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Dell OEMs server management from Microsoft

Systems Center Essentials 2010, integrated and cheaper

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If you use Dell PowerEdge servers in conjunction with Microsoft's Windows operating system, Dell is going to make your life a little bit easier while also saving you some dough.

Like its peers in the x64 server racket, Dell has service processors and box management tools to manage its PowerEdge rack and tower servers and the blades in its PowerEdge blade chassis. But to get higher level management at the operating system or application level, Dell likes to partner, sometimes loosely, sometimes tightly with OEM deals, as it does with Egenera for PAN Manager and Microsoft for Systems Center. More recently, Dell has started to snap up management tool companies, such as KACE for PC lifecycle management or Scalent for physical and virtual server provisioning.

Microsoft released Systems Center Essentials 2010 to manufacturing at the end of April and it was generally available on June 1. The tool meshes its Windows system management console with the Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 plug-in for the Hyper-V hypervisor, giving system administrators a single console from which they can manage both physical and virtual servers. Before, you had to buy these tools separately and plug them together.

Because it wants tight integration between the Windows software stack and its PowerEdge servers, Dell has gone one step further and OEMed the SCE 2010 software from Microsoft. The server maker has worked with Microsoft to integrate its Windows management console with its own OpenManage tools, which include Pro Packs, Management Packs, and Update Catalogs.

The integration between OpenManage and SCE 2010 is available for customers who don't buy the Dell version, because, according to Enrico Bracalente, senior strategist for systems management product marketing at Dell's Enterprise Product Group, Dell is not trying to lock PowerEdge customers into its OEM version to get tighter integration. The OEM version is supported by Dell, not Microsoft, which gives SMB shops one throat to choke and one support bill instead of two (just like Dell front ends support for Windows Server licenses at SMBs).

And according to Bracalente, Dell's pricing "is a bit more aggressive than Microsoft's own pricing" for SCE 2010. Exactly how much, he did not want to say, but prices start at $5,000 from Dell for spanning 50 physical or virtual servers or up to 500 client devices. Microsoft charges $103 for the SCE 2010 management server, and $870 if you don't already have a license to the SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition database it requires. It costs $103 per server node and $17 per PC client on top of this. So we're talking about a 15 per cent discount for users, and probably some profits for Dell since it undoubtedly gets SCE 2010 at a much deeper discount from Microsoft as part of its OEM agreement.

The management server of the OEM version of SCE 2010 can run on PowerEdge servers spanning the 9G to 11G generations, and can control machines that go back as far as the 8G generation.

As far as Bracalente knows, Dell is the first and only server maker to offer an OEM version of SCE 2010. Dell had an OEM deal for the prior Systems Center 2007 tools, and Fujitsu had an OEM version that implemented parts of that earlier Microsoft management toolset. ®

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