Dell Adds Servers, Storage To Revitalize Product Lines - InformationWeek

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Hardware & Infrastructure

Dell Adds Servers, Storage To Revitalize Product Lines

Dell hopes a tighter integration of its server and storage product lines can help refuel its growth engines.

Dell on Wednesday introduced its ninth generation of servers and new storage offerings, which will need to find quick market acceptance if they are to help reverse the financial slide the company has been experiencing.

Dell has seen it previously remarkable growth track record stall in the past few quarters. Revenue slipped in the past fiscal year, and earnings dropped significantly last year and in the company's recently announced fiscal first quarter results.

Dell believes a tight integration of its server and storage product line, with an emphasis on providing low cost of ownership and management, can help refuel its growth engines. A lot is being tied to its storage effort, which grew 38% in fiscal year 2006, which ended Feb. 3, but experienced a 16% sequential drop in revenue in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, which ended May 5, although the segment grew 12% year-to-year.

Dell's server and networking line grew only 11% in fiscal 2006, and dropped 7% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

Neil Hand, VP of worldwide enterprise marketing for Dell, says its new servers are targeting true customer concerns. "I make the claim that customers are not making their buying decisions based off of speeds and feeds, individual performance, or power consumption claims," Hand says. "What they are worrying about is the complexity of their servers, storage, and data center environments in general."

Dell on Wednesday introduced four new members to its PowerEdge server line that will use the new Intel Woodcrest processor platforms that are based on its latest generation Core architecture that Intel says will bring new levels of performance-per-watt capability. Hand says the advantages of the new Woodcrest processors are only part of the story.

Dell's new servers will increase performance by 150% or better over existing Dell severs, and reduce power consumption by 25%, he says. "That is not all driven by Intel's new designs, but by a lot of effort Dell has put behind these platforms to look at them holistically," he says. That has included new fans and power supply designs, as well as improved management capabilities.

Dell is introducing the PowerEdge 1950, 2900, and 2950 servers, which are all available immediately, and the 1955 blade server, which will be available in July. The 1950, 2900, and 2950 are priced starting at $1,749, $1,749, and $1,849 respectively. Pricing for the 1955 will be announced when the system is available. Hand says the 1955 will be compliant with Dell's existing blade server chassis, allowing for direct replacement or a mix-and-match of blades.

On the agenda for the second half of 2006 will be Dell's first servers that use Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices.

"We want to deliver the right choice so our customers will get the price-performance and performance-per-watt leadership that we can deliver to the market with a very high degree of commonality of design," Hand says.

Also announced on Wednesday were new disk, tape, and management products designed to simplify storing, managing, and protecting data, says Howard Shoobe, senior manger of Dell's PowerVault disk portfolio.

"A core strategy is to meet storage requirements that fit distinct customer profiles," Shoobe says. "These new products are focused on delivering simplicity and affordability across our enterprise portfolio."

Dell is expanding its network-attached storage portfolio with two new storage servers. Optimized for file sharing, both NAS products are designed to support Dell's new 2900 and 2950 servers.

For storage area network environments, Dell is offering products that integrate its IT Assistant management software with EMC's Navisphere software, improving the ability to manage across a Dell/EMC installation with a single console.

Dell is also expanding disk drive technology on its PowerVault MD1000 direct-attached storage systems to include support for Serial ATA II disk drives, in addition to the previously support for serial-attached SCSI drives.

"The ability to add SAS and SATA in a single enclosure really drives some simplicity and functionality that to date hasn't been possible," Shoobe says.

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