Dell’s consumer product store has always been famously easy for users to configure and purchase computer equipment, but its business-to-business (B2B) offerings are more complex, work together in complicated configurations, and have much higher budgets. Dell worked with Vertex for over a decade to produce software applications for its public-facing website that helped business customers determine what to buy, how much to buy, and the power, redundancy, and networking configuration needs involved in the purchase.
Vertex provided a variety of B2B website tools for Dell customers to use in their equipment purchasing decision-making. Following are some of the more popular applications we developed.
Data Center Capacity Planner
Configuring server, networking, storage, and backup equipment in a business environment is an extremely complex job. Network administrators and corporate equipment buyers typically spend days or even weeks drawing up network diagrams and making calculations, because a miscalculation or a poor design could cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars. To address this issue on behalf of its customers, Dell hired Vertex to create a data center configuration tool, to be available to business customers through Dell.com, that would make it easy for business customers to decide how to combine Dell equipment for the best return on investment.
Our solution was to design and develop an interactive application that would let customers graphically drag and drop data center objects and connect them in a wide variety of configurations. The resulting application, the Data Center Capacity Planner (DCCP), in use on the Dell.com site for a decade, was a browser-based tool that allowed business users to build and configure entire data center server buildouts graphically. Created for use by data center managers and network administrators alike, the DCCP provided realistic graphical objects representing Dell server, storage, backup, and networking equipment. These graphical objects reproduced the actual equipment faithfully, with the same look and relative dimensions of their real world counterparts, and included all the relevant information needed to represent that physical object’s behavior when configured in combination with other Dell equipment. Racks, servers, routers, switches, uninterruptible power supplies, storage devices, and networking equipment objects could be combined with a series of drag and drop operations. Equipment objects would “snap” into place when moved into positions relative to other objects that were typical of connections.
As objects were dropped into place and automatically “wired” together, the application automatically calculated physical size, weight, power consumption, processing power, and battery backup requirements, as well as what is often the final factor in a purchasing decision – price.
In addition to the browser-based application, Vertex also created a downloadable “desktop” version of the Data Center Capacity Planner for network administrators to use in offline situations.
Dell Energy Calculator
Vertex built the Dell Energy Calculator to help Dell business customers configure their purchases to optimize energy use and efficiency. The application was part of Dell’s strategic deployment of online tools for business users and was featured in Michael Dell’s keynote speech at Oracle Openworld.
Dell Exchange Advisor
The Dell Exchange Advisor was one of a series of interactive “advisor” tools created by Vertex for use on the Dell.com website. The Exchange advisor made it easy for network administrators in corporate LAN environments to create an architecture for Microsoft Exchange deployments. This tool provided a complete view of hardware, software, and service options. A wizard interface allowed users to input their corporate specifications, which the application analyzed to provide an Exchange configuration based on performance sizing and Dell-recommended best practices.
“Wow! That is awesome! Love it!! Please let me know when we have it online. Let’s be sure and include large markets outside US too.” – Michael Dell
What We Did
- Functional Requirements Specifications
- Application Architecture
- Design Documents
- User Interface Design
- Graphic Design
- Application Development
- Database Design and Development
- Testing and QA
- Deployment Support
What We Delivered
- Data Center Capacity Planner Online Application
- Data Center Capacity Desktop Application
- Dell Energy Calculator
- Dell Exchange Advisor