The New Plan

In a move sure to attract the attention of data centre giants, Cisco and HP, Dell has announced the introduction of the latest rebadged member of their data and networking family.

Long viewed as a practical no frills personal computer retailer, Dell is now seen as attempting to carve an image that synergizes computing, networking and data storage with low pricing. Dell hopes to distinguish itself from major rivals by creating an integrated set of data-centre products without constraining clients into one single brand. Virtualized data centers designed with Dell products would be able to integrate vendor products and applications with ease.

The Products

The release of the Juniper network products range is in line with the previous introduction of the EqualLogic, Brocade and PowerEdge lines.

Dell’s introduction of Juniper core switching, aggregation switching and security products is meant to give customers a more comprehensive option. When their collaboration was first announced in October 2009, the expressed objective was to let Dell clients use the JunOS, a common operating system, across their whole data centre. In a follow up move, Dell is introducing a line of single and stackable core switches, as part of the integration process. The products will include the PowerConnect J-EX8208 and J-EX8216 core switches, the PowerConnect J-EX4200 stackable switch and the PowerConnect J-SRX100, all part of the branch-office Unified Threat Management appliances. These products are due in early July and pricing has not been determined yet.

The EqualLogic line also introduced significant enhancements. The new iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) firmware update allows automatic switching between solid-state drives and spinning hard drives in a network storage area. Using an algorithm, the firmware will be able to distribute the more frequently accessed data into the faster and typically more expensive solid-state drives. The PS600XVS series of storage area network (SAN) products, with prices starting from US$50,000, take advantage of this new feature. The firmware also allows better integration with VMware platforms by allowing virtual machines to be stored on the EqualLogic intelligent SAN’s and interacting with it at faster speeds compared with the traditional ESX Hypervisor.

Dell is planning to perform similar updates to the series entry-level storage devices, the MD series, which retails from $11,000.

Joining the new lineup will be the fiber optics core switch range from Brocade, the B-RX16 with pricing starting at $38,500. The Brocade 815 and 825 Fiber Channel primary bus adapters are Dell’s only 8-Gigabit Fiber Channel while the PowerConnect 8024 will be its’ maiden 10-Gigabit Ethernet copper-based switches. It will retail from $15,000 onwards.

What The Future Holds

Dell’s data and networking share of the market is undoubtedly growing and their commitments to these latest products are more evidence of that. The iSCSI firmware updates are particularly exciting, as it would allow enterprises the option of investing in both types of drives for their internal SAN’s solution as opposed to completely converting their storage into the more expensive SSDs.

The increasing range of the product solutions are also a heartening indicator of the intent and the other data centre giants would be wise to keep track of Dell from now on.