Dell Sets Up SAN Testing Lab

Dell Computer Corp. this week said it's teaming up with storage systems vendor Imation Corp. to set up a performance and interoperability testing lab for use by Dell customers who are installing storage-area networks (SAN) at their companies.

The lab is one of a burgeoning number of such sites created by SAN manufacturers during the past two years, but it's the first of its kind for Round Rock, Texas-based Dell. The deal with Oakdale, Minnesota-based Imation was disclosed almost simultaneously with an announcement of new systems and services aimed at broadening Dell's appeal as an enterprise-level vendor.

According to analysts, SAN labs serve a dual purpose: They act as a showcase for users looking to buy and configure a storage network, and they serve as a proving ground for testing storage interoperability between the different servers that most companies use to run their corporate applications.

"Almost every major storage company, and several independents, have set up these testing centers for both [network-attached storage devices] and SANs," said Joe Butt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

Dell's shared facility with Imation was scheduled to open today and is located within a SAN testing lab that the latter company opened at its headquarters site last June. For Dell, the deal with Imation meant being able to set up a fully operational lab in 90 days, half the time it would have taken the computer maker on its own.

Barry Hutt, director of technical consulting at Dell, said the company is looking to set up a similar testing lab on the West Coast. "We're trying to work our way across the country," he said.