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Dell: 'We'll clobber pricey NetApp with new iSCSI kit'

'We didn't say that'

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Dell has been rumbling about "changing the economics" of data center storage for months, but little has slipped out, until now, in terms of a method for such madness.

Many scratched their heads in May when Dell unfurled the Project Hybrid banner, declared it would reduce the cost and complexity of servers and storage; and then sent reporters on their way. But as game-time approaches, Dell's machinations are coming to light. Slowly, shrewdly, Dell is giving us a glimpse at their roadmap. Just a peek, mind you.

Dell storage marketing chief Praveen Asthana boils down the data center team motto into three words; simple, capable and affordable. But between the lines we can't help but hear:

You're next, NetApp.

All signs point to Dell rallying for an aggressive push at the SMB market with cheap, all-in-one storage devices. And Asthana says iSCSI and virtualization will be Dell's headliners.

When VMware late last year announced that it would support iSCSI, the tides were turned for the Fibre vs. iSCSI debate. Asthana thinks server virtualization has become the killer app for iSCSI storage — providing the advantages of a virtual network without the cost and guru-level expertise tied to Fibre Channel.

It fits into Dell's formula for success; cheap and available. And it's a worthy pitch to IT departments with restricted budgets and limited storage savvy admins.

"At the entry-level NAS space, look at what the competitors are doing," said Asthana, during an interview. "They are charging an enormous amount of money for proprietary storage. NetApp will give you snapshot software for free, but charge you if you want to recover (the data). That's the kind of thing we want to avoid by making things simple for our customers."

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