Dell, which has over the last few years acquired all the parts needed for an enterprise-class storage business, is using 2012 to assemble them into a unified storage offering that will compete with the best of its peers.
At the same, Dell also plans to integrate pricing and support programs from its acquisitions in order to make them more consistent, and is integrating cloud capabilities to its storage lines.
All together, Dell is out to completely redefine what the words "Dell storage" mean.
Dell last year demonstrated it could combine disparate technologies from multiple technologies. However, 2012 is the year when Dell will see the fruit of all its storage investments and acquisitions, said Carter George, executive director of strategy for Dell Storage.
"Lots of companies do acquisitions and end up with a grab bag of companies, with no coherent product lines," George said. "But with Dell, every acquisition we've done not only contributes viable products, but also includes key technologies we feel are important for the future that can be spread around across multiple product lines, making them part of a coherent product line."
Dell's plans are very important for solution providers, said Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and Dell partner who signed up with the vendor when it acquired Compellent.
As the industry consolidates, it's important for channel partners to align with big vendors, Winslow said.
"We used to be aligned with Compellent and Data Domain, but now we're with Dell," he said. "It's the place to go. Dell has been phenomenal. While it's still only 30 percent indirect, it's clear Dell wants to grow its channel sales. Dell is bringing us into customers we didn't see before because Compellent was too small. And Dell is showing it needs VARs like us to bring storage to some of their customers."
Aligning its storage products more closely will go far in helping solution providers improve their Dell business, said Patrick Mulvee, vice president of sales and marketing at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider who also became a Dell partner with the Compellent acquisition.
"Customers can buy more than one Dell storage platform," Mulvee said. "They can buy Compellent, EqualLogic, or PowerVault. They can also buy Dell servers, and Dell networking. So when Dell partners with us on the deal, we don't lose."
Dell's technical consolidation is a big task, given the amount of material Dell has gathered over the last few years.
Dell in early 2008 acquired storage vendor EqualLogic, a leader in iSCSI technology, and as a result became one of the top storage vendors in the industry.
Dell followed that acquisition with the purchase early last year of Compellent, which gave it an enterprise-class storage line.
Those acquisitions, along with its legacy entry-level PowerVault storage line, gave Dell three disparate product offerings with no ties between them.
However, Dell has also acquired such companies as Ocarina, which gives it a strong compression and deduplication technology, and Exanet, a developer of scalable NAS technology. Dell last year also acquired its Force10 Networks, giving it its own networking offering.
Dell has already started integrating technology from its smaller acquisitions across its three storage lines and, in the process, make it possible to tie the three more closely. For instance, Dell last year added its Ocarina compression technology to its DX Object Storage Platform for storing unstructured content, and Exanet scalable NAS technology to its EqualLogic line.
However, that move will accelerate in 2012, George said.
Next: Expanding Scalable NAS, Dedupe Tech To More Storage Lines