Dell Aims Management Software, 10G Ethernet at Data Centers

Dell added 10-Gigabit Ethernet to its EqualLogic storage line and introduced infrastructure management software in a set of product announcements Thursday to round out its data-center offerings.

Also on tap in the year-end lineup are a new 10-Gigabit Ethernet switch, 10-Gigabit Ethernet converged network adapters for the company's PowerEdge servers, and a series of switches based on Brocade technology that can connect with traditional Fibre Channel or Ethernet networks. Dell also introduced lifecycle management software and a program to deliver infrastructure management solutions that are already tested and ready to order.

Dell wants to help enterprises migrate toward unified Ethernet data-center networks from current mixed architectures that use both Ethernet and Fibre Channel. The company says it can help enterprises do so with lower acquisition costs, making that strategy more accessible, a classic Dell proposition.

The infrastructure management software introduced on Thursday is designed to ease customers' moves toward virtualized data centers. The Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager software lets administrators move workloads around a data center quickly without reloading software, recabling or reconfiguring. It works with VMware, Hyper-V and Xen virtualization environments, as well as on infrastructure that hasn't been virtualized, allowing managers to deploy physical server images as fast as they can virtual servers, according to Dell. The software is available now in the U.S. and Canada, and is expected to ship in other countries next year.

The company also introduced Dell Lifecycle Controller, version 1.3, the latest version of an embedded management solution on PowerEdge servers. Coming in the 11th generation of the PowerEdge line, the new version will let administrators remotely discover servers, update drivers and deploy operating systems quickly, Dell said. It can be downloaded now from Dell's Web site.

Using new 10-Gigabit Ethernet controllers for the EqualLogic iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) storage line, Dell is introducing new arrays, the EqualLogic PS6010 and PS6510. The PS6010 is set for availability on Dec. 15 and the PS6510 on Jan. 15. Their Gigabit Ethernet predecessors, the PS6000 and PS6500, are still available.

The EqualLogic line also gained more scale in the form of the PS6500X array, which comes with version 4.2 of EqualLogic firmware and represents a big increase in capacity over the PS6000X, which remains available. The PS6500X, a 48-drive array, can be joined in groups of 16 arrays for a total capacity of 460TB, up from just 115.2TB with the PS6000X. The new array is available immediately.

Dell also added some 10-Gigabit Ethernet offerings to its data-center networking gear. It introduced the PowerConnect 8024F, the company's first 1U 10-Gigabit Ethernet switch. The top-of-rack switch has a total of 28 ports, all with full wire-speed 10-Gigabit capability. They are designed to support iSCSI storage such as the EqualLogic line, as well as aggregation in dense, virtualized data centers. The switch is available now.

Working with QLogic, Dell also introduced converged network adapters (CNAs) for PowerEdge servers that feature FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) technology. They will let servers connect to Fibre Channel storage networks through a 10-Gigabit Ethernet network fabric, allowing companies to use the same physical infrastructure for different types of traffic. The QLogic 10-Gigabit CNA is expected to ship Dec. 15 and the CNA mezzanine card on Dec. 17.

The company also announced a line of switches based on Brocade products, including the first Dell FCoE switch. The Dell PowerConnect-B MLX, RX, DCX and 8000 series are expected to be available around the world beginning Feb. 15, 2010.

To make deployment easier for enterprises, Dell will introduce a series of Dell Business Ready Configurations, which are specific combinations of server, storage and networking products that are easy to understand and buy. Its first Business Ready Configuration will combine PowerEdge blade servers, an EqualLogic iSCSI storage network, PowerConnect blade switches and a Brocade or PowerConnect networking switch. The Business Ready Configurations are expected to be available in the U.S. and Canada within one quarter and in other countries in 2010.

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