Dell Launches New EqualLogic Storage Solutions for SMBs

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print

The entry-level storage arrays, servers and professional services are aimed at helping channel partners simplify sales, deployment and management, and gain market share over rivals HP and IBM.

Dell today launched a new series of storage solutions under its EqualLogic brand to help partners better serve the SMB market and increase market share against rivals Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

"The iSCSI market is a bright spot in IT spending," says Travis Vigil, senior manager for Dell’s EqualLogic product line. "We’ve definitely seen that reflected in EqualLogic’s year-over-year growth, which in the first quarter of 2009 was up 71 percent compared to the first quarter 2008."

IDC Research estimates Dell/EqualLogic currently claims a 36 percent revenue share of the external storage market, which is growing at about 40.5 percent per year. Vigil says these numbers prove that Dell’s growing much faster than the overall storage market and is within two market share points of competitors HP and IBM.

Driving this growth is the increased pressure on customers to limit acquisition costs and operating costs, says Vigil. The EqualLogic PS4000 series of storage arrays include the PS4000E with iSCSI connectivity, the PS4000X with 10K SAS connectivity and the PS4000XV with 15K SAS connectivity.

The new storage arrays, which start at $10,000, offer a less expensive infrastructure option for SMBs that combines many enterprise-class features with ease-of-use and easy scalability, Vigil says.

The PS4000 arrays offer high-end features such as storage virtualization, thin provisioning, server virtualization integration and advanced management capabilities, Vigil says. In addition, solution providers and their customers are offered investment protection, since the PS4000 series integrates with legacy EqualLogic storage environments as well as the PS6000 storage array targeted to enterprise customers.

Vigil says that the PS4000 arrays offer seamless integration with all major hypervisors from virtualization vendors VMware, Citrix and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. The PS4000 also includes the capability to manage virtualized storage deployments from customers’ native hypervisor console, whatever vendor they choose.

Jeff Boardman, solutions architect at Dell partner Corporate IT Solutions, says his company has been using a PS4000 demonstration unit for a few months, and is thrilled with the capabilities and the customer opportunities the product will provide.

"As an engineer, it can be frustrating when vendors introduce an entry-level product because most of the time they cut out all kinds of important features," Boardman says. "But with the PS4000, the only limitations are the amount of bandwidth that can travel over iSCSI and the number of units that can be stacked together."

In essence, Boardman adds, EqualLogic is allowing solution providers to target smaller customers with a solution that doesn’t eliminate any important features.

Boardman says he doesn’t find the P4000’s limitations a drawback, since most SMB customers that Corporate IT Solutions would approach wouldn’t need high bandwidth or a large number of SAN appliances.

"This absolutely makes sense for SMBs, or even for enterprises that have branches or remote offices," he says. "This product is a great starter track, so SMBs can have an affordable solution to get virtualization or other SAN projects off the ground more easily." The PS4000 will also allow Corporate IT Solutions access to smaller customers they wouldn’t have been able to approach with other solutions, he says.

"And as our SMB customers grow, if they need additional capacity and functionality, they can simply add a PS6000 into their infrastructure," he says.

In tandem with the launch of the PS4000 series, Dell EqualLogic has released enhancements to the PS series storage array management software. During a Webcast held June 17 to discuss the launch, Brad Anderson, senior vice president of Dell’s Enterprise Product Group, said the new software will be available to any new or existing Dell/EqualLogic customers, as long as they have a valid support contract.

The new PS series storage management software includes increased integration with VMware virtualization deployments and will also add integration with VMware’s vSphere 4.0 platform announced in May 2009.

"Aside from EMC, which owns part of VMware, we are the first vendor to include these kinds of features and integration with VMware ESX and vSphere 4.0," Anderson says.

Dell also announced new ProConsult storage services, which will provide Dell’s nearly 49,000 channel partners with greater opportunities to resell optimization, planning and management services for storage environments, says Greg Davis, Dell’s global channel chief.

The ProConsult Data Management service quickly diagnoses problems and recommends storage solutions that help customers’ infrastructure be more efficient, says Bob Skelley, global head of Dell’s Enterprise Architecture certification group. The Data Management service can identify and eliminate unused capacity, more quickly provision available storage, and strengthen compliance with internal policies and external regulations, Skelley explains.

The ProConsult Disaster Recovery solution helps customers plan and implement an effective and affordable DR program that makes the best use of existing and new technologies, while also helping to allocate personnel resources and streamline business processes, he says.

Three new next-generation enterprise servers—the T410, R410 and T710—round out the new product launches from Dell, according to Greg Davis, Dell’s global channel chief. Taken together, the new solutions and services will simplify sales, deployment and management of virtualized data centers and storage environments, making both Dell and its channel partners more profitable.

"With these launches, we’re aiming to bring new solutions that address the needs we hear most from our partners: Make [solutions] easy to sell, simple to get up and running, and help me do more, faster, with limited resources," Davis says.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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