Dell gets serious about storage

Dell Computer is following server user trends and hotfooting it into the competitive storage market with a keen eye on storage area networks (SANs).

The company recently announced a suite of fibre-channel-based products to support SANs and, according to one executive, is banking its future success on a Microsoft NT standards-based approach.

Kevin Reinis, Dell's enterprise systems group director, said the new storage standard it developed with Microsoft is designed to give users the ability to repartition storage space without the need to reboot NT.

The idea, Reinis said, is to use a common pool of storage devices from disks to tape drives, all connected to the network using fibre channel switches and bridges.

The Dell solution incorporates Dell OpenManage software, the PowerVault 50F Fibre Channel switch, PowerVault 35F bridge and the Fibre Channel Optical host bus adapter.

Reinis said the switch is priced from $US10,000, which he claims is 50 per cent lower than "prevailing switch technologies".

Dell is not pursing its storage ambitions alone but working with other industry partners such as StorageTek and Clariion to both co-develop and make, in the role of original equipment manufacturer, the storage product line.

"We're not going to be vertically integrated in terms of storage," Reinis said.

He said Dell believes the portion of IT budgets originally dedicated to servers and workstations is also moving to encompass external storage systems such as SANs.

This means Dell is "following the money", Reinis said.

Dell already has a number of SAN customers worldwide, but is yet to secure an Australian customer.

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