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.
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 :).
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.
Microservers are a class of scaled-out systems that Dell’s Data Center Solutions group has been designing for customers for the last several years. These ultra-dense systems are made up of up to twelve discrete servers within one enclosure and are perfect for dedicated web hosting and telco customers.
With a little help from our friends
Take a listen to Intel’s director of cloud marketing, Raejeanne Skillern as she talks about how Intel’s been involved in this space and how the two companies have worked together in the microserver space in the past and what we may have up our sleeves.
Some of the ground Raejeanne covers
How, over the last few years, Intel has been investigating customer requirements in this space and investing in technology.
Working on delivering standards
How Dell and Intel have worked together
Keep your eyes peeled for something coming in the PowerEdge C space
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.
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.