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Dell Looks To iSCSI To Restore Former Luster

The merger of Dell's manufacturing know-how and EqualLogic's innovation were supposed to result in all sorts of storage goodies when Dell acquired the company late last year. Now, if the combined assets could just fix the rest of what's ailing Dell.
The merger of Dell's manufacturing know-how and EqualLogic's innovation were supposed to result in all sorts of storage goodies when Dell acquired the company late last year. Now, if the combined assets could just fix the rest of what's ailing Dell.We got to see the first fruits of that deal Monday -- a midrange iSCSI array -- which looks to be a perfectly adequate box but otherwise didn't set the storage world on fire.

EqualLogic's John Joseph said the new PS5000 represents "the first example of the economies of scale" that IT buyers can expect from the acquisitive Dell. Translation: This will be cheaper per terabyte than other stuff we sold you in the past. The PS5000 starts at $19,000 for 2 TB of capacity, compared with the $22,500 EqualLogic charged for the box's predecessor with only 1.75 TB. It's about a 30% savings in raw capacity alone.

Unfortunately, the new iSCSI box only minimally begins to answer how Dell's going to regain some momentum after some missteps, executive turnover, and a spending slowdown in perhaps the most volatile sector of IT spending, personal computers. Dell's three major challenges going forward, well stated here, can be summarized along these lines:

-- What's Dell's end-game for iSCSI development, beyond rebranding EqualLogic gear?

-- How will Dell balance its new storage division's lineup with the highly successful partnership it's had with EMC for the last several years?

-- How will Dell's direct salesforce avoid stepping on toes in the channel?

The company's eponymous chairman and CEO proclaimed "it's all good news," especially for EqualLogic's resellers, who get grandfathered into Dell's partner program under the same terms they had premerger.

Dell also seemed to hint that his company will rely on EMC more for Fibre Channel wares, and reminded the market that the partnership will expire in 2011. That's more than enough time to see if Dell's bets on iSCSI and any other interim acquisitions result in a return to richer days. If nothing else, Dell has started the long road back.

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