Dell targets big and small virtualization shops

Dell Corp. has unveiled a set of pre-configured server and consulting packages aimed at speeding up virtualization projects for both SMB and enterprise-level customers. The company also rolled out new updates to its EqualLogic storage and PowerEdge server product lines.

For enterprise users, Dell’s pre-configured and unified virtualization package includes Dell PowerEdge M-series blades, EqualLogic storage, Cisco Catalyst network switches, and integration with both VMware vSphere 4 and Novell’s Platespin Migrate technology. Small-to-medium shops can pick up a package that combines Dell PowerEdge servers, Symantec back-up technologies and Microsoft’s line of virtualization products.

On the consulting side, the company also launched Dell ProConsult, which offers services relating to data centre planning, virtualization optimization, data management and disaster recovery. The offering uses “electronic discovery, Web based surveys, best practices, comparative data and reference architectures” to speed along virtualization rollouts and make data centres more cost efficient.

Brad Anderson, senior vice-president of Dell’s Enterprise Product Group, said the new virtualization configurations and services would maximize ROI and simplify planning for customers of all sizes.

“We’re not putting a one-size fits all solution out there,” he said in a Webcast. “We’re focused on the needs of SMB, enterprise, public and HPC customers.”

While Dell has historically been focused on making it easier to acquire inexpensive piece parts, the services-laden announcement underscores the company’s recent change in direction.

“The big thing here that represents a continuing departure from Dell’s roots is that there’s a lot of integration — including integration with services,” said Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor for Nashua, Nh.-based research firm Illuminata Inc. “Increasingly, it’s focusing on also offering simplified, integrated solutions—albeit in a generally lighter weight style than HP and especially IBM.”

The fact that all of these system vendors are moving toward more integrated approaches indicates that a lot of customers are looking to buy more technology bundles rather than putting everything together themselves, he added. “That’s a very broad brush statement that masks a lot of different degrees and approaches, but it’s the general direction.”

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Dell debuts new enterprise offerings

One customer segment that the virtualization-focused server packages will especially resonate with are smaller customers looking to make hardware infrastructure upgrades amidst the recession, said Charles King, principal analyst with Haywood, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research Inc.

“Dell is recognizing that there are certain application areas where pre-configuration trumps custom systems, specifically in the server space,” King said. For example, the systems are good for SMBs who want virtualization, but don’t have the manpower or technical know-how to deploy the application over a range of servers.

The bundled systems could also appeal to larger enterprises that want to deploy server environments to run high-performance tasks, King said, adding that these businesses will be able to avoid configuring the operating system or software to run high-performance tasks such as image processing.

In addition to the virtualization packages, Dell announced the new entry-level EqualLogic PS4000 storage array and a PowerVault NX3000 storage device aimed at the SMB market.

For companies looking to head deeper into high-performance computing, the company also introduced the Intel Xeon 5500-based PowerEdge T410 and T710 tower servers and the R410 rack server.

All of the products referenced in Dell’s announcement are now available worldwide.

– With files from Agam Shah, IDG News Service\San Francisco Bureau

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