Dell makes its virtualization hardware play

Dell Canada (Nasdaq: DELL) expanded its enterprise portfolio for the channel for virtualized IT environments.

The former direct only vendor released a line of iSCSI storage arrays under its EqualLogic brand — entry-level models aimed at small to medium-sized businesses and enterprise branch offices, and for backing up virtualized server environments along with PowerEdge servers (T410 and T710 tower servers and R410 rack server) powered with Intel Xeon 5500 series processors.

Also part of the offering is modular virtualization and data centre consulting services and business-ready virtualization configurations.

All these products and services are to be made available through the company’s PartnerDirect network of 1,000 channel partners in Canada. Dell is also planning on expanding its partner certification program for consulting around these new products.

The business-ready virtualization or fixed configurations for the PowerEdge line will include servers, storage modules and software that have been pre-tested.The offerings are a diversification from Dell’s traditional built-to-order business model, in which customers typically specify configurations before ordering.Dell is offering fixed systems as an option to custom-built systems that could take longer to configure and deploy, said Praveen Asthana, Dell’s director of enterprise storage. “The goal is speed,” Asthana said. “Now we’re saying you can be up and running in 30 minutes, not in a week.”

Dell is perhaps one of the first server vendors to offer server packages out of the box, said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. During the recession, the bundles are an inexpensive way for customers to upgrade hardware infrastructure and to quickly deploy applications, he said.

“Dell is recognizing that there are certain application areas where pre-configuration trumps custom systems, specifically in the server space,” King said. For example, the systems are good for SMBs who want virtualization, but don’t have the manpower or technical know-how to deploy the application over a range of servers. Virtualization is generally employed mostly larger server environments like data centers, but is now reaching smaller server environments, King said.

Dell said the EqualLogic PS4000 Series of virtualized iSCSI storage area network (SAN) arrays bring enterprise-class features contained in higher-end PS-series arrays to SMBs and remote offices. Such features include thin provisioning, tighter integration with server virtualization software and advanced management capabilities to link remote data replication back with central data centres.

Dell also announced the NX3000 array, which is a PowerVault 3000 server for sharing files across Windows and Linux clients. The array comes with deduplication software and can be used as a gateway device to convert an EqualLogic storage array into a network-attached storage array.

PowerEdge T410 and R410 servers are available starting at $1,423 and $2,291 respectively. The PowerEdge T710 server is expected to be available in July starting at $1,999. The new EqualLogic PS 4000 is available at $15,399.

Agam Shah and Lucas Mearian of IDG’s News Service contributed to this story.

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