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If moving from Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange Server 2003 is on your agenda, then Dell has a bundle or two for you.

Dell has kicked off a large Exchange upgrade push by pairing its servers and storage gear along with new services. The program is an obvious attempt to cash in on Microsoft's decision to end Exchange Server 5.5 support at year end. There doesn't appear to be a huge price break with the bundles, but Dell reckons its services arm can make the Exchange upgrade easier.

Here's the requisite marketing-speak attached to Dell's announcement of the program.

"Dell's customized migration packages and available fixed-cost, fixed-scope services provide customers a cost and time-efficient Exchange migration path that ultimately improves business productivity and eliminates scalability and reliability concerns of running mission critical e-mail on older systems," said Linda York, a vice president at Dell.

The program targets customers having anywhere between 100 and 5,000 mailboxes. One bundle suggested by Dell for a company with 4,000 mailboxes includes two PowerEdge 2850 servers, a Dell/EMC CX300 storage array and, of course, Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Edition. A smaller company with just 150 users might pick up a single PowerEdge 2800 server, the low-end AX100 storage box and Windows Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition.

All of the pre-configured bundles include software training and three years of support. The packages start at $5,000.

Dell has worked to build out its services portfolio and to create larger pairings of servers and storage boxes. This strategy is an attempt to alter Dell's image from being just a box mover and to pull in larger sales and more revenue. In other words, Dell is trying to operate a bit more like IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems while still maintaining its low-cost shop image.

Dell is currently at a bit of a pricing disadvantage versus its rivals, especially where the SMB market is concerned. IBM, HP and Sun all have dual-core Opteron-based servers that take full advantage of Microsoft's decision to price software packages on a per-socket and not per-core basis. Dell has stuck with Intel and its Xeon processor, which won't arrive in dual-core form in volume until 2006.

The per-socket pricing won't be of much relevance to customers already locked in to large software licensing deals with Microsoft. Smaller customers, however, buying the occasional box can box can benefit. ®

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