Dell enters enterprise storage market

Dell enters enterprise storage market

Zachary Shess

With its recent introduction of the PowerVault line of server-attached storage systems, Dell Computer has entered the enterprise storage market promising complete Fibre Channel connectivity and lower prices. The PowerVault 650F is the first product resulting from an OEM agreement with Data General`s Clariion division. Dell expects to begin volume shipments later this month.

While Dell officials acknowledge that PowerVault`s performance and redundant RAID controllers, for example, may not revolutionize the industry, they believe its all-Fibre characteristics and low prices will. "The differentiation for Dell is that we`re bringing enterprise-level solutions to the NT space where storage systems have typically been very expensive," says Bruce Kornfeld, manager of storage product marketing at Dell.

Using Fibre Channel drives in the PowerVault line is an advantage over competitors, say Dell officials. Lofgren agrees. "Compaq basically has its Fibre Channel storage system in the form of a host interface, using SCSI drives on the back end. Offering Fibre Channel drives is a clear differentiator for Dell from a marketing perspective."

The PowerVault 650F can be configured with up to 120 Fibre Channel disk drives for more than 2TB of capacity per array. A single Dell server can access up to three PowerVaults, providing more than 6TB.

Storage-to-server connectivity is provided in part by QLogic`s QLA2100 Fibre Channel host bus adapters. The QLA2100 is based on QLogic`s 64-bit, 33MHz ISP2100 PCI-to-Fibre Channel chip with internal transceivers.

Dell has not released specific configuration prices, but an entry-level PowerVault starts at $15,000 and ranges to more than $100,000. Dell`s Kornfeld estimates that the array will fall between 20 cents and 30 cents per MB. The industry average is about 30 cents to 35 cents per MB.

Giga`s Lofgren expects Dell`s prices to be competitive. "However, I`m not sure you`re going to see any major reaction from other storage vendors because the price of storage is always coming down," he adds.

Dell will offer support for PowerVault through its alliances with Clariion, Unisys, and Wang Global.

This article was originally published on September 01, 1998