Michael Dell's new focus on storage

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

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.