NOTE: Originally posted 19th August 2010 but temporarily removed. Obviously since I wrote this, HP have come along and trumped Dell in their bid for 3PAR…
Earlier this week Dell wrecked my day when they announced their intention to acquire 3PAR, the company that – in my personal opinion – has the best storage array architecture on the market.
Why did this wreck my day?
Personally I felt that 3PAR, and their top-notch architecture, deserved somebody better than Dell – no offence Dell. Let’s face it though, Dell isn’t exactly synonymous with great enterprise storage… If Id had my pick, I would have preferred HP pick up 3PAR. But hey, life goes on.
Best of Breed
However, now that I've had a chance to think, I’ve made an about-turn and changed my opinion. Here’s why –
Dell already have a quality iSCSI array in guise of the Dell EqualLogic line, and I think that iSCSI has a great future in the SMB space. Big tick in that box for Dell.
Now they have a best of breed FC block storage array that can compete with the Symmetrix and USP gorillas of the storage world! And let’s face it, while it might not be growing at a huge pace, block storage shows no signs of going away in the enterprise space. And even if FCoE eventually gets its act together and gobbles up the FC market, the 3PAR technology will adapt to that as easily as any other FC block storage array out there. So, big tick in the Enterprise storage box for Dell too.
In fact, Dell now look better positioned than HP at the high end. HP currently still OEM the Hitachi enterprise line of products in the enterprise block storage space. These days companies are scrambling to own the stack, and Dell owning the 3PAR technology looks better than HP OEM’ing the Hitachi technology – emphasis on “owning”.
Let’s also remember that a few weeks ago Dell announced their intention to acquire Ocarina Networks. I’ve been to Ocarina HQ, talked with some of their guys and know a little about their technology. Smarts like those provided by the likes of Ocarina that allow for compression, de-dupe and other means of storing our data more efficiently have a great future in my opinion. If Dell are able to integrate the Ocarina IP into the EqualLogic and 3PAR lines then they will have a really compelling story. So that’s another big tick in the box for Dell.
With the above in mind, the Dell storage portfolio looks to be at serious risk of becoming synonymous with “Best of Breed”. Surely not! :-S
With so many ticks in boxes, what is still missing for Dell?
Well, a line-up that includes a top-notch block array (3PAR), a top-notch iSCSI array (EqualLogic) and some top-notch storage optimisation technologies (Ocarina) deserves a top-notch NAS device.
I’m not convinced that Exanet fits the top “top-notch” moniker in today’s ultra-cometetive scale-out NAS world
Looking at what is potentially available on the market, Isilon Systems must be in the potential line of fire. They recently became a Billion dollar company so they won’t be cheap, but heck, you get what you pay for right!
I remember hearing rumours that HP’s first choice scale-out NAS acquisition might have been Isilon when they went shopping for scale-out NAS and ended up buying IBRIX. So, what better way to land a heavy kick to the cahoonas of one of your most fierce rivals than to go out and land something they supposedly weren’t able to land. Of course I am only speculating that HP would have preferred to buy Isilon! Let me just add that I personally like the looks of IBRIX, or the X9000 range as HP now call it.
Anyway, adding Isilon to the Dell storage portfolio would pretty much give Dell a store line-up to be reckoned with. Granted, a million miles away from being integrated with each other, but nonetheless really cool and compelling technologies.
Without any doubt though, if Dell are to complete the acquisition of 3PAR and then went on to pick up someone like Isilon, then we would be waking up to a world with a new storage superpower called “Dell”.
All that would then remain in order to truly compete with the likes of Cisco, HP and IBM would be a networking platform – may be something innovative and different like Xsigo might be in order?
Oh and of course they would need to go out there and invest in acquiring a decent server platform 😛
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