Like most server makers, for a price, Dell Inc will install any operating system, any middleware, or any complete software stack on a server that you buy–so long as you are willing to pay for the software and for Dell technicians to do the installation.
But to speed up the adoption of a new technology, or to meet the demand for it, it is often just easier to prebundle it back at the factory and support it through a single vendor.
And that is what Dell did this week for the Oracle 10g database running on Windows and for the ESX Server virtual partitioning software from the VMware subsidiary of disk array maker EMC Corp.
On the Oracle front, Dell has been able to negotiate an exclusive prebundling agreement for the entry Oracle 10g Standard Edition One implementation of Oracle’s latest relational database. 10g Standard Edition One is the relatively inexpensive variant of the 10g database that runs on uniprocessor or two-way servers and which costs $4,995 per processor. (Oracle 10g Standard Edition, which runs on four-way servers, and Enterprise Edition, which runs on larger machines, cost $15,000 and $40,000 per processor, respectively.)
The bundling agreement is part of a broader partnership that Oracle and Dell initiated two years ago as they decided that it was better to cluster two-way and four-way servers than try to sell big SMP boxes. Because Dell doesn’t have big SMP boxes–and has no intention of creating them now that database clustering technologies have matured–this strategy makes sense and is a necessity for Dell. But while Oracle talks about scale out architectures, it still gets the bulk of its sales and profits on big scale up SMP machines, and it is very eager to sell Enterprise Edition on such machines. Make no mistake about that. Oracle can and does sell on both sides of that street.
Under the deal the two companies announced yesterday, Dell will begin bundling Oracle 10g Standard Edition One on its PowerEdge 2850 rack-mounted servers immediately and will extend the bundling to the 2800 tower servers starting in the fourth quarter. These Dell servers use Intel’s 64-bit Xeon chips (with current speeds of up to 3.6GHz) and support up to 8GB of main memory each. The odds favor Dell offering a similar deal on 10g Standard Edition and the future Potomac 64-bit Xeon MPs when they become available early next year. The entry server bundles from Dell will also include the company’s PowerVault 220S external SCSI disk arrays. The servers will run Microsoft Corp’s Windows Server 2003 operating system. This offering is an alternative to the Oracle bundles on PowerEdge servers that Dell offers on Red Hat Inc’s Linux platform.
Dell also announced yesterday that it would be pushing VMware’s ESX Server virtualization product on its PowerEdge 1850 (1U) and 2850 (2U) Xeon-64 servers. While Dell has had a partnership with VMware for quite some time to sell its GSX Server and ESX Server, this offering goes a little bit further in that Dell is selling pretested systems (but not preconfigured) that have been certified to run specific VMware virtualization software and offering front-line technical support for the whole shebang. Dell is only offering ESX Server as part of this deal, which is the low-level virtualization software from VMware that has the best isolation between virtual machines, in that it runs on the bare metal server, not within another operating system that could, in theory, fail and take down all of the virtual machines. Dell is selling ESX Server 2.1.2, which has been tweaked to support the 64-bit Nocona Xeon processors, as well as VMware’s Virtual Center Management Server. Dell is also supporting the CX300 and CX500 SAN arrays that it makes in conjunction with EMC. Dell pricing for ESX Server starts at $4,688 for these two PowerEdge servers, including Dell support, which is backed by VMware’s Platinum support. Dell is also supporting the Virtual SMP features of ESX Server (which allow a single virtual machine to span across two physical processors) and VMotion technology, which allows the workload running inside one virtual machine on one physical machine to be transported across the network to another partition on another machine. This offer is available in the United States and Europe.
Dell is not, by the way, offering pretested GSX Server configurations on these machines, although GSX Server will work on it. GSX Server allows multiple virtual machines to run inside a host operating system.