Dell Gets More Aggressive in Storage and Networking

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    Fresh off going private, Dell today made an aggressive move to capture a significantly larger share of two emerging technologies that are set to become the linchpin of next-generation enterprise IT infrastructure.

    In advance of the Dell World 2013 conference, Dell has announced a raft of storage, networking and IT management offerings led by a new addition to its family of EqualLogic network-attached storage (NAS) systems that takes solid-state pricing down to $8 per gigabyte, and a series of campus switches that includes a new series of 40Gb Ethernet switches that support 48 ports across either a 9u and 13u chassis.

    According to Travis Vigil, executive director for Dell Storage, the EqualLogic PS6210 series delivers 1.2 million IOPs at a price point that is less than high-performance magnetic disk drives, which Vigil says should set the stage for mainstream adoption of Flash memory technology as a shared resource in the enterprise. Intended as a complement to Dell’s earlier move to drop the cost of SSDs in Compellent storage area network (SAN) systems, the end goal is for Dell to grab market share at a time when the general availability of lower-cost Flash memory storage has many IT organizations reevaluating their storage options.

    In addition to the EqualLogic PS6210, Dell also unveiled a 64-bit version of the Dell EqualLogic Array Software for managing storage, an enhanced version of the Dell EqualLogic Headquarters monitoring software and version 3.0 of the Dell Fluid file system, which now includes data deduplication and compression software based on the Ocarina technology that Dell gained in 2009.

    In the networking arena, a new C-Series of switches provides 1.536 Tbps of throughput across a switch that can be configured to support 48 40Gb Ethernet ports, 192 10Gb Ethernet ports or 312 Power of Ethernet (PoE) ports. According to Arpit Joshipura, vice president of Dell Networking, that C-Series is part of a significant Dell expansion into campus networking that includes a new family of wireless access points and an N-Series of 10Gb Ethernet switches that complement a previous Dell effort to extend its networking reach inside the data center.

    In both cases, Dell is trying to redefine the economics of IT infrastructure as part of a bid to increase its influence across the enterprise, which is the primary goal for taking the company private. Once that is accomplished, Dell expects to be able to layer additional services on top of that foundation to create a more profitable business model without having to respond to Wall Street every time quarterly revenue doesn’t meet analyst expectations.

    The degree to which Dell will succeed remains to be seen. What is clear is that as responsibility for acquiring storage, networking and servers continues to converge in the age of the virtual data center, Dell has made some strategic acquisitions to push its portfolio well beyond servers. The need to leverage those investments to create the new Dell is making the company one of the most aggressive players in the enterprise—especially when it comes to pricing. That means that for the foreseeable future, Dell will likely be in contention on a lot more enterprise customer shortlists than ever before.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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