Dell Overhauling Its PowerEdge PortfolioBy Scott Ferguson | Print
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The company is reworking its servers with updated management tools, new Intel and AMD chips, and a new number scheme.
Dell now wants to simplify its PowerEdge server portfolio.
At the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Nov. 12, Dell will show off several new PowerEdge servers, including new systems with new 45-nanometer processors from Intel, as well as updates to its OpenManage management software.
As part of its "Simplify IT" initiative, which looks to offer a comprehensive suite of hardware, software and services for customers, all under the Dell name, the OEM is also renaming the next generation of its PowerEdge servers as a way to streamline the portfolio.
"This is really what 'Simplify IT' is all about," said Daniel Bounds, a senior manager for Dell's PowerEdge server division. "We have talked to a lot of our customers and this is all based on their feedback, and what they want is much more energy-efficient servers and a much easier way to manage the servers that they have in the data center."
Since CEO Michael Dell returned to day-to-day operations in early 2007, the company has taken a sharp turn in trying to win back consumers while offering more services and options to its enterprise clients. Part of that push is the new Simplify IT measure, which has included a number of announcements in the past month, including a new unified communications package from Dell, Microsoft and Nortel Networks.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said Dell's approach is similar to what Hewlett-Packard and IBM have done to deliver end-to-end server, infrastructure and management tools to customers. The benefit to customers is a much more streamlined approach to buying, implementing and overseeing the data center.
"I believe that the company's Simplify IT message stands out in the sense that Dell recognizes that the potential benefits of simplification begin at the factory, with the way products are packaged and designed, and continue through assembly [and] deployment, systems management and infrastructure maintenance," King said.
"As embodied in the new servers and OpenManage [software], the Simplify IT effort aims to wrest every bit of value from each of those processes and use them to create benefits for its clients."
These types of changes are reflected in the new hardware and software Dell is preparing to discuss at Oracle's conference.
Starting with the 5.3 version of its OpenManager software, the company is looking to add new functionality and ease of use to its management suite. These improvements include reducing the number of management consoles, adding a power management monitor and offering features that allow the IT manager to update a server's firmware without having to take the system offline.
On the security side, Dell is adding a TMP (Trusted Platform Module) to add new encryption capabilities and the ability to lock down the USB ports. These features also allow users to take advantage of Microsoft's BitLocker encryption tool.
On the hardware side, Dell has gained back some of the market share it had been losing to other vendors during the past year. Now the company is trying to continue that momentum with new systems that span from the high- to low-end as well as simplify the labeling scheme for its PowerEdge line.
For example, Dell will replace its current high-end PowerEdge 2850 server with the PowerEdge R900, a 4U (7-inch), four-socket, rack-mount system that will support Intel's 7300 series processors and 7300 chip set. The system supports either five 3.5-inch SAS (serial attached ISCSI) drives or eight 2.5-inch SAS drives, and offers up to 1.5TB of data capacity.
In the new scheme, the "R" stands for rack, while the company will use a "T" for tower and an "M" for modular or blades. The first number indicates the number of socketsone to four for one socket, five to eight for two sockets and nine for four socketswhile the last two digits show either an Intel system"00"or a server based on Advanced Micro Devices chips"05"according to Dell.
Besides the R900, Dell will also roll out the PowerEdge R200, a 1U (1.75-inch), one-socket system build on Intel processors, including quad-core Xeon 3200 series chips, and the T105 tower server that uses either an AMD single-socket Sempron processor or the dual-core Opteron 1000 series chips.
While the R900, R200 and the T105 all represent Dell's next-generation PowerEdge server technology, the company also plans to refresh its older lineup with three rack-mounted systemsthe PowerEdge 1950, 2950 and the 2900that will all be outfitted with Intel's 45-nanometer Xeon quad-core 5400 and dual-core 5200 series processors that debuted Nov. 12.
All of the new servers and the management features will be available by the end of November, according to Dell.
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