Dell Gets to Market First

by David Needle

Dell's PowerEdge 1950, 2950, and 2900 servers, based on Intel's dual-core Xeon processor, are available now -- ahead of IBM's and HP's offerings.

HP and IBM have already announced new servers powered by Intel's latest dual-core Xeon processors, but Dell will be the first major vendor to ship them.

Dell said PowerEdge 1950, 2950, and 2900 servers based on Intel's "Dempsey", the 5000 series dual-core Xeon processor, are available now. The Xeon series 5100, codenamed Woodcrest, will be available in the PowerEdge series in the next few weeks.

Dell notes it's seen as much as a 152 percent performance improvement in the 5100 series over the previous generation of 2U Dell PowerEdge servers. HP and IBM have said their new servers, expected out soon, also boast much higher performance.

"We've reached the point that price performance is pretty much equivalent, it's the least interesting aspect," John Enck, a vice president of research with Gartner, told internetnews.com. "The discussion is really moving more to manageability, services and options around the box, as well as power issues around the data center."

Neil Hand, Dell's vice president of worldwide enterprise marketing, agreed performance issues are no longer the top IT priority and that Dell uses many of the same components as other manufactures.

Dell's strategy with this new line of servers is to standardize as many of the components and placement of components throughout the computer for easier serviceability. Dell also now lays claim to being the only system vendor with a single system image (BIOS, drivers, operating systems, and applications) to manage three different servers.

Enck said the changes are good and shows Dell's continued investment in R&D, but he doesn't think the new systems will upset the competitive balance. "I don't see the fortunes of Intel, Dell, or AMD  changing with this announcement. This is Intel finally realizing they were behind AMD in performance and power issues and catching up if not being a bit ahead now."

Like its competitors, Dell said its latest servers reduce power consumption. In Dell's case, by as much as 25 percent.

"What IT customers are focused on is how to better manage their environment and the chaos that's been created there," Hand told internetnews.com in a briefing here.

Hand said hardware costs have remained relatively stable the past few years, but the cost of managing those systems has risen about ten percent annually.

These systems also feature what Dell believes is the first programmable LCD warning light for a quick visual diagnosis of server faults.

The Dell PowerEdge 1950, 2900 and 2950 servers based on the Xeon 5000 series are priced starting at $1,749 to $1,849. The same systems and new blade systems based on the 5100 series Xeons will be available in the next few weeks, with pricing to be announced then.

In a related move, Dell  Wednesday unveiled two network-attached storage machines: the 2900 Storage Server and 2950 Storage Server. The machines help corporate customers store and share files. They are based on Dell's PowerEdge 2900 and 2950 servers.

Howard Shoobe, senior manager of the Dell PowerVault Disk portfolio, said the new storage servers can be pre-installed and pre-configured with Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 in as little as 15 minutes.

This is a boon at a time when some machines take hours to configure and run. The systems also include single instance storage (SIS) and file replication features with a distributed file system to pipe files to remote branch offices.

Dell's NAS storage servers are available today, starting at $2,980.

Dell today also added to its line of tape libraries, with the PowerVault ML6030 control module (CM) and PowerVault ML6000 expansion module (EM). These products include self-diagnostic capabilities.

The ML6000 EM offers additional drive and cartridge capacity for any ML6000 solution, while the ML6030 CM can scale up to 10 Fibre Channel  or SCSI  tape drives and 218 LTO-3 cartridges.

Customers can purchase the PowerVault ML6030 CM at around $36,000 and the PowerVault ML6000 EM for $13,000.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com. Clint Boulton contributed to this story.

This article was originally published on Thursday Jun 8th 2006
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