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Dell Unleashes New Virtualization Offerings

Dell is launching today its most comprehensive virtualization portfolio since acquiring EqualLogic in January 2008.

virtualization

The offerings include new hardware and new services geared toward making virtualization a more affordable—and more useful—solution for small and midsize businesses, according to Jim Skelding, director of small and medium business sales at Dell, at a briefing in New York this week.

"If I look at what EqualLogic has done, it's brought a value proposition to any business, including small business," Skelding said. "Storage doesn't have to be complex. And with the new product, the PS4000 [storage array], storage doesn't have to be expensive. Customers can enjoy same enterprise functionality that the Fortune 500 has enjoyed for a long time and it can be simple and inclusive."

Dell has had an eye towards a comprehensive virtualization solution since acquiring EqualLogic but the current economy has hastened the need, and increased the demand, for SMB-focused solutions in that area, Skelding said.

"If you look at the SMB side, cost is probably the No. 1 generating factor that is foremost on everyone's mind. They're asking how do we save and make [us] more productive," Skelding said.

Dell's new EqualLogic PS4000 array includes storage virtualization capabilities, thin provisioning and management features that integrate into existing SANs, according to Dell.

The company also recently added the PowerVault NX3000 SAN device, which shares files across Windows and non-Windows clients and reduces duplicate single-instant storage (SIS) technology, according to Dell. Additionally, the NX3000 can serve as an optional iSCSI target to support application data.

As part of the solution, Dell has also developed the PowerEdge R410, T410 and T710 servers with Intel Xeon 5500 processors.

Virtualization has been a big solution for midmarket and enterprise customers this year as company's look to tighten their belts, but small businesses have been tougher to convince, said executives at the briefing.

Vancestone Hall, a senior systems administrator at Artnet.com, a New York-based auction house and information services provider for art collectors, said virtualization has reduced his companies hosting costs from $100,000 per year to $30,000, with Dell's help.

"About a year ago, my boss came to me with one requirement: reduce costs. I was looking at virtualization for a while, but bringing to the business side and saying instead of having real machines we're going to have virtual, they weren't real receptive. They didn't want to do it at all," Hall said.

But he took the initiative to demonstrate to management how he could virtualize all 20 of their servers onto one server without disrupting the business. It was only a test, but they were sold. Now they have eight new servers, including two VMware servers. "It's a vast improvement over what we spent before," Hall said.

GreenPages, a Kittery, Maine-based solution provider, said its customers are asking about virtualization solutions, but also asking for help to integrate the technology into a bigger business plan. That has allowed the company to offer more services and build a more loyal customer base, said Mario Brum, enterprise solutions senior consultant for GreenPages.

"In the SMB space, everyone knows about virtualization. They also know the single largest pain point has been the shared storage element. Often times, that storage element brings complexity to the solution and clients don't adapt to a virtualization initiative," Brum said.

Dell's EqualLogic PS4000 array is going to add more capability, leading to faster adoption in small businesses, Brum said. "And VMware is packaging their licensing to follow," he added.

Brum said GreenPages, a longtime EqualLogic partner, said his company has overcome some initials fears of working with Dell since the merger.

"I'm happy to report the whole channel program has been successful for us. Impact to our EqualLogic business has been zero," Brum said. GreenPages was recently named Dell's EqualLogic channel partner of the year.

To spur demand in virtualization, Dell has launched a new tool to help end users determine where virtualization makes sense, Skelding said.

"It allows us to load into a customer infrastructure, an agent that can create nice big document of server and storage information, a full ROI analysis. It tells you what applications are ready for virtualization and which are not ready," Skelding said. "This is a remote tool. There is no need for a long professional services engagement and it's fraction of the cost of prior virtual readiness assessments. The idea is we want to offer end-to-end, not just hardware and software. We want to help you plan, deploy, and give you the tools to manage it."

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