Dell storage consultants can now offer a File System Assessment Service (FSAS) on heterogeneous disk storage. It helps to round out Dell's storage offerings.

By using FSAS customers can obtain detailed information about each server, volume, and file in their storage networks. No installations of server agents are required. The service is based upon EMC's VisualSRM storage resource management software. Dell's consultants can identify and report capacity utilisation, file age distribution, space consumption by file types, file last access, and modification time, and provide a report that helps companies make decisions about their storage infrastructure and the changes needed.

David Marmonti, Dell EMEA president and SVP, said that Dell's relationship with EMC: "equips us to provide an advanced level of consulting support to our customers and help them address the growing data management, compliance and regulatory challenges they face.”

Dell has spent money to educate and certify its growing team of Storage Solution Architects through the EMC Proven Professional Certification Programme.

One note; Dell says it is a 'file system' assessment service. That seems to preclude it including storage area network (SAN) storage in its scope.

The winds of change

Dell is steadily changing and moving away from being the world's biggest direct, build-to-order, box-shifter. It has decided to offer Dell PCs at Wal-Mart stores across the USA. If this is successful then it will probably spread around the globe and the UK's Wal-Mart subsidiary, Asda, might sell Dell PCs as well.

Through an internal initiative known as Project Hybrid Dell is layering services onto its supply of PC and server HW + SW. FSAS is an aspect of that. Dell is recognising that customers these days are finding IT life so much harder that they need services to help make sense of it all. It's no longer enough to ship the best value boxes. You have to be able to tell customers which boxes to buy and help them fit them into existing IT infrastructures in ways that suit individual customers.

It's solution selling of course.

Greening Dell

Dell is turning green before our eyes. A press release in January announced: "Michael Dell has announced a global carbon-neutral initiative that plants trees for customers to offset the carbon impact of electricity required to power their systems. The first of its kind programme, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show here, underscores Dell's commitment to continued broad environmental stewardship."

Naturally, consolidated networked storage will help customers become greener, as will storage virtualisation, ditto blade servers (aka server consolidation) and server virtualisation. Distributed PCs may be addressed also with a Dell thin-client programme. In fact, Dell US already has started down that road under the guise of remote access.

This involves Dell has teaming up with Ardence to deliver the Ardence Dell SmartClient product set. The Dell SmartClient is a diskless Dell Precision workstation or an OptiPlex desktop with Ardence software that delivers both the operating systems and applications on-demand from networked Dell servers to the desktop. It's not a proper thin client yet but that might come.

It's seems obvious that replacing distributed PCs with thin clients will enable customers to have a much more power-efficient IT infrastructure. It also means sales of cheap thin clients replacing sales of more expensive PCs. That will be a challenge for Dell's profit managers.

If they can see their way through this tricky-looking optimisation problem we may well see a Dell desktop assessment service to complement the new File System Assessment Service.