Dell launches new servers, management tools

Datacentre war gathers pace as Dell jumps the gun on Intel's Nehalem launch

Dell has launched 14 new products globally including new servers and management tools it says will reduce datacentre costs and boost speed of deployment. Among other features, some of Dell's new servers and storage systems come with built in solid state memory to boost performance.

The move comes as a war builds with Cisco entering the market this month with new products promising to "unify" the datacentre. The Unified Computing System, comprises virtualisation technology, services and blade servers to develop and manage what it calls "next-generation datacentres". Dell's new products are also clearly aimed at industry giant HP.

Dell says its portfolio of products will free enterprises from "costly proprietary technologies". The fourteen new products, including blades, servers, storage, services and workstations, it says, help customers cut cost and complexity through simplified management, virtualisation and new design features.

Dell's new 11g PowerEdge servers and Precision series workstations are based on the next generation of Intel’s processors, Nehalem, to deliver improved performance. The PowerEdge R710, a rack unit, costs from NZ$$4,986, while Dell's EqualLogic PS6000 Storage Area Network array starts from NZ$39,36.

Further specifications will be released when Intel launches Nehalem, Dell says.

Dell is also tilting at HP with the release, labelling HP’s management framework "proprietary". It says its Dell Management Console (DMC), delivered in association with Symantec's Altiris group, unites systems management into a single console. At a briefing and demonstration session in Sydney, Dell demonstrated the new embedded DMC software, saying it reduces the number of management consoles by 80% and the amount of backend hardware by 50%.

As the software is embedded, the 11g servers will have no media in the box on delivery.

Altiris is a platform that other vendors can use and build on to deliver systems management. Plug-ins for competing products will be available either through those vendors or through Symantec.

Also featuring is a unified server configurator to cut deployment and set-up times and eliminate the need to download drivers.

There were a couple of subtle differences between the global and the ANZ announcements, released today. Globally, Dell is offering systems management consulting and tools improve datacentre operations but this appears to be absent form the ANZ portfolio.

Dell claims its R710 server provides the industry’s best performance per watt and includes embedded Lifecycle Controller software for integrated manageability via a one access point.

Intel is due to launch the Xeon chips on March 30. Initial offerings will be targeted at workstations and servers. Apple and Lenovo have already announced workstations with dual- and quad-core Xeon chips, with server announcements from other vendors expected during the launch. Later this year Intel could release Nehalem-based chips with six cores and eight cores, according to the company's road map.

"Nehalem is a significant architecture that overcomes certain limitations Intel faced in the past," said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat. "This is a much bigger jump than they have had in quite a big time."

Perhaps the most significant change is that the Xeon chips integrate a memory controller on the CPU, which gives the chip a faster path to communicate with the memory, said Dan Olds, principal analyst with Gabriel Consulting Group. It removes the memory latency that affected earlier Intel processors, which should translate to better server performance.

— Additional reporting by Agam Shah. Rob O'Neill travelled to Sydney with Dell.

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