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5/10/2011
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Dell Intros Enterprise Servers, Switches

Products, including networking and storage offerings, are targeted at companies looking to scale bandwidth and utilize more virtualized services.

Dell PowerEdge M915 Blade Server
(click image for larger view)
Dell PowerEdge M915 Blade Server
While Dell is primarily known for its PCs, the company is continuing its aggressive push into all aspects of the enterprise technology market with its new server, networking, and storage offerings announced Monday at Interop 2011 in Las Vegas, a UBM TechWeb event.

According to Dell, the new products are primarily targeted at enterprises looking to scale bandwidth and utilize more virtualized services.

One of the key new products is the PowerEdge M915, a four-socket, full-height blade server powered by 12-core Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Operton 6100 processors that yield up to 384 processor cores per chassis. The new server is ideal for virtualized servers since it allows pools of processor cores to be deployed, which allows more virtual machines to be hosted on the device, Dell said.

"There are a number of things that differentiate the blade from our competitors' products, including the implementation of how we do our baseline networking adapters, something we call our network daughter card," said Robert Bradfield, senior product manager for blade marketing at Dell, in an interview.

A key differentiator is that Dell incorporated network interface cards (NIC)-partitioning technology in the blade systems that are switch-independent. This enables NIC portioning using any vendor's switch infrastructure, Bradfield said. Each 10-Gb Ethernet port can be divided into four NICs that can be used in physical and virtual environments. Plus, the integrated "daughter-card" enables a choice between the GbE NICs or 10-Gb converged network adapters (CNAs), which allows for greater flexibility, Bradfield said.

The PowerEdge M915 comes in two- or four-socket models and has up to 512 Gb of RAM in its 32 DIMM slots and two terabytes of storage.

For its networking products, Dell's PowerConnect M8024 Ethernet blade has greater 10-GbE and virtualization capabilities, but also supports 1-Gb connections, both to the server and to the LAN, which ensures upgrade capabilities to 10 Gb. It has up to 24 ports of 10-GbE compatible with 1-GbE networks.

Dell has also released three new PowerConnect B-Series switches. The B-T124x Ethernet switch features 24 dual-speed ports. The B-FCX(s) series is an Ethernet product that has two dedicated full-duplex 16-Gbps stacking ports that provide 64 Gbps of stacking bandwidth. Dell said this helps eliminate the need to work around inter-switch bottlenecks. The B-FCoE 1024 blade has 24 ports of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), 192 ports that operate simultaneously at 8 Gbps, 1.5 Tbps of chassis bandwidth, and 256 Gbps of ICL bandwidth (freeing up to 32 8-Gbps ports per chassis).

These new products from Dell signify its changing direction to grow beyond a PC manufacturer to a provider of enterprise-wide products including networking, storage, and server offerings. Andy Lark, VP of marketing for Dell's large enterprise division confirms that enterprise products comprise a "very large" portion of Dell's current business and strategies for the future.

"Dell is significantly more than a PC company; in fact our enterprise products make a very large proportion of our offerings," he said in an interview. "In the future our enterprise solutions will make up an ever-increasing part of Dell's business."

Dell is also hoping to position itself as a forward-looking business-technology partner with expertise in virtualization, cloud computing, and "solution stacks" that help enterprises grow more efficiently.

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