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EqualLogic Blade Array Makes Splash at Dell Storage Forum

BOSTON--The first day of Dell Storage Forum included a number of announcements, of course, but it was the EqualLogic Blade Array that drew the biggest round of applause from customers and partners, and is expected to make the biggest impact on the market.

Based on the company's 4U PowerEdge M1000e blade chassis, the PS-M4110 blade array (or "data-center-in-a-box solution," as Dell dubs it) combines a full-featured EqualLogic storage array, PowerEdge blade servers, and Force10 or PowerConnect networking switches. Expected to ship before November, the EqualLogic blade array includes the first quarter-height server blade, the first 40 Gbit Ethernet blade switch, the first enterprise-class blade storage and integrated management.

Targeted at virtualized environments, data center infrastructure convergence, and small and midsize business storage needs, the blades can be configured in less than an hour and store up to 14 Tbytes of data per array, up to 28 Tbytes per group and up to 56 Tbytes with two groups inside one blade chassis. Dell said it takes up one-third the space of competitive converged infrastructure architectures, and customers can support up to 48% more Microsoft SQL, Exchange and SharePoint users and up to 42 more users per watt of power.

"Putting the EqualLogic storage software on a standard blade is a big deal and will spur further responses from other vendors," says Randy Kerns, an analyst at Evaluator Group. The ability to "scale out" with the EqualLogic platform for block storage is relatively unique, and doing it with blades makes it easier and more economical, he says. "I expect to see more competition in this area in the future. The simplicity and cost advantages are too great to ignore."

Dell was third in server revenue for the first quarter, according to IDC, with 15.6% of the market, behind first-place HP (29.3%) and second-place IBM (27.3%). But while overall server revenue declined 2.4% year over year to $11.8 billion, blade servers grew 7.3%, to $2 billion, with HP (46.1%), IBM (18.9%) and Cisco (12.8%) leading the market. Dell came in fourth, with 8.7%. IDC says several vendors announced converged blade systems that integrate server, storage and network capabilities, and expects them to enter the market this quarter.

Dell also announced EqualLogic software enhancements--Array Software 6.0, SAN Headquarters 2.5 and Host Integration Tools for Microsoft 4.5--along with vStart 1000 for Dell Private Cloud, which combines Compellent storage and Force10 networking. Also new is the Dell Data Migration service to help companies transition to the new blade arrays and storage. The software and vStart will be available later this year, while the services are available today.