Dell to Compete With Cisco, IBM, Others in Content Delivery

The Dell Deliver platform will be based on server, storage and networking technologies from the company, and leverage content delivery offerings from EdgeCast and Elemental.

Dell is stepping into the competitive content delivery space with a solution built upon its servers, storage and networking products, and leveraging software from EdgeCast Networks and Elemental Technologies.

The Dell Deliver content delivery platform, announced April 11, provides network providers with a low-cost, more efficient way to sell content delivery network (CDN) services to enterprises and deliver video content to any device, a key capability given the skyrocketing adoption of such devices as smartphones and tablets.

Telecommunications carriers are getting squeezed by the proliferation of devices hitting their networks and the growing demand for high-definition content, particularly IP-based, bandwidth-hogging video, according to Chad Andrews, strategist for Dell€™s Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment group.

€œIt€™s really bringing the networks to the point of breaking,€ Andrews told eWEEK.

The infrastructures run by carriers were not built to handle the demands for rich media they are facing today, and the network operators are looking for solutions that are scalable, efficient and cost-effective, he said.

EdgeCast President James Segil said his company has seen the problem grow as it has dealt with its 4,000 or so customers.

€œThis carrier problem is something that needs to be solved,€ Segil said in an interview with eWEEK.

Andrews said Dell Deliver is an open framework that uses as its foundation the vendor€™s PowerEdge 12th-generation servers (powered by Intel processors and highly parallel Nvidia graphics cards), Force 10 networking technology and tight integration with tiered storage. Dell also brings its provisioning, administration and management tools. On top of that are EdgeCast€™s CDN and Elemental€™s video processing solutions for multiscreen content delivery.

The solution offers a central management portal that users can leverage to deploy and monitor their content delivery network, self-provisioning tools, global load-balancing capabilities to enable administrators to control resources, and automated analytics to give network operators a clear view of what content is most popular and store that content where it€™s being used, which Dell officials said lessens traffic between delivery nodes.

The solution can be sold as an on-premise offering or managed service, Andrews said.

Dell Deliver also will put Dell and its partners into competition with the likes of Cisco Systems, Alcatel-Lucent, IBM and Ericsson, all of whom are creating their own content delivery platforms, according to EdgeCast€™s Segil. He argued that most of the other solutions are more proprietary and less open than the Dell offering.

€œEveryone is basically coming [into the market] from a different space,€ he said.

Andrews said Dell Deliver is the company€™s first step into the CDN space, and deals with the most immediate pain point facing network operators. But Dell views content delivery as a key commercial vertical for the company going forward, and is working on other solutions for the space that will roll out later in the year.

Carriers will continue looking for ways to better handle the rapidly growing amount of IP-based network traffic. According to Cisco€™s Visual Networking Index Forecast released last year, by 2015, there will be almost 15 billion network-connected devices€”from smartphones and tablets to notebooks and appliances€”and more than 3 billion Internet users. Cisco executives have said they expect that within the next few years, more than 90 percent of all traffic will be video.

Segil said partnering with Dell made sense for EdgeCast, a company founded in 2006 that competes with the likes of Akamai Technologies and Limelight Networks. When executives visit the data centers of customers, they€™re filled with systems running x86 chips from Intel, and many times those servers were Dell machines. Through the partnership, EdgeCast will be able to expand its reach and take advantage of Dell€™s large presence in the industry, he said.

EdgeCast not only runs its own global CDN, its software division also builds and manages third-party CDNs on telecom carrier networks and private CDNs for large content companies.

Dell will demonstrate the new solution at the NAB 2012 show in Las Vegas next week.