Dell's EqualLogic Buy Latest In String Of SMB Deals

Acquisition reflects large tech companies continued interest in expanding beyond the enterprise.

It's good to be a small to medium sized business these days if you're looking for more technology solutions. IBM, HP, Sun and Dell are all showing greater interest in SMBs, that had long been the domain of local integrators, helping them replace a back room of wires and white boxes with integrated blade systems and storage.

HP recently introduced a new blade server for the SMBs, the c3000, a.k.a. "Shorty." IBM today launched its counter to Shorty, called Blade Center S, Dell recently introduced an SMB storage solution of its own, the MD3000i and now Dell snapped up EqualLogic.

Dell's $1.4 billion purchase of EqualLogic is yet another step forward for big iron vendors showing some love to SMBs. Of course, it will benefit Dell, too. Mike Arterbury, director of storage operations in the Dell Product Group, said the EqualLogic buy will also help his company's SMB virtualization strategy.

"We have a well-discussed strategy toward IT simplification and expanding the server simplification play," he told "It is core and essential to our strategy and this acquisition plays right into the hands of that. EqualLogic is well adept at attaching to virtual environments and is partnered with VMware. So they have done interesting things in that environment."

More important, EqualLogic has an established sales channel, something Dell needs to compliment its direct sales business. "It will augment the way we go to market today. We hope to develop and exploit the channel and hopefully give it more Dell products to move through that channel," Arterbury said.

Analyst Joe Clabby of Clabby Analytics has noticed all the attention SMB's have been getting lately. "Now you have companies like IBM and Dell and HP making a big push into SMB, so suddenly you have all the lights coming on with everyone making a big push into SMB. That tells me that's where the companies think the growth is going to be," he said.

Dell has a long, established partnership with storage giant EMC, but those configurations are best suited for enterprise scale datacenters. EqualLogic's IP-based storage is more flexible in connecting to hypervisors and operating systems and moving with the virtual environments.

EMC's fibre channel storage connections are somewhat change averse, said Arterbury. "Fibre dwells in the physical realm and it's more labor intensive to move data around when you have it coupled to a server environment," he said.

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