers run their data centers more efficiently and at lower cost.

“Rather than provide the broad and deep services IBM is known for and HP is attempting to emulate via its acquisition of EDS, Dell is going to customers, finding out their pain points, and designing very highly targeted services to alleviate their discomfort,” Pund-IT’s King said.

“Their services are designed to help empower their customers,” said King.

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