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Dell unveils workloads, features of converged infrastructure offering

Tom Walat

IT shops in need of a more efficient converged infrastructure might have found it.

A recent acquisition by Dell Inc. finally fell into place this week as the company offered some details on future versions of Active System Manager – including support of previously deployed third party platforms.

Dell’s Active Infrastructure will allow companies to provision workloads within hours – rather than months – after an Active System 800 has been unpacked through the Active System Manager application the company said is bolstered by its

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acquisition last month of Gale Technologies.

The speed of both provisioning the physical infrastructure and deploying virtual clusters will quicken the return on investments, the company said.

"From Dell's perspective, one of their major challenges is how do you put this together – not just the hardware or even the software combination,” said Rick Villars, vice president of data center and cloud research at IDC, a research firm based in Framingham, Mass. “But how do you put it together in terms of a delivery, training and implementation in order to overcome some of that friction?"

One way has been to acquire companies such as Gale that make fast deployments on smaller staffs more feasible, which makes Active Infrastructure more attractive.

Once a company makes a move to a converged infrastructure system, the business challenges don't go away, which may translate to more acquisitions from Dell to handle those growing needs.

"Most companies aren't just going to buy one of these," said Villars. "They're going to buy two or four and put them in multiple data centers. We've changed the scale from fewer building blocks, but they're bigger. So there's a lot of data management and high availability functions that are going to need to be added."

Popular integrated offerings from Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems Inc. are evolving, making it a challenge for Dell to chip away at its rivals. For instance, Cisco recently acquired Cloupia, an infrastructure automation software maker that occupied the same space as Gale.

Another challenge for Dell is to make inroads in companies where a substantial investment most likely has been made in existing infrastructure.

Dell also announced several workloads certified for the Active System 800 for companies that want to quickly deploy virtual desktops, unified communications and applications in a collaborative environment. The new templates are:
•    DVS Enterprise Active System 800 with Citrix XenDesktop Reference architecture
•    DVS Enterprise Active System 800 with VMware View Reference architecture
•    Microsoft Exchange 2010 Reference architecture
•    Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Reference architecture
•    Microsoft Lync 2010 Reference architecture

Active Infrastructure, first announced in October, replaces Dell's previous converged infrastructure offering named vStart and will also feature Dell Fluid Cache technology that will be tied to the Compellent storage array for applications that require high performance.
 


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