Dell Promises 'Cheaper, Faster, Easier'

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Monday, Dell introduced a full portfolio of 12th Generation blade, rack and tower PowerEdge servers, along with a suite of enterprise solutions the company claims are both faster and easier to manage.

Executives at the launch event Monday in San Francisco emphasized that Dell wants to transform itself from a hardware vendor to a provider of end-to-end solutions and services that could deliver more while saving customers money.

CEO Michael Dell told the audience that, as the line between IT and business disappears, "We are not about boxes but about solutions to customer challenges, transforming data into insights, boosting productivity and enabling a flexible and agile IT environment for our customers. ... It's not a PC company, it's an end-to-end IT company," he said.

Praveen Asthana, vice president of enterprise solutions and strategy, said that Dell is optimizing its products for applications, for management and ease of use, so that IT managers aren't bogged down with management tasks. "It's one thing to have high performance, but you want to make sure it doesn't take too long to deploy it," he said.

The 12th Generation server line includes its second generation of embedded server management tools to handle deployment, updating, monitoring and maintenance of server lifecycles. The company said that the new PowerEdge line requires up to 85.5 percent less engineer time and up to 86 percent fewer manual steps during deployment and provisioning.

With Dell Express Flash, hot-swappable PCIe solid state disks connected directly to the server, Dell said it can provide up to 10.5 times more Microsoft SQL Server transactions per second than HDD storage2, while the Dell CacheCade data accelerator can provide up to 28 times quicker queries on Oracle Databases3.

The 12th Generation PowerEdge server line will be available in March, executives said.

Dell also announced the next-generation EqualLogic PS Series storage arrays, which combine fast networking bandwidth with increased storage capacity in a smaller footprint than previous generations.

Dell's Fluid Data Architecture concept, introduced in June 2011, aims to combine networking and storage in a single manageable construct. It will eventually lead to the entire product portfolio sharing some key capabilities, according to Carter George, executive director, Dell Storage Strategy.

"Regardless of which hardware solution you choose, you will have a consistent and compatible approach across the whole portfolio," George said at the launch event.

Today, Fluid Data Architecture includes technologies from Compellent, which Dell acquired last year. Over time, this product harmonization will include maximum efficiency, native cloud integration, scale-out designs, a consistent ownership experience and innovative licensing.

According to George, Dell wants to make licensing simpler and more rational. He noted that Dell acquisition EqualLogic offered "all you can eat" licensing, so that customers automatically received software updates and new software without additional cost. Compellent, meanwhile, had the unusual idea that, "If you bought software from them, you could actually have it," that is, customers were free to move the software to new boxes.

"We would like to consolidate these two licensing strategies into a single common Dell storage software license that would have best characteristics of both," George said. "That's very difficult in terms of accounting and finance, and it's not something we can flip a switch and do. But, but over the course of the year, you will see us roll out a more consistent and compatible license that will fundamentally change the way people buy storage."

Also in the spate of announcements:

  • Next-generation EqualLogic PS Series storage arrays, combining fast networking bandwidth with increased storage capacity in a smaller footprint than previous generations, is available now
  • Dell's Virtual Network Architecture (VNA), an open framework for virtualizing, automating and orchestrating network services in data center, campus and branch environments, supports an end-to-end 10GbE framework
  • vStart for Dell Private Cloud, designed to help businesses rapidly deploy their own private cloud through a converged, pre-built infrastructure including the 12th Generation PowerEdge server, storage, networking and management components
  • Two desktop virtualization offerings: Desktop Virtualization Solution Simplified and Desktop Virtualization Solution Enterprise
  • The Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance aimed at mid-market and departmental users, based on Dell PowerEdge servers and Microsoft SQL Server 2012, plus Dell Boomi for data integration, is in beta with availability projected for Q2

Dell hopes to exploit a possible acceleration in the server refresh cycle by offering the power and speed businesses need at an incrementally smaller cost. For example, Dell said that the EqualLogic storage arrays provide up to 69 percent higher performance than the previous generation and 10 times the application performance, but cost only around 11 percent more than the previous generation.

While the Dell mantra will remain "better together," company executives said that they want their solutions to be open and allow customers to mix products from multiple vendors and channel partners.

Said Forrest Norrod, vice President and general manager, server platforms, "Customers are telling us, 'Give me innovation but don't lock me in with a proprietary solution that provides no real value.'" With the reference architectures that Dell provides, he said, "Customers can deconstruct how we did things and make different choices."

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This article was originally published on February 28, 2012
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