Introducing the Webilicious PowerEdge C8000

September 19, 2012

Today Dell is announcing our new PowerEdge C8000 shared infrastructure chassis which allows you to mix and match compute, GPU/coprocessor and storage sleds all within the same enclosure.  What this allows Web companies to do is to have one common building block that can be used to provide support across the front-, mid- and back end tiers that make up a web company’s architecture.

To give you a better feel for the C8000 check out the three videos below.

  1. Why — Product walk thru:  Product manager for the C8000, Armando Acosta takes you through the system and explains how this chassis and the accompanying sleds better server our Web customers.
  2. Evolving — How we got here:  Drew Schulke, marketing director for Dell Data Center solutions explains the evolution of our shared infrastructure systems and what led us to develop the C8000.
  3. Super Computing — Customer Example:  Dr. Dan Stanzione, deputy director at the Texas Advanced Computing Center talks about the Stampede supercomputer and the role the C8000 plays.

Extra Credit reading

  • Case Study: The Texas Advanced Computing Center
  • Press Release:  Dell Unveils First Shared Infrastructure Solution to Provide Hyperscale Customers with New Modular Computational and Storage Capabilities
  • Web page: PowerEdge C8000 — Optimize data center space and performance

Pau for now…


All the best ideas begin on a cocktail napkin — DCS turns 5

April 11, 2012

A little over a week ago, Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group marked its fifth birthday.  As Timothy Prickett Morgan explains in his article subtitled, “Five years old, and growing like a weed”:

DCS was founded originally to chase the world’s top 20 hyperscale data center operators, and creates stripped-down, super-dense, and energy-efficient machines that can mean the different between a profit and a loss for those data center operators.

This team, which now represents a greater than $1 billion dollar business and has expanded beyond just custom systems to include standard systems built for the “next 1000,”  all started on a simple napkin.

The origin of DCS -- Ty’s Sonic sketch - November 2, 2006

From napkin to “Frankenserver,” to today

Ty Schmitt who was one of the original team and now is the executive director of Dell’s modular infrastructure team within DCS, explains:

This was sketch I made over drinks with Jimmy Pike late one night after visiting a big customer on the west coast.  We we were working on a concept for a 1U system for them based on their requested requirements.   As you can see by the date (Nov 2006) it was actually before DCS became official … we were a skunk works team called “Sonic” consisting of a hand full of people.   We wanted to take an existing chassis and overhaul it to fit 4 HD’s, a specific MB, and SATA controller.  When we got back to Austin, I modified the chassis in the RR5 machine shop (took parts from several different systems and attached them together) and Jimmy outfitted it with electronics, tested it, and it was sent to the customer as a sample unit.

This first proto was described by the customer as “Frankenserver” and was the beginning of the relationship we have with one of our biggest customers.

A little over five years later, Dell’s DCS team has gone from Frankenserver to commanding 45.2 percent revenue share in a market that IDC estimates at $458 million in sales last quarter.  Pretty cool.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Dell’s Modular Data Center powers Bing Maps

August 1, 2011

Late last week we announced that Dell’s Data Center Solutions group had outfitted Bing Maps’ uber-efficient, uber-compact data center (or as Microsoft calls it  “microsite”), located in Longmont, Colorado.  The facility is a dedicated imagery processing site to support Streetside, Bird’s Eye, aerial and satellite image types provided by Bing Maps.  The site’s key components are Dell’s Modular Data Centers and Melanox Infiniband networking.

Brad Clark, Group Program Manager, Bing Maps Imagery Technologies described their goal for the project, “Our goal was to push technological boundaries, to build a cost effective and efficient microsite.  We ended-up with a no-frills high-performance microsite to deliver complicated geospatial applications that can in effect ‘quilt’ different pieces of imagery into a cohesive mosaic that everyone can access.”

Keeping things cool

The challenge when building out the Longmont site was to design a modular outdoor solution that was optimized for power, space, network connectivity and workload performance.

The modules that Dell delivered use a unique blend of  free-air with evaporative cooling technology, helping to deliver world-class efficiency and a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) as low as 1.03.

To watch the whole site being built in time-lapse check this out:

Extra-credit reading


A walk thru Facebook’s HQ on Open Compute day

April 12, 2011

Last Thursday a group of us from Dell attended and participated in the unveiling of Facebook’s Open Compute project.

Much the way open source software shares the code behind the software, the Open Compute project has been created to provide the specifications behind the servers and the data center.    By releasing these specs, Facebook is looking to promote the sharing of data center and server technology best practices across the industry.

Pre-Event

The unassuming entrance to Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters.

The Facebook wall.

Facebook headquarters at 8am. (nice monitors! :)

Words of wisdom on the wall.

The Event

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg kicks off the Open Compute event.

The panel moderated by Om Malik that closed the event. Left to right: Om, Graham Weston of Rackspace, Frank Frankovsky of Facebook, Michael Locatis of the DOE, Alan Leinwand of Zynga, Forrest Norrod of Dell (with the mic) and Jason Waxman of Intel.

Post-event show & tell: Drew Schulke of Dell's DCS team being interviewed for the nightly news and showing off a Dell DCS server that incorporates elements of Open Compute.

Extra credit reading

  • GigaOM: Bringing Facebook’s Open Compute Project Down to Earth
  • The Register:  Facebook’s open hardware: Does it compute?

Pau for now…


Forrest Norrod of Dell on Open Compute

April 7, 2011

This morning, at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, the company unveiled the Open Compute project.  Also on hand to support the announcement were partners such as Dell and Intel, who served on a panel alongside representatives from Rackspace, the Department of Energy, Zynga and Facebook.  Forrest Norrod, GM of Dell’s server platform division represented Dell on the panel.

I caught up with Forrest after the event to get his take on the Open Compute project and what it means for Dell.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Facebook, OpenCompute and Dell

April 7, 2011

Today at its headquarters in Palo Alto, Facebook and a collection of partners such as Dell, Intel and AMD  — as well as kindred spirits like RackSpace’s founder (the company behind OpenStack) and the CIO of the Department of Energy — are on hand to reveal the details behind Facebook’s first custom-built data center and to announce the Open Compute project.

Efficiency: saving energy and cost

The big message behind Facebook’s new data center, located in Prineville Oregon, is one of efficiency and openness.  The facility will use servers and technology that deliver a 38 percent gain ìn energy efficiency.  To bring the knowledge that the company and its partners have gained in constructing this hyper-efficient hyper-scale data center Facebook is announcing the Open Compute project.

Much the way open source software shares the code behind the software, the Open Compute project has been created to provide the specifications behind the hardware.  As a result, Facebook will be publishing the specs for the technology used in their data center’s servers, power supplies, racks, battery backup systems and building design.  By releasing these specs, Facebook is looking to promote the sharing of data center and server technology best practices across the industry.

How does Dell fit in?

Dell, which has a long relationship with Facebook, has been collaborating on the Open Compute project.  Dell’s Data Center Solutions group has designed and built a data center solution using components from the Open Compute project and the server portion of that solution will be on display today at Facebook’s event.  Additionally Forrest Norrod, Dell’s GM of server platforms will be a member of the panel at the event talking about the two companies’ common goal of designing the next generation of hyper efficient data centers.

A bit of history

Dell first started working with Facebook back in 2008 when they had a “mere” 62 million active users.  At that time the three primary areas of focus in with regards to the Facebook IT infrastructure were:

  1. Decreasing power usage
  2. Creating purpose-built servers to match Facebook’s tiered infrastructure needs
  3. Having tier 1 dedicated engineering resources to meet custom product and service needs

Over the last three-plus years, as Facebook has grown to over 500 million active users, Dell has spefically helped out to address these challenges by:

  • Building custom solutions to meet Facebook’s evolving needs, from custom-designed servers for their web cache, to memcache systems to systems supporting their database tiers.
  • Delivering these unique servers quickly and cost effectively via Dell’s global supply chain.  Our motto is “arrive and live in five”, so within five hours of the racks of servers arriving at the dock doors, they’re live and helping to support Facebook’s 500 million users.
  • Achieving the greatest performance with the highest possible efficiency. Within one year, as the result of Dell’s turnkey rack integration and deployment services, we were able to save Facebook 84,000 pounds of corrugated cardboard and 39,000 pounds of polystyrene during that same year.

Congratulations Facebook! And thank you for focusing on both open sharing and on energy efficiency from the very beginning!

Pau for now…


Dells Data Center Solutions group turns Four!

March 28, 2011

Dell’s Data Center Solutions group (DCS) is no longer a toddler.  Over the weekend we turned four!

Four years ago on March 27, 2007 Dell announced the formation of the Data Center Solutions group, a special crack team designed to service the needs of hyperscale customers.  On that day eWeek announced the event in their article Dell Takes On Data Centers with New Services Unit and within the first week Forrest Norrod, founding DCS GM and currently the GM of Dell’s server platform division, spelled out to the world our goals and mission (in re-watching the video its amazing to see how true to that mission we have been):

The DCS Story

If you’re not familiar with the DCS story, here is how it all began.  Four years ago Dell’s Data Center Solutions team was formed to directly address a new segment that begin developing in the marketplace, the “hyperscale” segment.  This segment was characterized by customers who were deploying 1,000s if not 10,000s of servers at a time.

These customers saw their data center as their factory and technology as a competitive weapon.  Along with the huge scale they were deploying at, they had a unique architecture and approach specifically, resiliency and availability were built into the software rather than the hardware.  As a result they were looking for system designs that focused less on redundancy and availability and more on TCO, density and energy efficiency.  DCS was formed to address these needs.

Working directly with a small group of customers

From the very beginning DCS took the Dell direct customer model and drove it even closer to the customer.  DCS architects and engineers sit down with the customer and before talking about system specs they learn about the customer’s environment, what problem they are looking to solve and what type of application(s) they will be running.  From there the DCS team designs and creates a system to match the customer’s needs.

In addition to major internet players, DCS’s customers include financial services organizations, national government agencies, institutional universities, laboratory environments and energy producers.  Given the extreme high-touch nature of this segment, the DCS group handles only 20-30 customers worldwide but these customers such as Facebook, Lawrence Livermore National Labs and Microsoft Azure are buying at such volumes that the system numbers are ginormous.

Expanding to the “next 1000”

Ironically because it was so high-touch, Dell’s scale out business didn’t scale beyond our group of 20-30 custom customers.   This meant considerable pent up demand from organizations one tier below.   After thinking about it for a while we came up with a different model to address their needs.  Leveraging the knowledge and experience we had gained working with the largest hyperscale players, a year ago we launched a portfolio of specialized products and solutions to address “the next 1000.”

The foundation for this portfolio is a line of specialized PowerEdge C systems derived from the custom systems we have been designing for the “biggest of the big.”  Along with these systems we have launched a set of complete solutions that we have put together with the help of a set of key partners:

  • Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications: A turnkey platform-as-a-service offering targeted at IT service providers, hosting companies and telcos.  This private cloud offering combines Dell’s specialized cloud servers with fully integrated software from Joyent.
  • Dell Cloud Solution for Data Analytics: A combination of Dell’s PowerEdge C servers with Aster Data’s nCluster, a massively parallel processing database with an integrated analytics engine.
  • Dell | Canonical Enterprise Cloud, Standard Edition: A “cloud-in-a-box” that allows the setting up of an affordable Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas)-style private clouds in computer labs or data centers.
  • OpenStack: We are working with Rackspace to deliver an OpenStack solution later this year.  OpenStack is the open source cloud platform built on top of code donated by Rackspace and NASA and is now being further developed by the community.

These first four years have been a wild ride.  Here’s hoping the next four will be just as crazy!

Extra-credit reading

Articles

DCS Whitepapers

Case studies


DCS brings its experience to a wider Web Hosting audience — announcing PowerEdge C microservers

March 22, 2011

Over the past three years Dell’s Data Center Solutions group has been designing custom microservers for a select group of web hosters.  The first generation allowed one of France’s largest hosters, Online.net to enter a new market and gain double digit market share.  The second generation brought additional capabilities to the original design along with greater performance.

Today we are announcing that we are taking our microserver designs beyond our custom clients and are making these systems available to a wider audience through our PowerEdge C line of systems.  The PowerEdge C5125 and C5220 are ultra-dense 3U systems that pack up to twelve individual servers into one enclosure.  The C5125, which is AMD based, will be available next month and the Intel-based C5220 will be available in May.

The PowerEdge C5125 with one of the 12 server sleds pulled out.

So what the heck is a “microserver”

Microservers are a new class of systems specifically designed for those use cases where multi-core CPU architecture and extensive virtualization are overkill.  What they provide instead are multiple low-cost dedicated servers, each featuring a single-socket CPU, where one CPU is perfect for running single applications.

The general idea behind these lighter weight systems is that they are right-sized for a particular set of applications such as serving up Web pages, streaming video and certain online gaming services.

DCS’s third generation of microservers

One of the most important attributes of the PowerEdge C5125 and C5220 is their density.  By packing 12 one-socket servers in a 3U form factor these systems deliver four times the density of more conventional 1U servers.  This translates to four times less floor space, cabling and racks all of which means greater revenue per square foot for web hosters and data center operators.

These systems further save on power and cooling by leveraging shared infrastructure.  The server nodes in the chassis share mechanicals, high-efficiency fans and redundant power supplies all of which helps it save up to 75% in cooling costs compared to typical 1U servers.

One of the server sleds from the C5125. This is a four 2.5-inch HDD version, there is also a two 3.5-inch HDD version.

So if power, cooling and revenue per square foot are somethings you are concerned with or you are looking to provide dedicated hosting to your customers of lighter weight applications you just might find the PowerEdge C microserver systems something you want to take a closer look at :).

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


DCS Microserver allows French hoster to enter new market (and grab big market share)

March 21, 2011

Online.net, owned by the Iliad group, is the second largest hoster in the French market.  The company had traditionally been focused on the higher end of the dedicated hosting market with services starting at 29.99 euro/month and predominantly based on Dell’s rack mounted servers.  About three years ago they began exploring the possibility of providing a lighter weight entry-level offering targeted at SMBs.

Online engaged Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group and the two teams began brainstorming around system designs to meet the needs of this new segment.  The design that DCS came up with was the Via processor-based microserver the Dell X511-VX8, code name“Fortuna” (please note I had nothing to do with the official naming of this product :)). The system handles one OS and app per server, has one 1 CPU per server and features 12 servers per chassis.

Online.net's "START" line of offerings, beginning with the microserver enabled, Dedibox SC.

Thanks to these ultra cost-efficient systems, Online was able to provide SMB customers with an entry-level offering at half the price of their next lowest product.  Not only that but this new offering allowed Online to grab significant share in the French market.

Tres tres cool et tres tres (geek) chic

If you want to see the Dell X511-VX8 in action or take a tour of Online’s datacenter and operations, all set to chill house music, check out the video below.  (The rows and rows of X511s appear at the 1:40 mark and go until 2:40.  You can also see a quick overview of one of the microservers themselves at the 4:36 mark).

Beyond the Dell X511-VX8

The success that Online had with the X511 gave DCS insight into the potential of the microserver market.  Based on the concepts that came from the work with Online.net, DCS created a follow-on offering, code-named “Viking,” for our custom accounts.

This too was a big success, so much so that we will soon be taking this experience even broader as we look to announce our third generation microserver.

Stay tuned!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Now Available, HPC monster machine

March 1, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, we announced the PowerEdge C6145 system made up of two servers crammed into a 2U enclosure with a total of 96 cores.  Today that system officially became available for purchase.

Rave reviews

This system got a great review in  CRN yesterday entitled “Performance Of Dell’s PowerEdge C6145 Rack Server Off The Charts.”  To give you a taste, here is how the article begins:

Dell (NSDQ:Dell) has really outdone itself. On Tuesday, the company begins shipping a machine that the CRN Test Center can only describe as 2010 Server of the Year squared.

Officially called the PowerEdge C6145, Dell’s latest monster server more than doubled the Geekbench score of the reigning champ, the Dell R815.

This is from the article that SearchDataCenter.com did:

Talk about dense. Dell’s new PowerEdge C6145 server stuffs eight AMD Opteron processors in a single 2U enclosure, making it a standout for high-performance computing (HPC) and, potentially, virtualization…By way of comparison, Dell called out Hewlett-Packard’s eight-way ProLiant DL 980 G7, which has 8U and takes up four times as much space as the Dell box. This is especially important in HPC environments, which, in their scope, tend to put a premium on footprint.

And the Register had this to say

This will be extremely useful for companies that want to attach lots of storage or networking to server nodes in dense configurations, or those who want to cram in a lot of cores into a box and lash them to lots of external GPU co-processors.

The C6145 is Dell Data Center Solutions group’s fourth HPC system in 12 months.  Looks like we’re picking up some momentum :)

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


And on the other end of the spectrum — Microservers

February 16, 2011

Monday I wrote about the announcement of our mega-beefy, 96-core PowerEdge C6145 server, specifically geared to customers solving big problems involving huge and complex data sets in mapping, visualization, simulations and rendering.

At the other end of the spectrum however are customers, such as those offering low-end dedicated hosting solutions, who are looking for systems with only enough processing and storage to serve up straight-forward, focused applications such as those for serving up webpages, streaming video etc.  These “right-sized” systems are referred to as “micro” or “light weight” servers.

Take a listen to Data Center Solutions marketing director Drew Schulke below as he explains the origin of the microserver and walks you through our second generation offering in this space.

Some of the area Drew covers:

  • How did Dell get into the microserver market 2-3 years ago
  • How the progression of Moore’s law caused processing power to out strip the needs of many applications.
  • A walk through of our second generation microserver which packs 12 single socket servers into one 3Uenclosure.

We will continue to be making noise in this space.  Be sure to tune in next time as our topic will be a mini “case study” on Dell’s first generation microserver deployed at a large hoster in France.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Dell DCS unveils its 4th HPC offering in 12 months, and its a beefy one

February 14, 2011

Today Dell Data Center Solutions (DCS) is announcing the PowerEdge C6145, number four in our line of offerings targeted specifically at High Performance Computing.  This AMD-based system, which contains two four-socket servers for a total of 96 cores, ranked as the highest performing x86 2U shared infrastructure server on the market based on SPECfp_rate2006 results. In addition, the PowerEdge C6145 can deliver up to a 534% better price performance at 1/5 the cost and 1/4 of the rack space when compared to HP’s ProLiant DL980 G71.

The HPC beat goes on

When we in DCS launched our PowerEdge C line almost a year ago, our first HPC-focused machine was the Intel-based C6100.   We followed it three months later with our C410x expansion chassis to supercharge it and then, three months after that, we came out with the AMD version of the C6100, the PowerEdge C6105.   Now three months after that system debuted we are unveiling the C6145.  All three servers come in the same 2U package but with differing chips and architectures targeted at different HPC application types.

Check out the video below and let the C6145 architect, John Stuewe take you on a quick tour of this new muscle machine.

Hairy problem solver

The PowerEdge C6145 with its 755FLOPS and up to 1T of memory is specifically geared to solving big problems involving huge and complex data sets in mapping, visualization, simulations and rendering, and solving them faster.  With regards to efficiency, the shared infrastructure design of the system can reduce the number of individual fans by 1/4 compared to traditional 2U systems with less power needed to cool and resulting in higher performance per watt, per dollar.

Super charge it

As if 96 cores packed into 2U wasn’t powerful enough, you can take your workloads “to 11″ with the help of the PowerEdge C410x.  The C410x PCIe expansion chassis allows you to double the server to graphics processing unit (GPU) ratio to 1:8 to create a number-crunching uber powerhouse.

Dell DCS has been listening to their HPC customers and rolling out systems to meet their needs, today we’ve announced the latest in our line up, the PowerEdge C6145.

Extra-Credit reading:

Pau for now…

1 Based on testing by Dell Labs. Dell PowerEdge C6145: SPECfp_rate2006 of 1310 in 2U as compared to HP ProLiant DL980 G7: SPECfp_rate2006 of 1080 in 8U.  SPEC® and the benchmark name SPECfp® are registered trademarks of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation.  Competitive benchmarks stated above reflect results published or submitted to www.spec.org as of Feb 14, 2011.  The comparison presented above is based on the best performing 8-chip x86 servers.  For the latest SPECfp_rate2006 benchmark results, visit http://www.spec.org/cpu2006. Actual performance will vary based on configuration, usage and manufacturing variability.

Meet Roy Guillen — GM of Dell’s DCS group

February 11, 2011

In case you’re not familiar with it, Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group has been around for nearly four years, acting as a “custom tailor” to some of the largest internet superstars and scale-out leaders, organizations like Facebook, Microsoft Azure and Lawrence Livermore national labs.  A year ago DCS added to this custom capability by bringing out a line of specialized servers paired with software solutions targeted at the tier of customers right below these “biggest of the big.”

A changing of the guard
Last March, Roy Guillen took over the helm as the General Manager of the DCS group when the then current GM, Forrest Norrod was promoted to run all of servers at Dell.  Near the end of the year I sat down with Roy to get his thoughts on what made DCS, DCS and learn what success looked like for him.

Some of the ground Roy covers:

  • His Background
  • [0:49] What makes DCS unique within Dell and the industry
  • [2:01] The customer story that best sums up DCS
  • [3:25] The one thing that isn’t well known about DCS
  • [4:18] What does success look like for you?

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Architecture Overview: The Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications

February 10, 2011

Last November, Dell announced the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications.   This turnkey offering is composed of Dell systems and Joyent Software along with a reference architecture all supported by Dell services.  This solution enables a private Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment to support the development and testing of languages such as PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby and Java.

This solution is designed for hosters and telcos who are looking to provide public PaaS offerings.  An example of this is Uniserve, a Canadian Internet services provider.  Uniserve has adopted the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications to offer on-demand access to a high-performance Internet application and consumer delivery platform, for customers to develop iPhone apps to commercial storefronts, to hosting and delivering Software-as-a-Service.

Check out the short video above where Dell Data Center Solutions architect Brian Harris  provides a high level overview of the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications architecture.

Some of the areas Brian covers:

  • Purpose build hardware
  • Smart OSs
  • Smart machines
  • Self-service portal
  • Dell Support

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


DCS’s Chief Geek takes us on a tour of his mini Home Lab

February 4, 2011

Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group has some pretty colorful folks.  One of the more interesting members is Jimmy Pike, the man IDG New’s James Niccolai refered to as the “Willy Wonka of servers.”  Jimmy, the self-proclaimed “chief geek” of the DCS team is the consummate tinkerer whether that involves constructing a data center in a brief case or thinking of new ways of driving down data center power consumption by leveraging alternative forms energy.

Last Spring I visited Jimmy’s home to check out what he was working on in his “free time.”  Here’s what I saw (he keeps telling me he’s got much cooler stuff since I shot this so I may have to do a “geekquel”)

Some of the things Jimmy show us:

  • The low-power chips he’s playing with
  • His experimentation with user interfaces and superman glasses
  • His mini rack of servers
  • The various forms of desktop virtualization and OS’s he uses
  • Laying out and designing boards by mail
  • His micro recording studio

Extra-Credit reading

Pau for now…


DCS systems, solutions and MDC steal show at Dell sales kick-off

February 1, 2011

Every year at the end of January Dell holds a giant kick-off meeting for our enterprise and public sales forces.  The event, which has been held in Las Vegas the last two years, is a four-day happening consisting of keynotes, sessions and a full-scale expo where the sales team can touch and learn first-hand about the latest and greatest in Dell solutions and offerings.

Setting up the DCS Modular Data Center on the expo floor

At last year’s sales kick-off, the Data Center Solutions (DCS) group had our big coming out party, letting the sales force know that we would be expanding beyond our elite custom system business, with a specialized PowerEdge C line and a set of cloud solutions.

This year the systems and solutions have been out in the market for a little while and we were able to share actual case studies with the attendees showing how our systems and solutions have been able to solve real customer problems.  The big new addition to the DCS line up was our Modular Data Center (MDC) which, until just a few months ago, was reserved only for a very small group of select customers.

Gearing up for day two of both duty at the DCS booth.

As you can tell from the picture above, the MDC took up a big part of our booth.  It served to house our PowerEdgeC servers and host a selection of our cloud solutions:

Additionally, to provide a peak at what PowerEdge C systems we have up our sleeve, we had several units in an uber secret whisper suite.

Our overall message at the booth was that although these components can be used individually, if you want to run “the world’s most efficient hyperscale data center” you’ll want to combine these optimized solutions and systems with the MDC into one hyper-efficient, integrated system.

Well received

Now as a member of the DCS team I may be a little biased but I really think we had the coolest booth there :)  It was great to hear comments from the sales force such as “this is awesome!” and “why didn’t I know about this?!”

We’ll have to start now to figure how we will top this next year.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Low voltage DIMMs can mean huge savings in Hyperscale environments

January 16, 2011

Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group focuses on customers operating huge scaled out environments.  Given the number of systems deployed in these environments we are always looking for ways to take energy out of our systems.  A half a watt here, a half a watt there means big energy savings when multiplied across a hyper scale environment and translates into lower costs to our environment and to our customers’ operating budgets.

Recently we have adopted Samsung’s low voltage DIMMs (“Green DDR3″) in our efforts to drive efficiencies.   Take a listen to DCS’s Executive Director of engineering and architecture, Reuben Martinez, in the video below as he walks you through how a seemingly small decrease in DIMM voltage can translate to millions of dollars of savings in hyper scale environments.

Some of the ground Reuben covers:

  • How much energy US data centers consume and how this has grown.
  • What is happening to the cost of energy (hint: its going up:).
  • How our PowerEdge C6105 is designed for power efficiency including utilizing Samsung’s low-voltage memory. (BTW, Samsumg’s Green DDR3′s are also available in our C1100, C2100 and C6100)
  • The amount of power consumed by memory compared to the CPU (you may be surprised)
  • [2:35] The TCO calculation that shows the savings that low voltage DIMMs can provide in a typical data center environment.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Dell Cloud Solutions up and running!

November 19, 2010

Back in March we announced Dell’s cloud solutions.  Today at a press conference in San Francisco we announced their general availability along with some examples of customers who are employing them. (Woohoo!)

What’s the big idea

The idea behind these offerings has been to leverage the experience we in the DCS group have gained over the last several years providing custom systems to some of the world’s largest cloud providers.  These new solutions are targeted at organizations the next tier down (the “next 1,000″) from the hyperscale customers we have been working with.

Who’s using these solutions, a couple of examples

  • Uniserve, a Canadian Internet services provider, has adopted the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications to offer on-demand access to a high-performance Internet application and consumer delivery platform, for customers to develop iPhone apps to commercial storefronts, to hosting and delivering Software-as-a-Service.
  • InsightExpress, a leading provider of digital marketing research solutions, has deployed the Dell Solution for Data Analytics. The solution combines analytic platform software from Aster Data with Dell PowerEdge C servers with joint service and support, enabling InsightExpress to measure the effectiveness of advertising and brand communications for clients to drive high performing marketing campaigns.

How we got here

We started our expansion by creating a line of specialized PowerEdge C servers patterned after the custom systems we have been designing for the “biggest of the big.”  What we realized though is that, unlike the biggest players who write their own software, the next 1000 don’t just want servers, they want solutions that also include software and services as well.

The three integrated solutions that are available today are:

  • Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications: A turnkey platform-as-a-service offering targeted at IT service providers, hosting companies and telcos.  This private cloud offering combines Dell’s specialized cloud servers with fully integrated software from Joyent.
  • Dell Cloud Solution for Data Analytics: A combination of Dell’s PowerEdge C servers with Aster Data’s nCluster, a massively parallel processing database with an integrated analytics engine.
  • Dell Cloud Solution for Data Warehousing: PowerEdge C servers and Greenplum Database 4.0 for building enterprise data warehouses and consolidating data marts in massively parallel processing environments.

Stay tuned for more news and more solutions!

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading:


Tier5 first to fire up Dell’s 3rd-gen Modular Data Center

November 14, 2010

Last week, Tier5 who has taken over an old Mitsubishi facility in Adelaide was the first company globally to deploy Dell’s third generation Modular Data Center.  Tier5 is an eight-person start up that is turning the former auto plant into a state-of-the-art data center park to be leased by wholesale tenants including managed service providers, resellers and large users.

Instead of building out a traditional data center Tier5 went with Dell’s Modular Data Center (MDC) which snaps together like ginormous Legos allowing systems to be up and running in as little as a week.  The MDC’s modular nature also allows capacity to be added incrementally as needed.

For a great overview, check out the short video that ITNews did at the opening press conference on Tuesday.

Hand-in-hand

To get Tier5 exactly what they wanted Dell’s DCS team worked collaboratively with the Tier5 engineers over a period of nine to 10 months to nail down the exact specs.  As Tier5 founder Marty Gauvin said, “Our engagement with Dell DCS was enormously collaborative.  We were able to achieve our objectives in a very collaborative way, and then go beyond them.”

So what is this thing?

The shell of Dell’s MDC solution is formed by a steel frame, rather than a standard rigid shipping container. As a result of this design, Dell can deploy modules with different configurations to meet the needs of different customers.  Each module houses up to 12 standard server racks and up to 2,500 servers. The design gives Tier5 the flexibility to mix and match hardware components within a module to better serve the specific needs of its customers.

The MDC solution contains two rows of custom-built racks with a center hot aisle, a design that allows  easy access to components for servicing and maintenance. The module offers an easily accessible connection point for power and cooling as well as IT management. It also offers multiple cooling options, including chilled water, evaporative cooling and outside air. This enables users to choose the cooling option that works best for the site and the climate.

Keepin’ it green

Besides allowing Tier5 to be agile and not having to tie up capital until right before its needed, the MDC also saves on a tremendous amount of power.  Tier5 estimates a best in class power usage efficiency (PUE) of 1.18 for the Adelaide modular data center.   This in turn will result in their customers saving approximately AUD $8 million in power costs per year.

Where to next?

So the first third-generation Dell MDC has surfaced down under.  Stay tuned to see where in the world the next one will pop up. :)

Extra-credit reading

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The Importance of Supply Chain when Serving the Internet’s Cloudy Superstars

November 8, 2010

Ironically when Dell, the company that built its success around supply chain management excellence, started the Data Center Solutions group to serve the “biggest of the big,” supply chain and procurement were just bit players.

I recently sat down with Chris Thompson who heads up the DCS supply chain and procurement organization and learned how this changed and the importance of his group in meeting the needs of this very unique customer set.

Some of the topics Chris tackles:

  • How his group helps customers get to revenue faster.
  • To what extent the DCS supply chain org is independent of Dell “normal” processes and procedures and to what extent it leverages them.
  • How has Chris’ group affected traditional Dell supply chain practices.

Extra credit reading:

Pau for now…


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