Dell Plans Data Center Building Spree, Unveils Virtualization Wares


Dell is planning a $1 billion investment in cloud computing and virtualization this fiscal year that includes significant expansion of data center capacity and a deeper focus on sales training and expertise.

In a press conference in San Francisco Wednesday, Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services, said Dell intends to increase its number of technology specialists and provide virtualization and cloud solutions training across its services and sales organizations. Dell also is building 10 new next-generation data centers in unspecified locations around the world to support its cloud computing strategy.

"These will be modern data centers housing public and private cloud capabilities," Schuckenbrock said at the event.

Dell is looking to remake itself as a solution-oriented company, and the Round Rock, Texas-based firm plans to open 22 so-called Global Solution Centers over 18 months. These facilities will serve as proof-of-concept test beds for customers looking to deploy Dell technologies, as well as a showcase for Dell's ability to address key customer pain points, said Schuckenbrock.

To demonstrate the capabilities Dell has gained from its recent acquisition spree, Praveen Asthana, Dell's vice president of Enterprise Solutions and Strategy, unveiled three new Dell solutions in the areas of data center virtualization, e-mail and file archiving, and desktop virtualization.

Dell's vStart is a preassembled software and hardware virtualization solution that consists of PowerEdge servers, EqualLogic storage and PowerConnect switches and can run up to 200 virtual machines. vStart also comes with initial deployment services necessary to get customers up and running. It’s available now in the U.S. and slated for launch in the second quarter in EMEA.

Asthana said vStart removes the technical headaches customers sometimes encounter in setting up and managing virtual machines. "Customers are now more interested in buying virtual machines than physical hardware that they have to assemble. It's not that easy to do," he said. "Customers spend far too much time integrating and trying to optimize software for deploying virtual machines."

Dell also has widened its existing partnership with Microsoft, inking a new three-year agreement that will draw tighter connection between Dell’s Virtual Integrated System and Advanced Infrastructure Manager products and Microsoft System Center. This, Asthana said, will improve integration across the physical, virtual and application layers and "radically change the economics of virtualization deployments."

Dell also is taking aim at the difficulties some organizations are having with desktop virtualization deployments, which have inhibited adoption of the technology. Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DDVS) combines prepackaged services with configured and tested hardware and software. It's available now and is expected to become available internationally "later this year", according to Dell.

Asthana said Dell's new E-Mail and File Archive solution, which includes preconfigured reference architectures that can be customized as needed by customers, is meant to tackle the management challenges companies have with exploding data stores and can optimize storage environments. It's available now in the U.S. and slated for launch in the U.K., France, Germany and the Netherlands in the second quarter.

Dell hasn't been stingy on the M&A front in the past couple of years, and now we're starting to see how these deals are making their way into products. Dell's rivals in the data center space are packaging up the various technology pieces they've brought in through deals into tidily packaged solutions, and it's clear that Dell sees the viability of this approach.

"These are indicative of the kinds of solution we want to bring to market on an ongoing basis," Schuckenbrock said.