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Dell Refreshes SMB Servers, Storage

Manufacturer adds Intel's Sandy Bridge processors to its entry-level and midmarket servers, while rolling out two storage devices aimed at firms dealing with massive data growth.

Dell PowerEdge T110 II Server
(click image for larger view)
Dell PowerEdge T110 II Server
Dell on Thursday launched updated servers and also added two new storage devices designed for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

The entry-level PowerEdge T110 II and midmarket PowerEdge R210 II servers both ship with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, among other enhancements. The T110 tower primarily targets smaller firms considering their first on-premises server, while the rack-based R210 model might be more likely to attract midsize companies or SMBs of all stripes looking to expand their current server architecture.

"There are still a lot of customers out there who haven't made that first step towards a server," said Tony Parkinson, Dell's director of SMB, in an interview. "They're still running--or trying to run--their infrastructure on the desktop. We really want to help them move away from that architecture because it's not scalable, it's got lots of risk in terms of potential downtime, and security is a real concern in those types of environments."

Storage has become a major push for Dell of late, highlighted by a series of recent acquisitions in the space. The PowerVault NX3500 is a network attached storage (NAS) unit intended to merge file and block-storage needs on a single device. The PowerVault MD3600i is an Ethernet-based (10 Gigabit Ethernet) iSCSI storage area network, which Dell is emphasizing for SMBs that have--or plan to deploy--virtualized environments. Both new PowerVault models integrate Dell's Scalable File System.

"Customers are really struggling with this explosion in data, because it's really coming at them from so many different angles," Parkinson said, pointing to the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices--and the content they produce--as one cause.

Along with Thursday's server and storage roll-outs, Dell also recently released new switches: The PowerConnect 7000 series for midsize firms, and the PowerConnect 5500 line for smaller businesses. It's been a busy 2011 so far for Dell in the SMB segment, having already added new desktops and laptops to its Vostro line for smaller businesses.

The latest updates come at a time when SMBs appear to be ready for technology upgrades after an extended period of recession-related belt-tightening.

"It's like an old car: You can't just keep repairing it or keeping it alive. It's costing you more to patch it up," Parkinson said. He added that Dell first began to see SMBs pick up their spending again in areas such as its Vostro segment, which has, in turn, fed server and storage demand. "We're seeing the client side drive the server architecture side."

Parkinson also said that SMBs are asking sharper IT questions of late on subjects such as data tiering, virtualization, and disaster recovery. "We're starting to see sophisticated questions coming in around topics like deduplication which, quite frankly, used to be like a foreign language or some mystery to a lot of customers," Parkinson said, noting that Dell's SMB portfolio will soon incorporate the deduplication technology it picked up as part of last year's acquisition of Ocarina Networks.

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