Dell Pushes Ahead With Converged Data Centre Strategy

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

Dell ups its game in the converged data centre market with new management software and a unified networking fabric based on 10GbE.

Dell is building out its converged data centre vision with new infrastructure management software and 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to its server and storage offerings.

Dell entered the burgeoning unified data centre space in September, announcing partnerships with networking vendor Brocade Communications Systems and Scalent Systems, which makes automation software.

On 10 December Dell unveiled the latest steps it is taking to expand its offerings in this area as it looks to compete with the likes of Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. The vendors are pushing solutions that combine server, storage, networking and management software in single packages for greater efficiency and integration.

The companies are doing it through a combination of in-house technologies and products via partnerships.

Praveen Asthana, vice president of Dell Enterprise Storage and Networking, painted the competition’s offerings as more proprietary, saying Dell’s solution offers businesses greater flexibility.

“Our competitors are trying to take short cuts by providing proprietary stacks that create lock-in and really only benefit the vendor,” Asthana said in a statement. “Dell has a completely different vision. We provide a dynamically configurable offering that is really easy to set up or use because it comes pre-assembled or ready for assembly based on proven reference architectures; yet it remains fully open and works with a customer’s existing infrastructure.”

On the management front, Dell introduced software that enables IT administrators to quickly, efficiently and dynamically allocate data centre resources, including servers, storage and networking. Advanced Infrastructure Manager integrates with existing data centre environments and enables businesses to easily move workloads around physical and virtual environments without having to reload or reconfigure the applications.

The vendor also is offering Business Ready Configurations that include the latest server, storage and networking technologies The configurations each come with performance characterisation, best practice and networking guides. The first Business Ready Configuration comes with two PowerEdge M610 blade servers running the Infrastructure Manager, an EqualLogic PS6000 iSCSI SAN (storage area network) solution, two PowerConnect 6220M blade switches and a 24-port Brocade Foundry 424 or Dell PowerConnect 6224 networking switch.


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Version 1.3 of Dell Lifecycle Controller – an embedded management tool in 11th generation PowerEdge servers – enables users to remotely discover servers on the network, update necessary drivers and deploy operating systems anywhere.

A key part of Dell’s unified data centre strategy is a converged 10GbE networking fabric. Officials want to make it easier for businesses already deploying a mix of Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks to migrate to a converged fabric.

Dell is integrating 10GbE controllers to its EqualLogic PS6000 series storage arrays, enabling the PS6010 and PS6510 to deliver up to 10 times more bandwidth per port and more than two times more bandwidth per array than previous versions.

In addition, Dell is increasing the scalability of its EqualLogic PS series through its new EqualLogic PS6500X and EqualLogic version 4.3 Arrays containing the EqualLogic PS6500X with 10K SAS drives can scale to more than 460 terabytes of capacity, up from 115.2TB previously.

Dell also is rolling out its first 1U (1.75-inch) 10GbE switch. The new PowerConnect 8024F offers 24 ports and is aimed at data centre aggregation and network consolidation projects. The top-of-rack switch supports dense virtualisation deployments, iSCSI storage – including Dell’s EqualLogic offerings – and 10GbE traffic aggregation.

Through a partnership with QLogic, Dell is rolling out its first CAN (converged network adapter) for its PowerEdge servers. The dual-port CAN is based on QLogic technology from QLogic and offers FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) capabilities, enabling users to connect their servers and Fibre Channel-based SANs through a 10GbE fabric.

From the Brocade partnership, Dell is introducing a number of products, including its first FCoE switch.