Dell unveils new virtualisation products

Vendor is taking the technology to the SMB market, analyst says. By Nancy Gohring

Dell has made a number of announcements designed around virtualisation.

On September 10, it introduced two blade servers, support for more capacity in its storage products, and new partnerships with companies that offer virtualisation management products and services. The news is tied to an announcement on September 8 of support for Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation software.

The PowerEdge M805 and M905 blades were designed from scratch with virtualisation in mind, says Sally Stevens, director of server platform marketing at Dell. The M805 is a two-socket AMD blade with 16 DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules); the M905 is a four-socket AMD blade with 24 DIMMs.

The blades are power-efficient and offer more DIMMs than do comparable servers from Hewlett-Packard, Stevens says.

Dell also announced it will support Citrix Xenserver out of the box on its EqualLogic PS series of storage arrays. "When you get your Xen licence and hook it up to an array, it's ready to go," says Praveen Asthana, director of worldwide storage marketing for Dell.

IT departments will be able to buy a new storage array from Dell that supports more data. The new PS5500E can handle 576TB using a single management interface.

Customers getting into virtualisation for the first time, and current virtualisation users who want to better manage the process, will also see expanded help from Dell. The company is partnering with Vizioncore to offer backup and restore capabilities tuned for virtualised environments, and is also teaming up with PlateSpin to offer optimisation and lifecycle management services.

Dell will also offer a version of its Auto-Snapshot Manager that is compatible with VMware. The manager is designed to help protect virtual machines and let users do things such as restore individual virtual machines, rather than having to restore them all even if only one is needed.

The announcements appear in line with Dell's attempts to make it easier for companies to use virtualisation. "Dell is still very suited for that customer looking to open up the box when it comes in the door and have virtualisation," says Mark Bowker, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group.

Simplifying installation and use may particularly appeal to small or medium-sized businesses, which tend to be the budget-conscious organisations that are attracted to Dell products, Bowker says. By comparison, Dell competitors HP and IBM have the reputation of offering a broader selection of products and services for large datacentres, he says.

Dell has generally had a reputation as the cheap option, agrees Michael Cote, an analyst with Redmonk. But over the past couple of years, it has been working toward dispelling that cheap image. "Paying more attention to things like virtualisation and offering more than just a box would probably help them out along those lines," he says.

In addition, the new blades and storage array have more capabilities and so could appeal to larger companies.

Dell joins others, such as HP, Microsoft and BMC Software, that made virtualisation announcements in the run-up to VMware's annual VMworld conference, which took place in Las Vegas last week.

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