Dell has unleashed a wave of products and services for the enterprise market, including servers targeting customers of its Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) division, new enterprise storage arrays, advanced data protection offerings, and deployment services to help organisations struggling with IT infrastructure.
Announced at the Dell World conference in Austin, Texas, the products are part of the firm's ongoing efforts to position itself as the provider of choice for a comprehensive range of enterprise IT requirements. These include challenges that enterprise firms now face as the IT industry experiences a period of rapid change.
"We are at the intersection of traditional and new IT," said Peter Barnes, Dell UK director of enterprise solutions, at a briefing ahead of Dell World.
"Businesses somehow have to continue supporting all their traditional IT systems while adopting all this kind of new stuff, about cloud and the ‘Martini' challenge - anytime, anywhere, any device - and the software-defined everything coming at us," he explained.
Barnes also spoke briefly about Dell's acquisition of EMC, saying that it was "Michael Dell's second great masterstroke" after taking Dell private in 2013. It is still early days, but Barnes said that it offered great opportunity for synergies, as there is relatively little overlap between the two portfolios.
Right now, however, Dell is unveiling extended support services to provide customers with expertise in getting IT infrastructure up and running.
Available immediately, ProDeploy follows the model of Dell's ProSupport services, offering a similar division into three service levels with an increasing level of sophistication, according to Tim Loake, director of services for Dell UK.
At the bottom is basic deployment, which sees an engineer turn up to a customer site, put the gear in a rack, cable it up and power it on. The next level sees customers getting a dedicated project manager to oversee the installation, all the way from purchase through to signing off the kit as fully operational, including operating system and hypervisor deployment, if required.
"We commissioned a series of focus groups last year, and the number one thing customers told us is that the biggest pain point for them is project management and planning," Loake said.
At the top end is ProDeploy Plus, under which engineers will visit the customer site and survey their estate. For new storage, customers also get migration planning to move their data, while on the networking side, Dell promises to integrate any new products with a customer's existing infrastructure from any other major network vendor.
Dell claims that its engineers can do the job faster and with less planning time than a customer's own IT department, and can deliver savings of up to $2,000 per hardware unit deployed when compared with the customer doing the job itself.
A great deal of Dell's enterprise business is done via resellers, so Dell is also enabling engineers from its channel partners to become certified for ProDeploy and provide the actual fulfilment of the service, Loake said.
On the server side, Dell is introducing the first systems under its DSS division that launched in August.
Available to order now, these comprise the DSS 7000, an ultra-dense server optimised for storage capacity which can fit up to 90 3.5in drives along with two twin-socket server nodes into a single 4U rack-mount chassis for a maximum 720TB of storage.
Also available are the DSS 1500, DSS 1510 and DSS 2500 1U and 2U "pizza box" servers designed to scale by cramming as many as possible into a data centre rack.
All these systems are essentially stripped down versions of existing Dell servers (the DSS 7000 is based on the DCS XA90), which can be customised to the requirements of customers such as service providers.
"Everything these guys don't want is stripped out, so it's almost a bare chassis, but what they do want is the Dell quality, an account executive they can go to, and 24x7 support so if something goes wrong they can just pick up the phone, and they want seven to 15 days' lead time," said Robin Kuepers, director of data centre solutions for Dell in EMEA.
Dell is also adding models to its XC Series of converged infrastructure appliances based on the Nutanix platform. One, the Dell XC6320, focuses on high density, fitting four compute nodes and more than 44TB of storage into a 2U chassis.
This is complemented by an all-Flash version, the XC6320-6F, and an all-Flash version of the existing XC630, the XC630-10F. Currently, the all-Flash versions feature only a single storage tier, but tiering between different types of flash drive will be supported in the future, according to Dell.
On the storage side, Dell is topping off its arrays based on the Compellent platform with a new SC9000 storage array controller, based on Dell's 13th generation of PowerEdge server hardware supporting 12Gbps SAS and over 3PB of raw storage.
The SC9000 also introduces version 6.7 of the Storage Center software platform, adding mission-critical capabilities such as auto-failover in the Live Volume high availability feature for "zero workload downtime", according to Dell UK's director for storage, Paul Harrison.
Another new capability, Thin Import, enables customers to migrate data volumes from Dell EqualLogic storage arrays to the Compellent platform.
Finally, Dell unveiled Dell Data Protection | Rapid Recovery (DDP|RR), a new backup and recovery tool that draws on the AppAssure platform it effectively replaces.
Shipping before the end of the year, DDP|RR offers a new Rapid Snap capability that can capture an entire application and its relevant state, enabling a restore in seconds should a failure occur. For virtual machines, Dell has also taken the agent-less vRanger technology and integrated this to provide backup for VMware environments today, with Hyper-V support coming in the future.
Dell is also releasing Data Protection | Endpoint Recovery, which can provide continuous backup and protection of endpoint devices, starting with Windows devices in this release.
The tool can back up thousands of endpoints, working in the background so the end user does not even know it is running, using a private cloud as the target. Support for public clouds will come in a future release.
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