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3/25/2009
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Dell Rolls Out New Servers, Storage, Services In Drive For "Efficiency"

"Companies spend way too much on IT infrastructure. It consumes way too much time, resources and money." Those aren't our words, they're Dell's -- uttered at the roll out of a new series of Nehalem-based 11th Generation PowerEdge servers, EqualLogic PS6000 series storage arrays, and consulting services all intended to offer more performance and lower total cost of ownership.

"Companies spend way too much on IT infrastructure. It consumes way too much time, resources and money." Those aren't our words, they're Dell's -- uttered at the roll out of a new series of Nehalem-based 11th Generation PowerEdge servers, EqualLogic PS6000 series storage arrays, and consulting services all intended to offer more performance and lower total cost of ownership.A noble goal. But the glitz-free San Francisco launch event seemed aimed at large enterprises, not small and midsize companies, and Dell execs ducked a question about the elephant in the room when trying to sell servers to SMBs: How do even the best servers stack up against increasingly popular cloud-based infrastructure options?.

Later, however, Erik Dithmer, Dell's SMB Americas President, told me that Dell has not yet seen many companies choose to live completely in the cloud. "Non-critical applications are going to the cloud today," Dithmer said, especially among smaller companies. But for mission critical information, he contended, "for the most part they still want to own their data, for reasons of security" if nothing else. Clouds are not going to push out servers completely," or vice versa. "There's going to be a really balanced infrastructure out there."

For companies that do want their own server horsepower, the new NehalemNehalem architecture promises significant performance boosts.

According to Antone Gonsalves in InformationWeek: "Nehalem is the code name for a new microarchitecture underlying Intel's Xeon processors that significantly boosts performance from current-generation chips by placing a memory controller next to the main processor on the same piece of silicon."

Brad R. Anderson, Dell's senior vice president, Enterprise Product Management, said the new Dell servers are optimized for virtualization with larger memory footprints and more i/o options. With the use of virtualization, Dell said, the new servers can lead to an 18-1 reduction in the number of servers required, and cut the footprint of each server by 50% while offering 30% energy-efficiency improvements over earlier models.

11G Family Low Res 4 The 11th Generation PowerEdge Server Family

Dell isn't alone in releasing new Nehalem-based servers, of course. Intel is expected to release the architecture for servers on Monday, and server leaders HP and IBM are also expected to announce new lines of machines that take advantage of them.

But Schuckenbrock said "our products are more than just a box for new Intel chips," citing attention to design and build details and TCO.

More to the point, Dell also announced a new system management console that the company claims consolidates nine consoles -- for everything from basic hardware management to asset and security management -- into a single browser window. The Dell Management Console is adapted from Symantec's Altiris product. And all required software comes embedded in flash memory within the server-- the servers ship without separate CDs. Not traditionally a leader in this area, Dell hopes to challenge HP with its new approach.

Dell also used the press conference to introduce five new EqualLogic series storage arrayes -- some with Solid State Drives (SSDs) to boost performance. The arrays use virtualized storage architecture and the new SAN Headquarters management software (which is said to resemble fibre channel environments) to help reduce cost and complexity. PS6000 arrays start at $17,000, models using Solid State Drives start at $25,000.

Dell is wrapping the new hardware and software with new service offerings, including ProSupport, ProManage, and ProConsult.

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