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Dell is updating its Advanced Infrastructure Management data center initiative announced last December with new server, storage and software solutions, and services.

This is a hotly contested market where IBM has a strong base, Cisco and HP are rolling out competitive initiatives and Oracle is seeking to breathe new life into its Sun Microsystems acquisition. According to AHV Associates LLP, data centers accounted for more than $15 billion last year, so there’s no shortage of opportunity.

Dell is looking to ‘shatter the virtualization glass ceiling’ with a data-center lineup that offers intelligent data management, simplified infrastructure management and intelligent infrastructure, says Dell’s Travis Vigil, Senior Product Manager, Storage (EqualLogic). “Last quarter we started talking about the virtual era.” The data-center market is in transition to the virtual era, and “we want to be a winner in that transition.”

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Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst, Enderle Group, believes there is more than enough room in the data center market for Dell.

“The market likes choice and specialization," he tells Channel Insider. "No one vendor, since IBM owned this market, has been able to be expert enough at all business sizes and types providing room for each vendor to specialize and carve out a market.”

What should be good news for the channel is the customer segment that Dell appeals to, adds Enderle.

“Dell tends to favor firms who want to do much of the work themselves, aren’t particularly interested in global services, and want a hardware vendor who is at arm’s length from software to avoid lock-in," he says. "There appear to be enough of those folks to sustain Dell.”  

Charles King, Principal Analyst, Pund-IT, Inc., agrees that there can never be enough systems vendors.

“If nothing else, a competitive vendor ecosystem tends to keeps business technology interesting and serves as an antidote to IT-related BS. In addition, no single vendor has all the answers for every organization. Diverse offerings from multiple vendors help to ensure that businesses can reliably get the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions to their computing problems.”

Being the alternative to business as usual in the data center – typically proprietary and complex solutions – is a Dell differentiator, states Vigil. “If you look at the history of computing… the open architecture is always the one that wins.”

Dell already has a significant data-center footprint, says King.

“The company has long specialized in x86-based solutions that constitute the largest portion of the server market," he says. "It was the first vendor to launch a dedicated cloud computing product/sales division; and Dell has reported on numerous occasions that it is the largest reseller of VMware solutions, which have found their greatest success among enterprise clients. Additionally, unlike many data-center players, Dell has no legacy hardware platforms threatened by x86 so its server/data-center strategy is more straightforward and less likely to be compromised.”

Among the products being announced — and scheduled to ship this quarter — are: PowerEdge M610x PCIe expansion module; PowerEdge M710HD blade; PowerEdge R715; Dell EqualLogic Array Software which automatically virtualizes and optimizes resources within the SAN; Dell EqualLogic Host Software which can deliver advanced data protection, high availability and performance and simplified management of application data and virtual machines for Microsoft and VMware environments; Dell EqualLogic PS6000XVS and PS6010XVS PS6000-6010 virtualized iSCSI SANs, that combine low-latency Solid State Disk (SSD) and high performance SAS drives within one array to deliver intuitive data responsiveness for tiered workloads; and the Dell PowerVault MD3200 Series of 6Gb shared storage solutions and MD3200i solution for entry-level storage consolidation in virtualized environments that require high availability.