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Dell Unveils Blade-Server Assessment Service

This month, Dell will start offering data-center assessment services that it says will help customers design IT departments best suited for blade-server installations.
Dell this month will begin offering a new assessment service in the fast-growing blade-server market to help customers optimize their IT floors around power requirements for blade-server installations.

With the new blade-server service, Dell will go to a customer site, evaluate the data center, and make recommendations for optimized blade implementations, says Paul Gottsegen, VP of worldwide enterprise marketing. The offering is one piece of a larger companywide strategy focused on services that Dell has embarked on.

Late last year, Dell re-entered the blade-server market with a Xeon-based product line, more than a year after competitive products from IBM and Hewlett-Packard had begun to attract increasing attention from enterprise customers. Although IBM and HP have been able to establish their blade-server product lines over the past year, "we don't feel that we've missed out on much to date. We feel that others have cut corners [with blade products], and we were not going to have a half-baked blade," Gottsegen says. While blades remain less than 5% of the total server market, "every customer now is seriously interested in kicking the tires," he says.

Kevin Rollins, president and CEO of Dell, says the company will act as an industry catalyst to move blades beyond a niche and into the industry mainstream. "The promise that blades would bring better density and better value is now starting to be realized," he says. "Up until we launched our product, blades were actually very expensive and they didn't provide a customer payback. Large corporate customers were telling us they were not that impressed with what was in the market."

In November, Dell introduced the PowerEdge 1855 blade server. The blades are offered in a 7U chassis that will support up to 10 servers, providing 43% greater performance per square foot than a traditional 1U rack-mounted server, the company says, while also providing up to a 25% cost advantage over traditional servers.

Dell entered the blade-server market in 2002 with a product based on a Pentium 4 processor. That product eventually lost market position to IBM and HP, which rolled out more-powerful blades based on Xeon and the Opteron processor by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.