Dell takes another shot at midrange SAN users

Dell has announced the release of a storage area network (SAN) disk array aimed at midrange-level users, saying the new device is priced 35% to 45% less than its predecessors depending on how it's configured.

          Dell Computer this week announced the release of a storage area network (SAN) disk array aimed at midrange-level users, saying the new device is priced 35% to 45% less than its predecessors depending on how it's configured.

          The new PowerVault 660F array, the first SAN device that Dell is manufacturing itself, is aimed at improving the company's ability to compete with Compaq Computer and other rivals in the midrange storage market. Dell says the array can support more than 7TB of storage capacity in a single rack, and prices start at $US45,000.

          The 660F is targeted at small businesses and workgroups within larger companies, says Bruce Kornfeld, director of PowerVault storage marketing at Dell. Kornfeld adds that Dell was able to reduce its costs by using in-house technology, a change from the PC maker's previous practice of reselling storage arrays made by EMC's Clariion division.

          The new device is based on Fibre Channel storage technology and enables users to link up to 20 Windows NT servers for a maximum data capacity of 70TB on a single SAN. The 660F also is being bundled with upgraded storage management and consolidation software as well as a set of SAN administration tools, Dell says.

          Tony Prigmore, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group in Milford, Massschusetts, says the self-made array is Dell's latest stab at winning a bigger share of the midrange SAN market, which is currently led by vendors such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

          With PC demand slowing down, Prigmore adds, Dell has made a serious commitment to winning over more users at the enterprise level - a plan that Dell CEO Michael Dell outlined last month. Illustrating the importance of making such a strategic shift, Dell yesterday disclosed that profits for its fiscal fourth quarter will be well below expectations.

          "Our view is that at this point in time, Dell had a run at the packaged SAN market and Compaq won that battle," Prigmore says. "We view this [new array] as the second chance for Dell. It will be interesting to watch how Compaq responds."

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