Dell takes server load off customers

SINGAPORE--Dell Computer will soon extend a service, currently available for desktops and laptops, to include servers in a bid to ease the administrative burden for enterprises in the current resource-constraint climate.
Debuting in August, Dell ImageDirect Server will allow customers to create and store physical and virtual server images on the vendor's cloud, according to company executives. Customers can then have their new servers installed with the operating systems and applications as specified by the stored image, instead of performing systems provisioning following a purchase of "bare metal". Software validation and testing will also be a part of this new service.
"The idea behind this is to minimize on-site provisioning time, so that the IT people can now focus on innovation," Jacob Pereira, Dell's server business manager for Asia-Pacific and Japan, explained in a briefing here Wednesday. Companies, he noted, can save up to 45 percent of their IT staff's time spent on manual configuration.
Besides allowing businesses a high level of control over systems provisioning, whilst saving deployment resources, this new service also ensures companies use tested processes and legitimate software, Pereira also told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the briefing.
Across emerging markets today, including Asian economies such as Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, businesses face the challenge of installing software that are pirated or that are unsuitable for their systems, he noted. In addition, purchasing decisions are often driven by price, and in some cases, installations may not be in line with best practices, he said.
For example, a particular application that requires a two-socket server configuration may still run on a one-socket machine, but doing so carries potential risks for the customer, Pereira warned.
"By offering the service and validation, yet, giving customers the overall control, I think we have a great value proposition," he said.
Tan Teng Cheong, Dell's general manager for Singapore and Brunei, said Dell's approach also reduces margins for error. Unlike its competitors, which make use of resellers or distributors to carry out software installation work for customers that purchase new machines, Dell customers receive servers pre-installed with software that are tested, direct from factories.
The new service, added Tan, is an extension of capabilities currently available for desktops and laptops.
According to Pereira, ImageDirect Server also allows business to migrate from non-Dell systems. Server images are stripped of their brand-specific driver dependencies and kept in a raw format, before they are ported to Dell servers, he explained.
Customers can expect to pay about S$100 (US$65.74) per machine for software installation and testing services, but actual pricing will depend on the number of machines and server images implemented, he said. Customers will be able to create and store unlimited versions of server images in Dell's cloud, he added.
While the service is expected to benefit both large and small customers, Pereira said its adoption will come mainly from midsize businesses with expanded geographical coverage.
ImageDirect Server joins a slew of other new announcements under Dell's enterprise portfolio. First unveiled last week in the United States, the additions include blade servers, PowerEdge servers, EqualLogic storage arrays and Dell Management Console, which pulls together different systems management tools across IT environments.