The Consolidated server stack has been one of the big items over the last year using converged network adapters, blades, and integrated storage that is designed around providing an a single SKU to order and that provides enough resources for a set number of VMs. Currently the VCE coalition has the VBlock which combines VMware, Cisco, and EMC products into a single stack. HP has its Matrix stack. But where is IBM’s and Dell’s stacks. Could the acquisition of 3Par be the beginning of a integrated stack play from Dell?

3Par provides several features that are missing from Dell’s current storage line-up:

  • Utility Storage
  • Storage optimized for Virtualization
  • Storage Multi-tenancy

Both of these are required to make a stack play. Easy to use and configure storage as well as easy to manage for multiple-tenants is a requirement going forward. Combined with Dell’s Blades and other storage combinations, we could see the emergence of the Dell Stack.

Dell combines many components already, including some from EMC, however, if Dell is to produce a stack it should not include EMC as that is part of another stack and could impact both. Perhaps EMC would sell to either (VCE or Dell) customers like they do now. But having a Stack that does not use EMC storage would be a fairly interesting win.

It would also be interesting if Dell built a lower end stack, one that usable by small business with the growth to meet the medium and large enterprises. Dell could use 3Par to easily grow the storage along those lines by combining other arrays within a single 3Par virtual storage device.

If this is a stack play, will they aim for VMware, Hyper-V, or Xen/KVM as the virtualization player or remain vendor neutral? They do state that they are acquiring 3Par for Virtualization optimized storage, which really makes me think this is a stack play as well as an investment.

Visit http://content.dell.com/us/en/corp/d/secure/2010-08-16-ir-release.aspx for the full announcement.

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Edward Haletky (372 Posts)

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

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1 comment for “Dell’s Intention: Acquire 3Par. Is this a Stack Play?

  1. Mike
    August 17, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Ed,

    It is certainly a departure for Dell, but one that makes sense. The storage layer has historically been a higher-margin sale than the commodity server, and Dell has incentivised its salesmen to sell a lot of EMC hardware over the years. Ultimately it makes sense to pull in that higher-margin revenue directly. Also, as Dell re-orients itself around services, it makes sense to have a consolidated services offering around storage.

    On the question of the Hypervisor, in my dealings with Dell they were always open to a broad range of possibilities in building solutions, and took an interest in Hyper-V in particular from an early stage. I don’t think it is a major change in strategy, but you may find VMware featuring less in their solutions over time.

    One concern is that Dell has a very strong internal culture. It is actually a positive and supportive culture, but the company hasn’t done a lot of large acquisitions – Perot excepted. There will have to be a tight coupling between the 3Par and the Dell teams and it remains to be seen whether the company can deliver a seamless organization.

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