Configurations Made Easier

Renaming its Dellplus service Dell Custom Factory Integration, Dell Computer Corp. on Monday will begin offering almost any combination of computer operating system and application configuration its customers can imagine.

Dell's new "anything goes" configuration option will be supported through a new program called Dell Image Management, which has two implementations, according to Dell Custom Factory Integration vice president Frank Miller.

The first, Image Development and Validation, gives customers the option of allowing Dell technicians to design and test the customer's system image.

Customers will use an online checklist to choose which operating system, applications, network drivers, and even network peripherals, such as NICs (network interface cards), that they require. The Round Rock, Texas-based company will then create the configuration, perform testing in the customer's network environment, and retain a backup of the system image if the customer requests it.

The second implementation, Image Deployment and Maintenance, will help customers, particularly enterprise IT organizations struggling with large PC and notebook computer deployments, to better cope with the impact of continuous hardware and software changes as they effect a company's particular system image.

Until now, Dell customers wanting advanced notice of changes in software or hardware that would effect their system images have had to use Dell's Image Watch, a service offered to Dell's Premier Page customers that provides "a rolling six- to 12-month view of upcoming changes or upgrades to hardware or software that effect Dell products," Miller said.

Dell will now take the initiative and contact the customer first, making Image Deployment and Maintenance " a more proactive way of informing customers of changes," Miller said.

Erik Herazo, the information technology category manager at Beckton Dickenson, a global manufacturer of disposable and diagnostic medical products based in Franklin Lakes, N.J., said that even with his company's vast resources, the new Dell service is a benefit.

"It adds no value to our company by having to [build our own system image]," Herazo said. "Let's give it to the people who have the expertise and let's concentrate on what we will be doing in the future. What applications we will need to introduce to our image is crucial, but actually building the image has no value to us."

Pricing for Dell Custom Factory Integration services varies depending on the size and requirements of any particular deployment.

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