Data Center Convergence the Dell Way

Michael Vizard

Most of the discussion surrounding data center convergence for the last year or more has been led by Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard. But with its move to acquire Scalent, Dell is getting ready to deliver what it describes as a much more open approach.

But with its recent move to acquire Scalent, a provider of IT mangement software, Dell is getting ready to deliver what it describes as a much more open approach to data center convergence.

According to Paul Prince, CTO for the Enterprise Products Group at Dell, the value that Scalent brings to the Dell equation is that it provides the company a heterogeneous approach to managing servers, storage and switches across the data center regardless of which company made them.

In contrast, Cisco is pushing an approach to data center convergence that requires customers to replace millions of dollars of investments in existing systems. HP, meanwhile, has a hybrid approach that advocates both a forklift system upgrade similar to what Cisco is offering, or a more modular approach that still requires mostly HP equipment.

Dell, on the other hand, plans to provide the benefits of data center convergence using an open Scalent architecture. Prince says Dell strongly feels that when the playing field is level, it can win against all comers in terms of server and storage technologies while partnering with any number of vendors on networking. But as part of the effort, Dell doesn't expect customers to replace everything they have today. Instead, Dell will use the Scalent platform to manage both Dell and other vendor equipment on an equal footing, he said.

Dell's more open approach to data center convergence, says Prince, stems from the recognition that virtualization has fundamentally changed enterprise computing forever. With the addition of Scalent, Prince says Dell is now in a place to offer a 'universal resource management' layer that leverages virtualization to manage IT infrastructure at a much higher level of abstraction.

Whether that management is going to be provided by Dell, one of its business partners, or the internal IT organization is up to the customer. The point, says Prince, is that IT infrastructure as a whole will become much more affordable as the ongoing cost of managing it continues to fall.

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