Dell hasn't said yet how it will bring the memory technology to market. Mattox said customers who buy a Dell server now will be able to upgrade to the memory-pooling technology when it's available, through new memory cards and a firmware update.
Dell also helps to differentiate itself by giving customers a bit more flexibility. If they don't like how a system is put together, Dell will provide a reference architecture that allows them to swap out Dell's storage or network components, for example. However, that will mean a service engagement or more work for the customer's IT department.
Despite working at HP for years, Haas was happy to take shots at his former employer. HP's products are "complex and costly," he charged, while Cisco's Unified Computing System is "inflexible and incomplete," in part because Cisco has to partner for its storage.
But Dell is later to market than both Cisco and HP, noted IDC analyst Jed Scaramella. It's heading in the right direction, however. Customers are starting to realize that virtualization alone isn't always enough to give them a more efficient data center, he said.
"For some of these complex environments like the private cloud, they need these purpose-built systems like HP and Oracle are offering," Scaramella said. And Dell is now getting into the game, too.
The Active Systems will be based on Dell's PowerEdge M1000e chassis and blade servers; Compellent or EqualLogic storage, including a new EqualLogic Blade Array; and a new I/O module called the PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator, which is designed to orchestrate all the I/O traffic to ensure maximum bandwidth.
The Active System 800 is for applications that need high performance and includes Force10 networking components, Dell said. It didn't give pricing for any of the products Thursday. The Active Systems will initially support hypervisors from Microsoft and VMware, said Andy Rhodes, executive director for virtualization and cloud solutions.