“The 12g servers offer better I/O, 300% more VMs and 26% energy savings”

Sridhar S, Director – Enterprise, Solutions Business Global 500, Dell India, talked to Prashant L Rao about Dell’s latest server line

How did Dell go about designing its latest batch of servers?
We took feedback from 7,700 customers in 17 countries across four continents. We started by looking at the workloads—it could be Big Data, VDI or data warehousing/BI. Then we looked at things that could impact their performance from a data center point of view. The acquisition of Force 10 gave us the capability to integrate 10 GbE native across the board. That allowed us to bring about better I/O and offer 300% more VMs in the same space along with 26% energy savings from generation to generation. For instance, our 6220 Cloud server delivers 100 watts of chassis-to-chassis benefit. We have the 820 4-way, 620 2-way, the 720XD and a tower model. These servers all offer up to 768 GB of RAM. The 720XD has 24 internal drives and can become a storage server for database applications or medical imaging. It can handle three times the number of Exchange mailboxes as the previous version.

We have launched quick start solutions from an application workload perspective. We offer native 10 GbE and with the fabric you can bring it to 10/40 at a future date.

Are there improvements in manageability?
We looked at management in terms of getting inefficiencies out of the system, reducing dependencies etc. Our embedded lifecycle controller has a lot of features that automatically allow you to do things like constantly polling for a firmware upgrade, which can now occur without human intervention. Unlike the competition, it is the second generation of embedded lifecycle management for us.

Flash memory is being used extensively by storage vendors. Are you employing it in your server line?
We have CacheCade data acceleration with PCI-E solid state devices that are hot-swappable and front-accessible.

What are the innovations in terms of cooling?
These servers can run at 45 degrees centigrade for 900 hours. At the component level, the box is organized so that there is enough cooling with no overlapping layers and sufficient venting. You can pull out heat from the rack, filtered fresh air can be passed through and the server will run beautifully. You don’t need to spend on chillers.

Thermal management and material research helped us reduce power consumption. We have the industry’s first servers to have Titanium energy-rated power supplies.

Are these servers all powered by the latest Intel processors?
These servers are all powered by Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge with 12 cores. We offer AMD Interlagos 16 core processors in our 11g server line. AMD’s strong in HPC. There are sectors where it is more about processing and there’s less I/O dependency. AMD does well for those kinds of applications.

Who do you see buying these servers?
Customers who are looking for a server purchase, those who bought 9th or 10th generation servers and those looking at rapid virtualization without expanding the data center would all be considering the 12g servers.

Is desktop virtualization coming of age?
Today, you can get up to 70 VMs on a single 4-way server. Desktop virtualization is starting to move from the proof of concept stage. Earlier, people were looking at the per-user cost and that’s higher with virtual desktops. When people start looking at provisioning on the fly and manageability, then this concept catches on.

How did you manage the impact of the Thai floods?
We looked at our projected customer requirements and our usual run-rates and worked closely with customers to handle the limited inventory that was given to us in a better way. Over the last four months, we have been able to control that.

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