Dell Storage: Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee
It’s been 13 months since Dell officially metamorphosed from a storage reseller to an OEM, but almost five years since the announcement it was buying EqualLogic, and now the company is celebrating its 100,000th storage array shipment. Since 2008 Dell has added 41,000 customers (now 45,000) and 92,000 systems to its installed base, said Travis Vigil, executive director of Dell Storage.
Today (2Q12), IDC and Gartner have Dell among the top-six external controller-based disk storage vendors behind EMC, IBM, NetApp, HP and HDS, but in fourth place for total disk storage systems revenue at $924 million, half of market-leader EMC’s $1.823 billion. In 2003, the iSCSI SAN market was $18 million and today its worth $3 billion, of which Dell holds the lion’s share, 28%, and has for the last 18 quarters, said Vigil.
Picking up Compellent Technologies in February 2011 added another critical component to Dell’s growing storage portfolio. “Since the Compellent acquisition, we’ve increased the reach from 30 to 84 countries and added 2,500 customers,” he said.
What Dell’s been able to tap into, its selling proposition, is focusing on taking complexity out of storage, the data center, and IT in general, making it easier to use, said Vigil. According to a recent Dell-commissioned Forrester Research study, cost and complexity are critical pain points for storing and managing data. The vast majority of CIOs and storage administrators are looking for storage that’s easy to use, less complex and more automated, he said. “Ease of use and simplicity will be big factors in their next storage purchases.”
Two more studies show the average ROI for Dell Storage solutions is 397%, with an average payback period of six months from deployment (IDC), and EQ arrays have the lowest total cost of ownership over a five-year period, costing up to 47% less in smaller deployments and up to 55 percent less in larger deployments than comparable offerings (Enterprise Strategy Group).
“Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder; it’s hard to objectively measure ‘simplicity and ease of use’, said ESG’s Mark Peters, senior analyst. “Every vendor claims it of course….what I can say is that end-users consistently rate the EqualLogic interface and control as truly excellent, and the product as truly ‘a piece of cake’ to manage.”
Overall, he believes Dell is making enterprise inroads (it had to, after the divorce from EMC), although he adds that the precise practical delineation between ‘enterprise’ and ‘mid-range’ is becoming harder to pin-point. “Dell’s sheer size can make it ‘strategic’ but it has a way to go to be viewed in the same light as – for instance – EMC or NetApp. That said, what is allowing Dell to become a strategic storage vendor is the fact that it can play as a strategic IT systems vendor (a la IBM, HP, and Oracle for example). With the emphasis on convergence plays rights now, and ‘TaaS’ (“Things as a Service”) this plays to Dell continuing to improve its storage footing.”
The 100,000th EQ array was installed at Connexions4London (C4L), a UK-based solution provider operating more than 40 data centers that bought its first Dell array in January 2010. They appreciated that it can scale performance and capacity seamlessly and is easy to configure and install, said Vigil.