By Judy Mottl
From all accounts, virtualization is a win-win, whether we're talking storage or servers, as it drives efficiency from hardware to management for an IT organization.
Yet more than a few tech leaders are still wary of spending a nickel on anything they aren't convinced will provide a strong return-on-investment or drive efficiency.
Dell aims to convince every IT leader that virtualization does all that and more.
The vendor is pushing out a slew of new virtualization offerings, with several specifically built for the small-to-medium shop.
First up is the new Data Center virtualization configuration featuring Dell's PowerEdge M-series blades and EqualLogic PS6000 iSCSI storage technology, with Cisco Catalyst networking switches, VMware vSphere 4 and Platespin Migrate from Novell.
The SMB virtualization configuration includes the PowerEdge R710, Dell PowerVault MD3000i, PowerVault DL2000 (powered by Symantec for backup and PowerConnect networking technology) along with Microsoft's virtualization suite, including Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and System Center Essentials and System Center-Virtual Machine Manager 2008.
Additionally Dell is offering enhanced hypervisors with support for VMware vSphere 4 and Citrix Essentials for XenServer 5.0.
Dell's EqualLogic PS4000 includes enterprise-class storage virtualization, thin provisioning and management capabilities and integrates easily into existing EqualLogic storage area networks.
Dell is extending its 11th generation PowerEdge portfolio with Intel Xeon 5500 series processors to include the PowerEdge T410 and T710 tower servers and R410 rack server. The new systems meet the unique needs of SMBs and remote office locations with enhanced performance for general business applications.
In addition Dell's launched ProConsult services for remote evaluation of a business' existing IT environment and to quantify the ROI for implementing virtualization.
"It tells users what applications are ready for virtualization and which are not ready," says Dell's Jim Skelding, director of small and medium business sales. SMBs don't need, and can't typically afford long professional services engagements, adds Skelding, noting that Dell's service has minimal cost compared to traditional virtual readiness assessments.
In addition Dell has a new virtualization management toolkit. The ProManage Virtual Server Remote Monitoring and Reporting kit provides better visibility into VM performance and lets IT determine average utilization for processor, memory, network and disk at the VM level for easier virtual and physical asset management.
Virtualization can be a significant technology for SMBs, which Dell defines as companies with one to 499 employees, but tech shops have been slow on adoption, as they're concerned about time and management requirements, according to industry experts.
"While virtualization is not new to SMBs, it can be an intimidating and misunderstood concept," acknowledges Skelding.
To help SMBs better understand the value of virtualization, Dell is launching a new eSeminar series specifically targeting SMB issues and concerns starting on July 9.
Dell says its new offerings differ from competitors, which include IBM and HP, as it doesn't lock-in customers to one virtualization approach, proprietary platforms or virtualization-only appliances.
"Large enterprises, small-to-medium sized business and public-sector organizations face common IT obstacles that impede their ability to efficiently assess, deploy and manage technology," says Brad Anderson, Dell senior VP, enterprise product group.
One storage expert says Dell's SMB lineup puts the vendor right in line with competitors, and maybe a few steps ahead given Dell's internal virtualization experiences.
"As far as I know no one else is providing such pre-configured SMB virtualization technology," says storage analyst Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
Dell is also well aware of the strong ROI virtualization can deliver.
In a recent Web cast Dell leaders noted that the technology has saved the company approximately 60 million dollars by retiring about 10,000 servers.
While the ROI may not be as grand for SMBs, the impact can be just as significant, says Dell.
Skelding says one SMB customer, a global art distribution company, has cut annual capital expenses from $100,000 to $30,000 by implementing a customized Dell virtualization solution. Another, a software application provider for the cell phone industry, realized an immediate savings of about $20,000 per month, a 50 percent decrease in power, and ancillary savings of faster test to production times.
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