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Dell Data Center Rollout Features Next-Gen Servers, Network Virtualization Architecture

Dell is introducing a new line of servers, storage hardware and a network virtualization architecture framework to meet the expanding demands on data centers to crunch petabytes of data. The company introduced the 12th generation of PowerEdge servers--seven models--some targeted at hyperscale environments, others optimized for server virtualization, and one intended for use in small or remote offices.

In touting the features of the new servers at an event in San Francisco, Dell CEO and chairman Michael Dell took a swipe at rival HP about 40 miles away in Palo Alto. He noted that HP introduced a new line of servers a few weeks ago that it said had 150 different innovations. But Dell said many of the innovations HP trumpeted were already in the 11th generation of Dell PowerEdge servers and some in series before that. Specifically, HP touted a feature called "embedded lifecycle management," but Dell said there are already 3.5 million Dell servers out there that have that feature.

"The pace of innovation is different for some companies than for others," he said during a three-hour-long presentation by various Dell executives, partners and customers at a site a few blocks away from the Moscone Center, where the annual RSA Conference 2012 is under way this week.

The new product introductions are intended to address the growing demands on networks to handle mountains of data. Dell cited industry research that more than half the servers shipped today are deployed as virtual servers, that by 2015 80% of the cloud environments deployed will be hybrids of private and public cloud resources, and that, also by 2015, server rack bandwidth capacity will have grown by a factor of 25-fold.

In addition to servers, Dell introduced two new storage arrays, the EqualLogic PS6110 for mid-sized deployment and PS4110 Series for smaller deployments. Dell acquired EqualLogic in 2007 and at Monday's event touted the investments it has made in storage from companies it has acquired in recent years, including storage hardware maker Compellent and Force 10 Networks in 2011. "We have doubled or tripled the amount of engineering investment in the acquired companies," said Carter George, director of Dell's storage strategy.

Also based on Force 10's storage technology is a storage virtualization development framework called Dell Virtual Network Architecture (VNA). "What virtualization was to servers VNA is to networks," said Dell's Arpit Joshipura, who was chief marketing officer for Force 10 Networks when it was acquired by Dell in August 2011. A number of companies have introduced products that they say can help virtualize networks. Nicira and Big Switch Networks have introduced network controllers that deliver what they call "software-defined networking (SDN)," but those controllers are just some of the components of a network infrastructure.

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