Dell Targets SMBs With Servers And Storage Systems

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Dell is rolling out servers, storage systems and networking devices to help SMBs deal with today’s IT issues

Dell is rolling out new servers, storage systems and networking devices designed to help small and midsize businesses that are getting overrun by the rapidly rising tide of data.

In addition, many of these smaller businesses are trying to keep up older servers or desktop PCs that have been set up as servers, according to Tony Parkinson, director of Dell’s SMB unit. He estimated that about two-thirds of all SMBs are using a bulked-up desktop PC as a server.

“These server platforms just can’t keep up,” Parkinson said in an interview with eWEEK. Using PCs as servers “kind of works, but it’s just not scalable, and security is a problem”.

Building A Bridge For SMBs

Dell’s new offerings are designed to bring the latest technologies – including Intel’s new 2nd Generation Core “Sandy Bridge” processors – to SMBs to help them consolidate and simplify their IT infrastructures. It addresses that change in demand that Dell is seeing from the business segment, Parkinson said. In the past, SMBs addressed their back-end technology architecture in a piece-meal fashion.

Now, with rapid data growth, the need for greater security and easier manageability, and the introduction of such technologies as virtualisation, they are taking a more holistic approach, he said.

“Now they’re saying, ‘Help us map out what we can put into place that can scale,’” Parkinson said. “Virtualisation is a key even for smaller customers.”

Dell defines small companies as those with up to 100 users, and midsized companies with between 100 and 499 users.

Dell is rolling out the entry-level PowerEdge T110 II and mid-range R210 II servers. Both offer a choice of chips – depending on performance needs – including Intel’s new Xeon E3-1200 family, Core i3-2100 line-up and Pentium processors. The systems are powerful enough to run two or three virtual machines, and they double the storage capacity – from 16GB to 32GB – of their predecessors, Matt McGinnis, marketing director for Dell’s server platforms, said in an interview.

The system also comes with four DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots and Dell’s OpenManage suite of system-management offerings. In addition, Dell is offering a guide to help SMBs as they consider buying their first server or expanding their current IT infrastructure with new servers.

On the storage side, Dell is rolling out two offerings the company said would help SMBs manage the growing mountain of data while increasing the availability of the information. The PowerVault NX3500, a NAS (network-attached storage) offering that leverages technology Dell inherited in 2010 when it bought Exanet for $12 million. The NX3500 offers Dell’s Scalable File System, which gives the system scale-up capabilities for smaller-scale high-availability environments, the company said.

It works with Dell’s PowerVault MD32x0i and MD36x0i storage arrays to create a unified storage environment with iSCSI, CIFS (Common Internet File System) and NFS (Network File System) access to block and file data.

The PowerVault MD3600i brings 10 Gigabit Ethernet capabilities to SMBs. It can be quickly installed, can scale to meet a company’s growing needs, supports the virtualisation of infrastructure applications and gives midsized companies the ability to support virtualised infrastructures via 10GbE for remote offices.

Dell recently rolled out its PowerConnect 5500 and 7000 switch families to support SMB infrastructure deployments, offering simplified management as well as an energy-efficient design and Power-over-Ethernet capabilities.

The PowerConnect 7000 is aimed at midsized companies, distributed environments and larger server farms, according to Dell. The switches offer connectivity support to the new PowerEdge R210 servers and Dell’s EqualLogic storage arrays. The 5500 series offers 1GbE switches for SMBs and remote locations.

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