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.
A few months ago we announced that we were taking our microserver designs beyond our custom clients and making these systems available to a wider audience. Last month the AMD-based PowerEdge C5125 microserver became available and yesterday the Intel-based PowerEdge C5220 microserver made its debut. Both are ultra-dense 3U systems that pack up to twelve individual servers into one enclosure.
To get a great overview of both the 12 sled and 8 sled versions of the new C5220 system, let product manager Deania Davidson take you on a quick tour:
Target use-cases and environments
Hosting applications such as dedicated, virtualized, shared, static content, and cloud hosting
Web 2.0 applications such as front-end web servers
Power, space, weight and performance constrained data center environments such as co-los and large public organizations such as universities, and government agencies
World Hosting Days is going on right now outside of Frankfurt and our group is using this event to debut our new PowerEdge C microservers. These new microservers, which come in both Intel and AMD flavors, are right-sized for dedicated hosting applications and provide extreme density and efficiency.
Yesterday, we got a shout out during AMD’s session and today Jason Waxman of Intel had kind words for our PowerEdge C5220 microserver during his talk. Jason is Intel’s General Manager, High Density Computing, Data Center Group and this morning he delivered the session, “Driving efficiency, security and simplicity across next generation cloud data centers.”
In the short segment above from Jason’s talk, he spends the first couple of minutes on Intel’s power efficient processors such as the Sandy Bridge Xeon and Atom chips. At the 2:20 mark he switches gears and talks about our new PowerEdge C5220 and how it has been designed with hosters in mind.
Jason stops by our booth
After he got through speaking, Jason stopped by the Dell booth and did a quick video talking specifically about the PowerEdge C5220 and what he really likes about it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the last few years, we have been working with some of the world’s biggest hyperscale data center operators, folks who are deploying thousands, to tens of thousands of servers at a time. Within this select group, the theme that keeps coming up over and over is uber-efficiency.
The customers that we’ve been working with in areas like Web 2.0 and hosting require solutions that are not only extremely dense, but also dramatically drive down costs. When operating at the scale that these organizations do, ultra-efficiency is not a nice to have; it’s one of the most important tools the organization has to drive profitability.
It is with these customers and with their need for ultra-efficiency in mind that we designed the newest edition to our custom light-weight server line-up: Viking, designed to “pillage” inefficiency 🙂
Some of the points Ed touches on:
Viking can hold eight or 12 server nodes in a 3U chassis
Each node is a single socket server with up to 4 hard drives & 16GB of RAM along with two gigabit ethernet ports
It supports Intel’s Lynnfield or Clarkdale processors which means its 2-4 core’s per processor
The chassis also features an integrated switch and includes shared power and cooling infrastructure
The system is cold-aisle serviceable which means everything you need to get to is right in the front.
Light weight servers have been gathering steam recently. Targeted at focused markets like hosting and Web 2.0 they feature the old school architecture of placing one CPU per server and running one OS/application on that server. The new twist here is that they can pack up to 12 servers per one 3U enclosure.
Below, Dell Data Center Solutions chief architect Jimmy Pike takes us through a short whiteboard discussion on how Moore’s law has driven us to multi-core architectures and virtualization and how, in the case of very focused applications, that same law is bringing us back to the future.
Some of the points Jimmy makes:
Given Moore’s law its implausible to continue to drive higher and higher clock rates. This has given rise to multi core architecture.
Native demand of applications on servers hasn’t kept paced with Moore’s law. This has resulted in virtualizaton, allowing you in effect to run multiple servers on a single system.
This same law is also driving us in the opposite direction, to light weight servers which feature a simple one server/one OS architecture in a very energy efficient, cost effective manner targeted at focused applications.
If you’ve been following the cloud space at all you’ll know that hosting provider Rackspace recently lost power twice within a span of 10 days. As NetworkWorld explained:
Power outages on June 29 and July 7 hit Rackspace’s 144,000-square-foot data center in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine. Rackspace operates nine data centers worldwide for about 60,000 customers. Within the Dallas facility, some customers experienced downtime of about 40 minutes on June 29 and on July 7 some customers suffered downtime of 15 to 20 minutes.
During the outages,as information became available Rackspace communicated updates via phone, twitter and their corporate blog.
Last week, two days after the second outage they posted both a blog update as well as this 5 minute video in which their president Lanham Napier explains what happened and what they plan to do about it:
I’m impressed with the way the company has handled these situations and I think its impressive that their president will be working from the Dallas site until the situation is resolved. As he explains, there is no way that you ever going to completely eliminate unplanned downtime. The important thing is how you keep this at a minimum and how you handle and correct an outage when it does occur.
And the rest?
Rackspace is doing quite a bit to make sure that their Dallas facility is fixed and fortified. What I’d also like to hear from them is how they plan to proactively audit their other eight facilities around the world to make sure they are all up to speed.
After the Dallas dust settles maybe its time to make another video?
Extra credit Reading/Listening:
An Interview with Lanham Napier from last year about hosting and cloud computing.