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Dell goes for gold at the virtualization Olympics

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Dell is giving its servers sex appeal - six-core processor, better switches and three times more storage as it pushes really, really, really hard, and goes for gold in the server virtualization Olympics.

In a tight announcement, it revealed all-new storage, blade and rack servers, Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches, consulting services and virtual liaisons with Microsoft's Hyper-V and Citrix Xen Server. When Dell ticks the boxes it does so with a great big thump and a flurry of superlatives.

A new M805 2-socket quad-core Opteron blade offers the same memory as competitors - meaning HP and IBM - 4-socket blades. The M905 is the 4-socket version with more memory than either HP or IBM blades. But these are just starters. The 4-socket, rack-mount R900 server uses Intel's Dunnington chip with six cores, what we might call a sexed up chip. This server also has embedded hypervisors and has been built to run scads of virtual machines.

Dell says it is an electricity miser compared to 4-socket HP and IBM products.

The new EqualLogic PS5500E triples the memory capacity of the current PS5000E. Instead of having four enclosures with 16 drives in them it can have 12 enclosures (4U) with 48 drives - up to 48TB per enclosure and a total capacity of 576TB. It offers three times the capacity of the existing PS5000 for twice the price.>

The recent Clariion CX4-480, also sold by Dell, can support up to 480 drives. The CX4-960 goes up to 960 drives, comfortably surpassing the PS5500E. These CX4s arrays are positioned for FC SAN and high-end iSCSI storage. There is some way for the PS5000s to go before they exceed CX4 iSCSI capacity.

Dell has bought out new switches to connect these servers to networks. There is a modular 8-port 10gigE switch (M8024), supporting multiple interface types, and an 8-port Fibre Channel switch courtesy of Brocade (M5024). The 10GigE switch is the first such to have 8 external ports and is a natural choice for linking the new servers to the EqualLogic iSCSI storage.

Dell says its storage can thinly-provision apps running in a Citrix Xenserver environment, doling out the storage actually needed for written data rather than supplying the full allocation up front with lots of spinning but empty disks. The PS storage is also integrated with VMware Virtual Centre and Xenserver for snapshots. There is expanded management support for VMware, Hyper-V and Xenserver.

Michael Dell this week bought $100m of Dell stock. He and his company are on a tightly-scripted, hard-driving mission to become the best virtualized server hardware and storage provider, a one-stop, virtualized server and storage shop. You need switches? We got switches. You need management? We got management. You need services? We got consultants. Whatever you need we got. It's all Dellishly impressive. ®

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