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April 8, 2011

Dell ramps up data centre spend

Debuts virtualisation in a box

By Steve Evans

Dell plans to invest $1bn in data centres and other infrastructure over the next year, the company announced at an event in London.

It will build 10 new data centres across the world, although exact locations were not revealed. However, Eric Velfre, MD EMEA for commercial/large enterprise services, confirmed that a few would be opening in Europe. The new data centres will focus on public and private cloud services and managed IT services.

Dell said the new developments will help it offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, desktop virtualisation technology and IT outsourcing, a field Dell entered in a big way with its $3.9bn acquisition of Perot Systems in September 2009.

As part of the investment Dell will also open 12 Global Solution Centres this year, with another 10 to follow over the next 18 months. These centres will offer a pre-sales facility, where potential customers can check out the technology Dell has available and talk to "experts" to help them plan their IT budget spent, Dell said.

Rival HP announced something similar earlier this year; as part of its push to cloud computing the firm introduced Cloud Discovery Workshops, designed to educate C-level execs about one of technology’s hottest topics. IBM is also active in this space with its Cloud Computing Lab, part of its Hursley Innovation Centre.

At the London launch Dell also announced a number of new products. Top of the list was a virtualisation in a box product. Called vStart, it aims to remove the complexity associated with beginning a virtualisation journey, the firm claims. It is a pre-integrated rack of either 100 or 200 virtual machines. The package is designed and built for each customer’s needs and arrived pre-built and ready to go, the firm said.

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It uses Dell EqualLogic storage at the moment and will add Compellent technology at a later date, the company said. It currently supports VMware and Dell plans to add support for more hypervisors in the coming quarters.

One potential worry for customers using the 100 VM option – it only has one array, meaning if it fails the whole system goes down. Business continuity is also not installed as standard, the firm said.

Dell also announced another push in to the desktop virtualisation space. Dell Desktop Virtualisation Solutions (DDVS) is a pre-configured platform containing the hardware, software and services needed to run a virtualised desktop environment. It is based on open architecture and can support most end-user computing device, Dell said.

Finally the company also announced a new email and file archiving platform. It is also pre-configured and helps customers to address storage optimisation and compliance requirements, Dell reckons.

Dell vStart and the email and file archiving platform is initially only available in the US, with availability in parts of EMEA expected in Q2 this year. The desktop virtualisation platform is available now in the US and the rest of the world later this year.

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