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Project Hybrid: Dell's transformation begins

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Dell Rhetoric 2.0

With this announcement, you find a Dell that wants to recalculate its perception in the server marketplace.

Kettler talked about Dell's past where the company decided not to build its own silicon, decided against Itanium, decided against building 8-way boxes and decided against crafting its own middleware and operating system. Instead, Dell bet on one- to two-socket boxes and that bet paid off.

The x86 market, however, has matured to the point where simple box shifters look archaic, especially among the Tier 1 set. Customers face a wide variety of complex issues – most notably power consumption and virtualizaton – and need serious help through engineering.

Dell seems to take this rather seriously, as evidenced, if nothing else, by the press event in San Francisco. The hardware maker rarely holds such events, preferring to go about its business rather than patting itself on the back.

Just how different Dell really will be under Project Hybrid proves near impossible to discern given the amount of information doled out so far.

It's clear, however, that Dell wants to craft a message, products and services that differ from IBM and HP, at least on paper.

One concrete spot where this drift from IBM and HP has occurred is around the blade systems. Sure, Dell has prepped what looks an HP clone, but the company does not push the boxes at every turn. It presents blade as an option, while adding that one- to two-socket systems should remain as the mainstream systems for customers.

That's a practical message given the proprietary nature of the blades and, of course, one that serves the third place blade seller well. We give Dell credit for cutting back on the blade hype. Too many customers have been burned – sometimes literally – by the big vendor blade pitch.

It's encouraging to see a Dell that appears rejuvenated and ready to compete with ferocity once again. As many of you know, Dell lost some of its competitive luster during its bout with Opteron denial.

A vibrant Dell tends to translate into cheaper systems from IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems for customers.

We like that the company is thinking again and pushing on some key customer trouble spots. With any luck, the Project Hybrid gear will live up to its billing. ®

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