Dell Girds for the Grid

Hardware vendor has teamed up with Intel and Oracle in an attempt to crack the grid computing market

March 24, 2005

3 Min Read
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Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) today announced a slew of new services and products, all with an eye on the grid computing market.

Part of the package includes services. Dell is now hoping to tap into this burgeoning market with the launch of its Data Center Environment Assessment service. Designed for data centers from 200 square feet upwards, the service helps customers analyze their infrastructures, taking into account such things as air flow, cooling, and power requirements -- all of which have become data-center dilemmas (see Data Center Heat Wave and The Heat Is On).

However, Dells archrivals, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), have already been targeting this part of the market for some time. HP, for example, launched its own cooling solutions for data center design over two years ago; and IBM Global Services also offers a range of planning, design, and construction services.

Dell may not have first-mover advantage in data center design, but the assessment service forms part of a much broader grid computing strategy. Last year Dell and a number of other vendors delved into the file cabinet labeled marketing hyperbole and came up with the ‘Project MegaGrid’ initiative.

Although it sounds like a German techno band, Project MegaGrid is actually a strategy involving Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) to develop a standard approach to deploying grid infrastructures.A number of users have already voiced their concerns to NDCF about the lack of standards around grid computing. Some have even predicted that we could be as much as 10 years away from sharing a broad range of applications across complex grid architectures (see Grid Computing: Baby Steps).

In an attempt to address these concerns, Dell added some flesh to the bones of Project MegaGrid today by unveiling new hardware developed jointly with Oracle and Intel. The new four-processor PowerEdge 6800 and 6850 database servers contain Intel’s latest Xeon chips and have also been validated for 32-bit configurations of Oracle’s 10g and 9i products. Other software supported includes Oracle’s Real Application Clusters and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) SQL.

This could be a shrewd move by the three vendors. Because the Xeon chips are 64-bit, Dell can ensure users a migration path to higher-performance versions of Oracle’s database products as well as Microsoft SQL Server 2005. In addition to lack of standards, the other major grid computing headache faced by users is the thorny issue of software licensing (see Software Licensing Gridlock).

On a conference call earlier today, Jeff Clarke, senior vice president of Dell’s enterprise product group, explained that Oracle has also opened a special competency center in Austin, Texas, to support Project MegaGrid. “It’s very secure,” he said. “It enables our customers to test their workloads on very large configurations before they have to spend lots of money.”

Clearly, reassurance is fast becoming the name of the grid computing game.Dell, however, again faces some stiff competition from IBM, HP, and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). Last month, for example, Sun bolstered its own grid story, and the other vendors have also been busy in this space (see Sun Grid Gets Thumbs Up, IBM Intros Grid Offering, and HP Delivers Storage Grid Solution).

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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