Dell does AF server consolidation

The Air Force-Pentagon Communications Agency (AFPCA) recently selected Dell Computer Corp. to help it consolidate hundreds of servers, according to the Michael Dell, chief executive officer of his namesake company.

AFPCA is consolidating on the company's PowerEdge servers, Dell said, speaking Aug. 27 at the Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC) in Montgomery, Ala.

Paul Maas, major account manager at Dell, said the contract — awarded in July and worth less than $1 million — calls for consolidating about 400 AFPCA servers down to about 100. He added that the PowerEdge servers were delivered to the Pentagon within seven days and were completely installed earlier this month.

"Now, they are ready to have the applications brought over," and that will be done during the next six months, Maas said, adding that Dell is working with the AFPCA on a "disaster recovery strategy" to help protect the high-level data flowing on the systems.

In a media roundtable following his keynote presentation at AFITC, Dell offered his views on a variety of topics, including trends in the federal marketplace and his company's expansion into new product areas, including switches and projectors.

Dell said server and storage consolidation requests and orders are coming in from "all over the government." He also said that server clustering for high-performance computing applications, including weather prediction, biotechnology and other planning and analysis is another growth area.

Thomas Buchsbaum, Dell's vice president for defense and intelligence systems, agreed and said that the company is doing some classified work with the Defense Department and intelligence communities on server clusters. He noted that signals processing is another area widely using that technology.

Dell said that although the server and storage business is still far more important than the company's fledgling offerings in switches and projectors or personal digital assistants, he uses data from the company's sale of non-Dell-branded products to identify "inefficiencies in the industry," and then tries to offer products in those areas at competitive prices.

One product that has been widely deployed within the military community is Dell's field deployable server solution, known as "LAN in the can," he said. That local-area network offering, which the company packs in a ruggedized case, costs a fraction of other vendors' rugged products and is performing well in the harsh conditions in Afghanistan, according to feedback the company has been getting at the AFITC, Dell said. He added that the company is working on a storage-area network version — "SAN in the can."

"We put our products through the paces in harsh environments that we never thought we needed," and with the thick sand and blazing heat in areas supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, "guys are coming back and telling us that our servers are holding up great," Dell said.

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