Cool tool makes SANs simple

By Alan Earls

Dell has a reputation for customer-enabling the purchases of desktop and laptop computers, and for offering aggressive pricing. The company is now trying hard to invade the storage world.

In fact, the firm just announced a number of new storage products including PowerVault SAN implementations: SAN hardware, software, service and support in optimized bundled configurations with prices starting at less than $45,000.

But it's not just price. Another helpful feature makes Dell particularly user friendly. Dell's Web site provides a free SAN configuration tool or "configurator" that can help potential customers hone in on how much storage they need and what configuration would be most cost effective. Working with Dell staff -- or on a wholly do-it-yourself basis -- the tool can even provide a detailed bill of materials for the Dell factory as well as full instructions for installing and setting up at the customer site.

"We have had this type of configurator available for about a year," explains Bruce Kornfeld, director of product marketing for PowerVault storage. "The goal was to simplify SANs," he adds. Kornfeld says the tools allow a user to craft a SAN configuration by dragging and dropping components to create a custom setup. Alternatively, users can start with preconfigured setups and then add or subtract components.

Although intended to encourage sales of Dell products,

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Kornfeld admits that the free configurator could be used to work through a range of storage scenarios. Users would then be free to take the setup to other vendors for "comparison shopping." However, he adds, "we think our products are very compelling."

Kornfeld says Dell is primarily targeting the small and mid-size market, workgroups, as well as distributed computing environments and large enterprises. According to Dell, the sizing information and algorithms have been developed using testing and performance data on PowerEdge and PowerVault products.

Additional resources:

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

This was first published in January 2001

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