Dell’s Chad Fenner Highlights The Changeable Life of Servers

[entity display=”Dell” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”dell” natural_id=”fred/company/1260″]Dell[/entity] have made plenty of server announcements at this year’s DellWorld conference. It’s a major part of the business, and it’s interesting to see where [entity display=”Dell” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”dell” natural_id=”fred/company/1260″]Dell[/entity] is moving their fleet of options to match customer demand.

A few weeks ago I caught up with Chad Fenner, Director of Server Product [entity display=”Management” type=”section” active=”false” key=”/management” natural_id=”channel_4section_29″]Management[/entity] at [entity display=”Dell” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”dell” natural_id=”fred/company/1260″]Dell[/entity] to talk about what customers are doing with servers in an era of cloud and hyper-converged options.

“There’s a trend to more converged solutions,” says Fenner. “The VRTX product line is more for ROBO [Remote Office/Branch Office] or all-in-one deployments, but the FX2 line is more broad.”

He says the challenges come from people who didn’t go to blades. “Customers like rack servers because you can buy in small bites.” Fenner cites the R610 product as a prime example. Instead of spending a bunch of money up front to buy the blade chassis and all the setup costs associated with it (rack space, power, cabling, etc.) and then gradually filling it with blades, many customers prefer to buy rack servers even if blade servers might have been cheaper overall.

“People would buy a hundred of them [rack servers],” he said. “They would have been better off buying blades, but that didn’t work for their budget cycles because of the way things are structured with finance.”

I’ve seen first hand how finance departments have struggled with allocating shared capital expenses in a project driven environment, despite the presence of an IT shared services division. It highlights that some of the challenges for enterprise IT are not ones of technology, or even the technology staff, but how the business of running IT is organised.

Providing internal IT services in a service provider model, like cloud providers do, requires much more than building a self-service portal for ordering the services. There also has to be financial processing that aligns with the ordering and delivery processes.

Another interesting point raised by Fenner is how organisations re-purpose equipment. “Over time, people drastically change the way things are implemented,” he says. “A server that was originally purchased to run Exchange will be re-purposed to run SQLServer.” And we’ve all worked in organisations that move old production gear into a lab or test/dev environment, sometimes even as part of a deliberate process.

There is still plenty of life left in the server market, even as it morphs into something with a different label, like hyper-converged or server-SAN.

This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.

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