Dell Launches New SMB Server and NAS Options

As part of its ongoing focus on providing enterprise-class technologies to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), Dell Thursday rolled out two servers as well as a pair of storage solutions meant to meet rigorous customer demands.

In addition, Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) is also emphasizing two new, energy-efficient PowerConnect switch families that the company says are appropriate for SMB use.

The move is part of a continuing strategy by the Round Rock, Texas computer products maker to make its enterprise-class products more competitive among SMBs.

“The emphasis on the server, storage, and networking as an [integrated offering] makes sense,” Justin Jaffe, senior analyst at researcher IDC, told

For one thing, it helps keep Dell in the running with HP (NYSE: HPQ).

“I think the unified approach is a good one that’s going to be appealing to SMBs,” Jaffe added.

On Dell’s list of SMB-oriented products are an entry-level server dubbed the PowerEdge T110 II and a mid-level offering, the PowerEdge R210 II, the company said in a statement.

Cost- and energy-conscious companies have the option to out fit the two PowerEdge servers with Intel’s new, energy efficient Xeon E3-1200 CPUs, which are optimized for use in SMB servers, as well as with Intel Core i3-2100 CPUs, or with Intel Pentium processors.

“Clearly, energy costs are not going to go down any time soon,” Tony Parkinson, director of SMB for Dell, told

Pricing for the entry-level PowerEdge T110 II server starts at $625, while the R210 II starts at $925, the company said.

To some extent, the latest announcements are a reaction to HP’s SMB initiative launched last September, according to Kiyomi Yamada, principal analyst in the datacenter system group at researcher Gartner.

“They’re responding to HP’s initiative for MicroServers,” Yamada told

Dell also announced two storage offerings for SMB customers. First up, Dell’s new PowerVault NX3500 is designed to provide high-capacity NAS (network attached storage) capabilities for “smaller scale, high-availability deployments,” according to Dell.

The NX3500 features the Dell Scalable File System, a Linux-based system that was part of last year’s Dell acquisition of Exanet, Parkinson said. It can be used with PowerVault MD32x0i and MD36x0i storage arrays via iSCSI, CIFS, and NFS for access to block and file data.

A company release characterizes the Dell Scalable Files System as a “distributed file system that presents a storage pool as a single file system with a single IP address to the client(s).”

In addition, Dell is shipping the PowerVault MD3600i Ethernet-based storage system, a 10 Gbps device designed to provide exceptionally large amounts of storage for SMBs while retaining performance.

“Storage, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, is more important than ever [because] data is growing at exponential rates,” Parkinson said. “We’ve found small businesses, in particular, are struggling with data management more so than their larger counterparts as they lack the IT infrastructure to manage ‘storage sprawl’,” he added.

Dell’s MD3600i storage device starts at $11,353, while the NX3500 starts at $15,620.

To complement the new server and storage options, Dell also hailed its recently-introduced PowerConnect 7000 and PowerConnect 5500 families of energy efficient Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switches.

For example, the PowerConnect 7000 family supports 24 or 48 GbE ports in a single unit rack mount and provides a total switching capacity of as much as 224 Gbps, according to a Dell statement.

Dell’s PowerConnect 5500 series switches start at $1,297, while the series 7000 begins at $3,704.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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