Dell Zeros In on Data Center Storage

By Steve Wexler  |  Print this article Print

As part of its assault on the increasingly competitive data center market, Dell has made a number of storage-related announcements, including new 10GbE arrays, its first FCoE offering, and new consulting services.

The battle for the data center has been heating up recently with the likes of Cisco's California, HP's Converged Infrastructure, IBM's Smarter Planet and the disappearance of Sun, so Dell's decision to throw its hat in the ring with its own IT-as-a-commodity approach should come as no surprise. However, somewhat buried in the company's grand Advanced Infrastructure Management strategy were a number of announcements that should have a significant impact on the storage market, including Dell's fledgling channel.

The biggest news is the addition of 10 Gigabit Ethernet to its iSCSI storage lineup, which offers huge payoffs to customers, says Travis Vigil, a senior manager responsible for Dell’s EqualLogic product family.

Besides giving Dell a ready-made channel, the EqualLogic acquisition has paid big dividends in the last two years. The company has added nearly 12,000 new customers and more than 240 partners since January 2008. EqualLogic product line revenue has increased by 31 percent year-over-year since FYQ3, and Dell leads the iSCSI market with more than 33 percent revenue share.

The new EqualLogic PS6010 and PS6510 storage arrays deliver up to ten times more bandwidth per port and up to two-and-a-half times more bandwidth per array than previous versions. There's also a 100GB solid state disk (SSD) option available in the PS6510S.

Dell also announced new firmware updates that enable customers to scale performance and capacity with 16 members per group, up from the previous 12 member. Vigil says they can now scale up to 768TB per group with 1TB SATA drives, and there's also a 50 percent cable reduction. In addition, the 10K SAS capacity has been increased from 86.4TB/group to 460.8TB/group.

Other software enhancements include SAN HeadQuarters2.0 which features experimental analysis capabilities and a comprehensive set of predefined business reports.

On the networking side Dell announced the PowerConnect a 1U, 24-port 10GbE networking switch with SFP+ and four combo 10GbE Base-T ports with full wire speed 10GbE capabilities across all ports. Another interesting announcement is Dell's first firs FCoE product for those that want to start migration from fibre channel to Ethernet, says Vigil. The Qlogic solutions for Dell PowerEdge blades allow users to unify existing FibreChannel SANs onto a 10GbE fabric with FCoE functionality

Last but not least, Dell announced new services. Proconsult Storage Consolidation Consulting will provide expertise for the integration of Dell/EMC storage products and help them achieve the appropriate level of performance and data protection.

Charles King, Principal Analyst, Pund-IT, says the most significant aspect of the announcement is Dell's continuing efforts to deliver highly integrated, end-to-end IT infrastructure solutions, including management and services components.

"The evolution of 10 Gb/E, which some would say has taken a bit longer to crawl out of the swamp than expected, should pay dividends on Dell’s EqualLogic investment," says King. "To fully achieve its potential, iSCSI storage requires highly robust, flexible and scalable network technologies – which fits 10 Gb/E to a 't'. Combined with other 10Gb/E enabled Dell and partners’ products, the company’s new EqualLogic PS6500 solutions should provide Dell customers the performance required for both business-class applications like Oracle and Microsoft SQL, and bandwidth-intensive processes.

While Vigil says the right things about the channel opportunity, including the much bigger installed base and the opportunity to go after new customers, competitor Scale Computing's Peter Fuller, VP of Marketing,  needs convincing.

"Like I mentioned, we view this as no surprise as Dell is continuing to use the EqualLogic line to further compete up market with the EMC's. One may question, with Dell's track record with the channel, if they also plan to offer this solution directly, or if this is a move that will benefit Dell's direct sales force in competing with EMC more than Dell's channel partners."



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