Dell Expands Virtualization Offerings

The company wants to be an all-in-one virtualization shop.

Dell is adding to its virtualization portfolio by embedding Citrix XenServer into its hardware and expanding its services for customers investing in the technology.

Dell is looking to become an all-in-one virtualization shop.

The OEM is expanding its portfolio of virtualization options to include new PowerEdge servers with more memory to support virtual environments, additional services for customers and an agreement with Citrix Systems to embed its XenServer products within its systems.

By adding these various features and services, Rick Becker, vice president of software and services at Dell, said the company is looking to offer customers a better choice when it comes to virtualization technology and to fit an enterprise's needs, whether it's server consolidation or a massive infrastructure project.

"What Dell is offering is an opportunity for customers to move beyond simple server consolidation and into more advanced end-to-end use and all the benefits that come from that type of use," Becker said. "For our smaller customers, we see this as a way for them to add features like disaster recovery, high availability and dynamic provisioning into their infrastructure."

In addition to Citrix and its XenServer suite, Dell has a relationship with VMware and embeds its ESX 3i hypervisor with its PowerEdge line. Becker said the company already is evaluating and making plans for the upcoming Microsoft Windows Server 2008 that contains the company's Hyper-V virtualization technology.

To support these embedded hypervisors, Dell also is debuting two new systems-the PowerEdge R805, a two-socket server, and the R905, a four-socket server. The two systems support Advanced Micro Devices' dual- or quad-core Opteron processors and support up to 128GB of DDR2 SDRAM (double data rate 2 synchronous dynamic RAM).

Besides Dell, a number of other server vendors are turning toward the major virtualization vendors to offer new options with their x86 hardware as the hypervisor becomes an increasingly integral part of the IT infrastructure landscape. In March, Hewlett-Packard announced that it would also embed XenServer, which is only 366KB, into its ProLiant line.

In addition to offering XenServer within its PowerEdge systems as an option, Dell has integrated the virtualization technology with its own OpenManage management console, which allows administrators the option of managing both the physical and virtual environments.

"We want to offer customers a range of solutions spanning the basic use of virtualization, which is server consolidation, right up through enterprise offerings," said Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of virtualization and management for Citrix.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said virtualization is becoming more common in the data center and accepted as a technology that can help with either server consolidation or software development. The embedding of hypervisors from Citrix, VMware and Microsoft will also allow IT staffs to take the technology to the next level, which includes disaster recovery and on-demand compute capacity.

"I think what Dell is doing here is continuing the trickle-down effect of enterprise-class functionality into lower-end products," King said.

Dell officials also feel they have an advantage in the growing virtualization field with its acquisition of EqualLogic in 2007, which specializes in iSCSI storage arrays. One reason for the purchase is that Dell felt the industry has shifted to IP SANs (storage area networks), but officials also believe iSCSI works better with virtual environments since it allows for dynamic load balancing.

Finally, Dell is offering some additional services for businesses using virtualization. These offering include Virtualization Healthcheck, which reviews the production environments to check for additional optimization, and Expanded Virtualization Assessment, which assess different platforms, storage options for virtual environments and the power and cooling needed to run these environments.