Dell says that it's introducing a new suite of hardware, software and services to support cloud computing infrastructures just in time to take advantage of customers' growing interest in developing private cloud computing platforms inside their corporate data centers. The center piece of this package is the new Dell PowerEdge C-series servers designed to support high performance computing with efficient energy consumption and affordable total cost of ownership.
SAN FRANCISCO - Dell is counting on the development of private
cloud computing systems within corporate and academic data centers to help
drive sales of its latest line of servers and software.
Dell executives were here March 24 to introduce their enhanced servers, software and services
designed to help organizations build
their own cloud computing systems. The center piece of this package is
new Dell PowerEdge C-series servers designed to support high
performance computing with efficient energy consumption and affordable
total cost of ownership.
Many corporations have experience working with public cloud
computing customer relations management applications and some have worked with
cloud computing services such as Amazon EC2 or Microsoft's new Azure service,
both of which are Dell partner services, noted Forrest Norrod, Dell vice
president and general manager of server platforms.
But Dell also believes that IT managers are ready to start
building private cloud systems inside their data centers, he said.
"I think it is starting now. There was a lot of tire-kicking
last year," as IT managers considered the feasibility of building private cloud
systems as opposed to using existing public cloud services, Norrod said. A year ago they were more likely to find that
they could provision a public cloud application with the necessary storage
capacity on Amazon EC2 or Azure for a lot less than they could do it inside
their own data centers, he said.
But that conclusion was not without "a lot of angst and
introspection," Norrod said, because of a lack of service level agreements and
nagging concerns about security and data compliance issues. Those issues have
led to "an extreme interest" in deploying private cloud systems by exploring
"how do I get the economies of the public cloud inside my firewall, " Norrod
Private cloud systems offer a number of benefits for enterprises,
including reducing the cost of computing resources and storage that would
enable the deployment of applications that might be economically unfeasible
through the companies established IT infrastructures. Dell officials also say
it will enable enterprises to transfer very old, but mission-critical legacy
applications that can run in virtualized environments on a private cloud
Furthermore, cloud systems have the potential to bring
greater agility to an enterprise by providing the computing power to
rapidly respond to business opportunities or a sudden increase in
demand, Norrod said. "An increase in
agility means an increased experimentation," with ways to solve
problems or discover new business opportunities, Norrod said.
For example, Praveen Asthana, Dell's vice president,
networking and strategy for enterprise storage, cited the experience that he and
many other of his fellow Texans have whenever a hailstorm hits somewhere on the
plains of the southwest. Hailstones the size of golf balls and larger smash car
windows, ding paint jobs and damage building roofs.
When this happens there is always a spike in insurance
claims that bring visits from claims adjusters bearing handheld computers of
various kinds. Asthana has noticed that these devices are great for collecting
claim information and even taking photos. But he said that his claims adjuster
expressed frustration when trying to transmit and store the information on the
insurance company's servers mainly because many adjusters around the state are
filing claims at the same time.
A modernized data center with a private cloud system would be able to handle the increased traffic,
reducing user frustration, increasing claims adjuster productivity and improving
customer satisfaction, Asthana said.
Dell officials also cited their role in helping the University of Colorado at
Boulder build a new high performance computing center based on Dell PowerEdge C6100
four-node cloud and cluster servers equipped with Intel Westmere processors.
The university wanted to provide new HPC capacity while
consolidating some of the highly distributed computer resources on the Boulder
campus, said Henry M. Tufo III, an associate professor in the Department of
Computer Science who led the design and deployment effort for the new data
Tufo said that a major goal of the project was to build a
data center that would be highly power- and cost-efficient while avoiding the
need for a highly expensive and time consuming construction project. "Another
major issue was minimizing the impact on campus and on its infrastructure," he
said. That is why the university opted to work with Dell to design a modular
data center that could be deployed in a matter of months in an existing campus
facility. The design and deployment of this new HPC data center spanned about
six months, Tufo said.
The new facility provides the capacity for data-processing
intensive applications that require high performance such as weather and
climate modeling, gene sequencing or seismic data analysis.
It's not the intent of the project to consolidate all of
HPC capacity on campus into one location, since there are many university
departments that want to maintain their own computing resources, Tufo said. But it
is likely that the university will be able to consolidate more of its computing
resources into the new data center over the next year or two, Tufo said.
John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.