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Dell throws down the data storage gauntlet

Company keen to show its strength after acquisitions

Dell has thrown down the data storage gauntlet to rival HP.

After going on the acquisition path over the last three years Dell has carved a greater niche for itself in the data management arena, and it was keen to show off its industry position at this week's Dell Storage Forum in Orlando, attended by over 1,000 partners and customers.

At the same time, HP was holding its user conference in Las Vegas, where it announced a new range of data storage products.

Last year HP acquired networking firm 3Com for $2.7 billion and cloud storage management company 3Par for $2.35 billion, a company which Dell was rumoured to be interested in. Over the last three years Dell has acquired EqualLogic, Perot Systems, Exanet, Ocarina Networks, and Scalent, with Compellent being added to the bunch for $940 million earlier this year.

All the companies aquired by HP and Dell are seen as important vehicles to improve storage utilisation, balance data workloads and automate storage tiering at companies, allowing them to improve productivity and more efficiently operate their storage networks.

Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager of Dell Storage, said: "It's not about the machines anymore, it's about the data, and the challenge for the industry is data lifecycle management."

Thomas told delegates he expected that by 2020, every man, woman and child who had ever lived on the planet would have been responsible for generating the equivalent of 2 terabytes of data each, a challenge for companies as "they are responsible for managing 80 percent of what is generated".

He said that before any IT upgrades were ever completed at firms, the amount of data would always double, which is why Dell was now focusing on its "Fluid Data" strategy.

Thomas said Fluid Data would mean bringing out storage products that made data "dynamic" - that it went where it needed to go automatically for optimum performance without having to deploy new hardware.

That said, Thomas used his keynote to launch a range of new hardware storage systems that helped demonstrate how Dell was integrating the technologies it has aquired over the last three years.

The new Dell EqualLogic FS7500 box uses Dell blade technology and EqualLogic technology to serve network attached storage (NAS) and unified storage markets. Dell claims it provides "up to 10 times more file share scalability than legacy unified storage offerings".

The next version of of Dell EqualLogic firmware was also announced - version 5.1 - to improve the performance of iSCSI connectivity and reliability in the data centre. It would improve automated load balancing for instance, said Dell.To support 8Gb fibre channel storage configurations "on a budget", the company also launched the Dell PowerVault MD3600f/MD3620f platforms.


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