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Dell Introduces SAN Strategy, NT-based Solution

Dell Computer Corp. (www.dell.com) today joined the growing list of server, storage and software vendors laying out their strategies for storage area networks (SAN).

In explaining the reason for Dell’s roadmap coming weeks or months after ones from Compaq Computer Corp. and others, Dell officials noted that they wanted to be shipping solutions at the time of their announcement rather than introducing products months or years away.

"Probably the key difference between what we’re announcing and what our competitors have announced is we can deliver this today," says Michael Lambert, senior vice president of Dell’s enterprise systems group, at a news conference and demonstration in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Dell demonstrated a SAN linking four Windows NT servers to a centralized storage pool using Fibre Channel, a fabric of redundant switches and a tape library. Dell officials say the solution has been shipping for two weeks.

Lambert says Dell’s SAN initiative has been in progress for 18 months. "The first step was to do some pilot implementations. The second step was to open it up to four servers. The next step is to double that or triple that. You shouldn’t look at four as being the limit," he said. "There’s no reason that can’t be eight or 16."

Dell entered the storage market only recently. Last year, Dell introduced its PowerVault 650F storage subsystem, the SCSI-based PowerVault200S, the PowerVault 130T tape library and a RAID controller.

Three business directives drove Dell’s SAN solution, according to officials of the Texas-based company: the desire to remove storage from the server, the move to fibre channel and a need for an end-to-end solution backed through services from a single vendor.

Dell’s strategy moving forward calls for continuing to use switched fabric networks rather than hubs to eliminate single points of failure and integrating tape drives into the solution at an attractive price for Windows NT customers.

A major partner is Microsoft Corp. Dell worked with Microsoft to develop Open Manage Storage Consolidation Software that allows the servers to share the storage without conflict. The demonstration involved an Exchange server, SQL Server, IIS and a file server all connected to nearly a terabyte of pooled storage.

Other partners at the announcement were Brocade Communications, Clariion, Computer Associates, Crossroads, Legato, QLogic, Seagate Software, StorageTek, Tivoli Systems and Veritas. -- Scott Bekker, Staff Reporter

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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