In addition, once the customer configures the hardware, the data is stored in memory and can be uploaded to Dell as backup and easier deployment on new systems. In addition, Dell could use the information to deliver to a customer future systems with the custom settings.
Because most of the core hardware components in x86 servers from the different vendors are very similar, along with the pricing, the best way to differentiate products is through management tools. Dell's latest moves indicate an understanding of that reality, Spooner said. However, Dell is playing catch-up in this area, so it'll take time to see whether the vendor makes any progress against rivals.
"Time will tell," Spooner said.
Indeed, Dell is ranked third in the worldwide server market in terms of revenue after IBM and HP, according to IDC. In fiscal 2009, servers and networking products made up 10% of Dell's revenue, with services accounting for 9% and storage 4%. Dell's PC business brought in about 60% of the company's revenue.
Dell plans to release details and benchmarks of its products on Monday to coincide with Intel's official launch of Nehalem for servers.
InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on data center unification. Download the report here (registration required).