Michael Dell's new focus on storage

Michael Dell's new focus on storage

Summary: Wave good-bye to your 60% gross margins!Michael Dell is on the warpath, seeking to revive Dell's flagging fortunes.

TOPICS: Hardware, Dell, Storage

Wave good-bye to your 60% gross margins! Michael Dell is on the warpath, seeking to revive Dell's flagging fortunes. Storage, with its 60% gross margins, is ripe for the plucking through commoditization. And who knows more about commoditizing IT than Michael Dell?

Right, the $1.4 billion acquisition of EqualLogic. Anything else? You probably know you can buy low-end EMC Clariion storage at Dell, along with Dell's own PowerVault systems. Plus the EqualLogic systems, notable for providing almost every software feature you're likely to ever need, all for one package price. But there's more.

Build a Dell supercomputer? For example, HPC clusters and storage. Stanford created a 1,696 core supercomputer cluster, for their Flow Physics lab. Dell's Advanced Systems Group put it together.

Fitted with Infiniband and the Linux cluster Rocks+ distro, high-performance Panasas parallel file storage and a jazzy visualization wall, you'd never guess little old Dell could do this. Dell sells all the products including the Panasas gear.

Eat your hearts out, gamers.

More cluster storage Dell also resells the little-known Ibrix cluster storage software. Slap it on a bunch of Dell servers and you can have a powerful NAS infrastructure for enterprise use.

But that's not all. Rumor has it that Dell is working on a high-density storage box - like 48 drives in the chassis - to complement its cluster offerings. Mr. Dell wants to take on the current $10/GB storage array business.

It is about time. Storage is a fat target.

Update: The first commenter is skeptical about Dell's ability to sell complex storage. But that is part of the change in high-end storage: products that are much easier to configure, install and manage. Especially those that use Ethernet interconnects and self-discovering cluster software. A new cluster can be up in a few minutes. That ease of translates into fewer support headaches and is perfect for Dell's business model.

Comments welcome, of course. Disclosure: I've done consulting with Panasas.

Topics: Hardware, Dell, Storage

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  • Lack of Focus & Expertise

    I find it highly unlikely that Dell will affect the storage market beyond simply reselling other people's hardware (EMC, LSI, IBM, etc.) at low margins. Dell lacks the expertise in its sales force to even explain simple storage concepts and relies very heavily on its software and hardware partners to sell anything (ever notice that Dell will bring in a hardware rep and software rep as soon as you want to buy any storage solution?). For example, as soon as you mention the word backup or archive, the Dell sales force runs to Symantec (SW) and EMC (HW) to explain the solution to you and to close the deal.

    Until Dell is able to partner with industry leaders who want to help them move storage downmarket and until it develops a specialized storage sales force, it will not be able to affect the commoditization of storage nor standardize storage features.

    Dell will always preach that it is making storage simpler, but honestly -- 2 wizards and a pretty GUI do not make storage simpler.
  • RE: Michael Dell's new focus on storage

    I too am skeptical but eager to see change. My opinion
    comes from the fact that we just purchased an ESX
    setup from Dell, complete with MD3000i, the
    documentation is non existent, and the virtual
    technology 64bit was turned off in the BIOS by default
    and the MD3000 is sitting here unplugged cause we're
    not sure what do to with it :/ The hardware comes
    from the factory disabled for the solution it was sold

    To their credit, this is new hardware to us (the iSCSI).
    • Go to the LSI Logic web site and

      check out the LSI Engenio 1333 documentation set. Dell rebranded the MD3000i
      from them. Also look at the Simplicity Storage Management Software.

      This is why Dell NEEDS to keep EqualLogic's VAR channel. But in time, with truly
      simple storage products, Dell should be successful.


      R Harris