Dell acquired iSCSI specialist EqualLogic two years ago in a move designed to beef up its storage portfolio. Since that time, the storage market has changed, as growing interest in virtualisation placed new demands on infrastructure, and the economic downturn made organisations re-evaluate spending on costly infrastructure such as storage area networks (SANs).
However, the EqualLogic storage products have "exceeded all expectations", according to Praveen Asthana, vice president of Dell's Enterprise Storage and Networking business, who believes that iSCSI will account for a growing part of the enterprise storage market in the future.
"Before the acquisition, we had about 2,000 or 3,000 storage customers, but now there are up to 12,000, about 4,000 of which are in Europe," he said.
The move has "definitely paid off", according to Asthana, as Dell's storage business is growing faster than most of the rest of the market, and has brought many benefits to the company outside the core storage area.
"It has helped us with getting into the channel. The EqualLogic guys had good channel sales, and we had not really focused much on this before," he said.
EqualLogic has also enabled Dell to build better infrastructure to serve enterprise customers seeking to deploy technologies such as virtual desktops, according to Asthana.
"One of the reasons we bought EqualLogic is that it had the best storage technology for server virtualisation. Customers who had bought into iSCSI weren't complaining [about teething problems] as much as those with other technologies, and VMware itself used EqualLogic kit for development. We looked on it as a great asset for our overall business," he explained.
EqualLogic's iSCSI products, which use standard Ethernet infrastructure to connect servers with storage arrays, have been doing well in shops that have traditionally relied on Fibre Channel technology, as well as those building new projects, according to Asthana.
This is backed by figures from Forrester Research showing very high recent adoption rates for iSCSI compared with a few years ago. Analysts had predicted 44 per cent year-on-year growth for the technology, but the actual figure has turned out to be double that at about 88 per cent.
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