Dell extends services to small businesses

Hardware giant Dell Computer fleshed out its service offerings Monday with a new program that gives small businesses a hand with building out their computer networks.

Dell launched a new set of services that aim to help companies with network design and installation, and with training employees to use the new technology, the company said in a statement. They mark the first in a planned series of service offerings that the PC, server and storage maker will offer to small and medium-sized customers.

Dell has been touting its services capabilities more of late, along with other vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. For the most part they have been targeting the lucrative market where their shared rival IBM Corp. has been king. Compared to IBM or HP, however, Dell has a much smaller services organization.

Dell's new network design services start at US$199. This includes an assessment of a customer's current network, and advice on how much it will have to spend on servers, storage, software and technical support to set up a particular new hardware configuration, Dell said in the statement.

Dell will back this up with installation services for any of its products including PCs, workstations, switches, servers, storage gear and software. The Round Rock, Texas, company will transfer data from old hardware onto the new systems as well as a customer's existing software packages. It did not provide pricing for the installation services.

Dell will also offer professional training courses for $99 a year, including online instruction in more than 340 applications. It said the courses are "ideal for customers with no IT staff."

Local Dell spokesman Rob Small says these services will also be provided to small businesses in Australia, but will be provided through Dell's partners rather than in-house.

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