Structure: Thoughts by Rich Miller of DataCenter Knowledge

June 28, 2011

To close out my series of interviews from last week’s Structure conference in San Francisco, below is the chat I had with Data Center Knowledge‘s founder and editor, Rich Miller.  Last week’s event was the 4th Structure conference that Rich attended and I got his thoughts on some of the hot topics.

Some of the ground Rich covers

  • How the discussion of cloud has evolved over the last four years
  • (1:21)  Rich’s thoughts on OpenFlow and the networking space
  • (2:25) Reflections on the next-gen server/chip discussion and the companies on the panel: SeaMicro, Tilera, Calxeda and AMD
  • (4:25) Facebook’s OpenCompute project and the new openess in data center design

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…


Live from World Hosting Days – AMD’s John Freuhe talks about the AMD based PowerEdge C systems

March 23, 2011

This week, outside of Frankfurt, WorldHostingDays is taking place.  A whole delegation of folks from the Data Center Solutions group is there to support the announcement of our new microserver line.   A lot of our key partners are there as well.  One such partner is AMD.

Earlier today, AMD director of product marketing John Fruehe held a session entitled “Core Scalability in a cloud environment.”  Above is a three minute section where John talks about the three AMD-based systems that are part of the PowerEdge C line:

  • The PowerEdge C5125 microserver which we announced yesterday
  • The PowerEdge C6105 optimized for performance per watt per dollar.
  • The PowerEdge C6145 our HPC monster machine

Take a listen as John walks you through the products and their use cases.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


A Walk-thru of our new Hyper-scale inspired Microserver

March 22, 2011

Earlier this morning at WorldHostingDays outside of Frankfurt, we announced our new line of PowerEdge C microservers.  While this is our third generation of microservers, its the first that are available beyond the custom designed systems we’ve been building for a small group of hyperscale web hosters.

If you’re not familiar with microservers, their big appeal is that they are right-sized for many dedicated hosting applications and provide extreme density and efficiency, all of which drive up a data center’s revenue per square foot.  As an example, our first generation allowed one of France’s largest hosters, Online.net to efficiently enter a new market and gain double digit market share.

To see exactly what these systems are all about, check out this short walk thru by Product Manager Deania Davidson.  The system that Deania is showing off is the AMD-based PowerEdge C5125 which will be available next month.  Also announced today is the Intel-based PowerEdge C5220 which will be out in May.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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…


Welcome the uber-dense AMD-based Cloud/ HPC machine

September 13, 2010

The last couple of Dell Data Center Solutions offerings I’ve talked about, Viking and MDC, have been from the custom side of the house.  Both of these solutions are targeted specifically at a few select large customers.

The subject of today’s post however, the PowerEdge C6105 server, is available to anyone running a scaled out environment.  It, alongside the recently available C410X expansion chassis, represent the latest additions to the PowerEdge C line that we launched back in March.

Efficiency is its middle name

Designed to maximize performance per watt per dollar, the C6105 is ideal for energy and budget constrained scale-out environments.  Targets include: Scale-out Web 2.0, hosting, and HPC applications where core count and power efficiency are the priority.

Want a closer look? Click below and product manager Steve Croce will give you a quick overview.

Some of the points Steve touches on:

  • The 6105 is very dense: essentially four servers in a 2U chassis
  • The system leverages “shared infrastructure,” e.g two power supplies for all four servers,  four 2U fans to cool it, etc., which results in weight and power savings and allows for an extremely dense system.
  • The 6105 features the Opteron 4000 series which are focused on power efficiency
  • It holds 12 3.5 inch disks.  Each server gets 3 disks.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Pics from Structure opening festivities

June 24, 2010

Last night, as a lead in to today’s Structure conference, there were two events scheduled here in San Francisco.  The first was a cocktail party hosted by AMD.  The second was a private dinner hosted by GigaOM where each of the sponsors got to send a representative.

Here are some pictures from the two events.

The AMD cocktail party was held in a very cool space. Here it is not long after it opened.

We showed off some of our AMD-based custom systems.

Before long the party was packed (and hot).

I decided to walk from the party to the dinner. The restaurant, the Waterbar, was right under the Bay Bridge.

A bow and arrow along the way.

Pre-dinner drinks.

Pre-dinner remarks with the Bay Bridge as a backdrop. L->R , Mathew Ingram, CEO Paul Walborsky and Stacey Higginbotham

Stay tuned for more stuff from Structure.

Pau for now…


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