Busy Year For Dell in the Data Center

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With all of the attention IBM, HP and now Cisco get in the server market, the number three player in the server business sometimes gets overlooked. But Dell (DELL) has been quite active this year in both the enterprise server market and the evolving market for cloud-optimized servers and containers.

ServerWatch has a nice article about Dell, its market position, and an in-depth look at the 11th generation of servers.  The article details the entire PowerEdge line of servers, comparing target deployments, processors, operating systems, and pricing.

The Register discusses Dell’s “other server business” earlier this month by digging into the OEM Solutions Group at Dell. The Data Center Solutions (DCS) group within Dell is responsible for custom solutions sold to hyperscale data centers such as Yahoo, Amazon and Microsoft. The OEM Solutions group is apparently twice the size of DCS, according to Dell’s Rich Froehlich. Citing OEM deals such as medical equipment, kiosks, embedded controllers and various appliances, the OEM group has 1,300 customers in over 40 countries and leverages 6,000 engineers to work on design and six world-wide factories to deliver the finished goods. 

Dell won the Google search appliance deal and there was a “container system in the works” reported in May 2008.  That container data center was later confirmed to be used in the Microsoft Chicago container farm.

Tough server market
In tough economic times and and an even tougher server market, Dell has held its own.  Gartner reportedin September 2009 that second quarter worldwide server shipments dropped 28 percent year-on-year, while revenue fell 29.4 percentage points year-on-year.  Gartner lists IBM with a 32.5 percent share, HP at 28.9 percent and Dell with 13.3 percent of second quarter server revenue estimates.

For server vendor shipment estimates Gartner puts Dell second, with 23.9 percent, behind HP’s 31 percent. Data from IDC shows third quarter server sales taking a steep decline.  IDC market share numbers put Dell in third place as well with a 13.5% market share. Sun was listed in fourth but it was also noted that both IBM and Dell were taking market share away due to the prolonged delay in its takeover by Oracle.

Converged data center offering
Dell spent much of 2009 building partnerships and growing all facets of its business.  Partnerships were inked with Brocade and Juniper and in September Dell acquired Perot Systems for $3.9 billion. Recently Ross Perot Jr. joined the Dell Board of Directors. 

Dell also maintains 16 spots on the top500 list for November 2009.  Dell maintains a partnership with Cisco, but also does not see the value in their Unified Computing System.  Dell’s Praveen Asthana was quoted in The Register as saying that “there’s a difference between a proprietary stack and a reference architecture.  Our approach is to offer reference architectures, but we don’t restrict you to buying everything from Dell.”

Social networking saves the day
Slate’s The Big Money site had an article last week explaining how “How Dell Got Out of Hell”.  Dell has made great strides from former customer relations and support issues and now has been very active in social networking. The article explains how Dell has recorded $6.5 million of sales using Twitter, using more than 100 employees tweeting through 35 Twitter feeds. The LinkedIn page for a company is always interesting to read.  Dell’s shows that career paths for employees before, came from HP and IBM, and after, went to Microsoft and HP.  Dell employees are most connected to Equallogic, Microsoft, CSC and Oracle.

The server side of the business will have a little bit of that spotlight taken away though, as Dell is rumored to unveil an Android based tablet at CES and last month confirmed its smart phone plans.

About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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