Dell Expands Use of Egenera PAN Data Center Tool

Dell is bundling the Egenera PAN System software with its PowerEdge M610 blade server and M1000e chassis, two products that were rolled out in conjunction with the launch of Intel's Xeon 5500 series chips code-named Nehalem. The Egenera software lets administrators create a pool of computing, networking and storage resources within the data center that can be dynamically provisioned depending on demand. The PAN System gives Dell a weapon in its competition with rivals such as Cisco and HP to offer more complete solutions in increasingly virtualized data centers.

Dell is expanding the use of Egenera's infrastructure software to its new blade server and chassis announced March 30 in conjunction with Intel's launch of the "Nehalem EP" processor family.

Dell and Egenera in September 2008 announced a deal in which Dell would bundle Egenera's PAN System software in some of its PowerEdge servers.

In December, Dell said it was using the Egenera technology in its PowerEdge 1950 rack server, and in February expanded the use of what it called the Dell PAN System into the PowerEdge M600 blade server.

On March 31, the two companies announced that Dell is bundling PAN System in its new M610 blade server and M1000e chassis, both of which were unveiled a day earlier to coincide with Intel's release of the new Xeon 5500 series quad-core chips for two-socket servers.

Click here to check out Intel's new Xeon 5500 series chips.

Egenera's PAN System essentially abstracts server and network resources in the same way a SAN (storage area network) abstracts storage devices. The result is a virtual pool of computing resources-from processing to networking to storage-that can be dynamically provisioned and allocated depending on workload demands.

This gives IT administrators a flexible and agile data center environment that offers automatic high availability and reduces complexity, which is key for virtualized environments, particularly in light of the performance gains and virtualization capabilities offered in the new Intel chip architecture, said Ken Oestreich, vice president of product marketing for Egenera.

"It's important because next-generation hardware and chip sets ... are really optimized for very dense virtualized environments and high-performance environments," Oestreich said.

These are the environments into which Dell is selling its servers, he said.

Until 2008, Egenera had been offering its PAN System only with its own BladeFrame systems. However, officials last year saw the potential of Pan System-which has the open-source Xen virtualization hypervisor from Citrix Systems embedded inside-on industry-standard x86 servers, particularly as virtualization is becoming more mainstream and the concept of cloud computing is taking hold.

Having PAN System bundled in its PowerEdge servers also gives Dell another tool in the growing competition in the data center among such tech giants as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. All these vendors are looking to increase their reaches in the increasingly virtualized data centers.

Cisco March 16 unveiled its Unified Computing System data center strategy, which includes a mix of its traditional networking products, new blade servers powered by the Xeon 5500 series chips, and partnerships with such companies as VMware and EMC. HP also is trying to tie together systems and storage devices with its Virtual Connect networking products, and IBM could take another big step in that direction if it finalizes the rumored deal to buy Sun Microsystems.

Anthony Dina, director of strategy for Dell, said having the PAN System technology from Egenera gives Dell an advantage against HP and Cisco, which he said are trying to lock businesses into using only their technology.

Much of the data center push comes from the pressure on IT organizations to do more work, even as staffing and budgets are being slashed, Dina said. Administrators are looking for ways to simplify and consolidate their facilities in hopes of reducing operating expenses while still trying to ramp up performance to meet the demands on their data centers.