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With 3Par Acquisition, Dell Shows They Are Serious About Storage

Over the past few years, Dell has taken carefully measured and calculated steps with its storage business, namely the acquisition of EqualLogic and the pumping up its engineering and sales organization to support greater storage sales. Now, Dell makes another smart move with the acquisition of 3Par, the 10 year-old enterprise storage provider that was first to deliver thin provisioning within high-end storage arrays, as well as developing abstracted storage virtualization techniques that allow rapid changes in storage configuration and RAID protection without the need to backup, or restore active data. There should be no remaining doubt that Dell is extremely serious about its storage business

When Dell acquired EqualLogic, many in the storage industry saw it as a slight to EMC. In my opinion, it is hard to fathom how EMC will not see the acquisition of 3Par as another slight, even though the company may say otherwise publicly. In fact, it was back in May at EMC World where Joe Tucci informed a gathering of storage industry analysts that the relationship with Dell seemed to be "back on track," after a  bump in the road caused by the EqualLogic acquisition.  

Perhaps, even with firmware and hardware advancements within the CLARiiON product line, Dell does not see the line as being as advanced, utility-like and flexible enough for a high-end enterprise class storage offering for its enterprise and growing cloud-oriented total solutions offerings. From a storage products positioning perspective, Dell appears to have now covered their bases with EqualLogic for the low-end to mid-range and now 3Par for the medium-enterprise to high-end enterprise data center/cloud requirements.

Some industry insiders have previously expressed that a Dell purchase assured the death of the product and its technology. Many were quick to provide example after example of where Dell had fallen down in years past. Clearly, Dell did a 180 degree turn of post-acquisition strategy when it purchased EqualLogic and the storage division has blossomed since the acquisition. A source at EqualLogic who would prefer to remain anonymous told me that he believes the EqualLogic success was enabled, in part, to Dell management, "providing us the time and space to enhance our functionality and deliver a solid, well tested product."  

In speaking with a handful of EqualLogic customers over the past two weeks regarding purchase decisions for the VMware VDI space, these customers seem to echo the EqualLogic employee's view.  One customer, within the financial services industry, recently told me, "We are pleased with the new EqualLogic storage arrays and the quality seems to be a lot better now than years ago." Certainly this is not an endorsement for the product, but Dell is taking the right steps to provide a quality product for low-end and mid-range users who can benefit from SAN but were prohibited by the higher cost of Fibre Channel SANs.

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