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!