Dell EMC Aims Servers at Data Center Modernization Efforts

The upcoming 14th generation PowerEdge systems will offer features to help enterprises adapt to a cloud-centric world.

Dell.EMC

LAS VEGAS—Dell EMC is arming its upcoming generation of PowerEdge servers with a broad range of new and upgraded capabilities designed to help enterprises navigate their way through a rapidly evolving data center environment--one that is being roiled by the rise of such technologies as the cloud, data analytics, virtualization, software-defined infrastructure, virtual reality, machine learning and the internet of things.

At the company’s Dell EMC World 2017 show here this week—the first show since Dell’s $60 billion-plus acquisition of EMC last fall—executives gave the more than 13,000 attendees a preview of the 14th generation systems due out this summer to coincide with Intel’s expected release of its latest Xeon server processors.

Dell EMC is using not only the Intel chips but also such technologies as non-volatile memory-express (NVMe), new features aimed at improving performance, security and manageability and services to help enterprises migrate to more modern data centers that are agile, scalable and efficient enough to handle the emerging modern workloads that are dictating what needs to be done in the data center.

“At the highest level, IT is all about the applications,” Dell EMC President David Goulden said during his keynote address at the show.

Data centers increasingly are having to run and manage not only traditional enterprise applications like those from such vendors as Oracle, SAP and Microsoft, but also newer general-purpose software like Java and .NET and cloud-native applications such as Python, MongoDB and Spring Boot, Goulden said. At the same time, the applications reside in multiple places, including on-premises environments and the public cloud. To meet these various demands, data centers must modernize, which brings its own set of challenges, such as the growing trend toward software-defined servers, storage and networking, converged and hyperconverged infrastructures and the need to be able to scale up as well as scale out.

All this is happening as enterprises are under increasing pressure to keep down the costs of building and running their data centers.

“They all want to scale performance without that commensurate scale in costs,” Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group, said during Goulden’s keynote.

Most companies are behind on the data center modernization curve, according to Dell EMC officials, who pointed to a survey by the Enterprise Strategy Group that was commissioned by the vendor that indicated only 5 percent of respondents felt they were prepared to meet the IT requirements necessary to create more modern platforms.

The new PowerEdge systems will help customers in their efforts, the officials said. They expect the servers to play a large role in the data center—they’ll not only be embedded in storage and data center appliances, but also in hyperconverged appliances and racks, various technology bundles and other solutions from the company.

The portfolio will include 19 times more NVMe storage than its predecessor to drive improvements in flash storage performance and latency, fast deployment of processor-intensive workloads via one-click BiOS tuning and better storage capacity and agility to offer customers greater leeway in configuring their storage environments to meet their application needs. This is particularly important when running SDS, they said.

The servers also will come with enhanced management capabilities, including a new virtualized condole called OpenManage Enterprise that will offer application plug-ins, an improved interface and customizable reporting features, an enhanced iDRAC 9 that will deliver up to four times the system management performance of the current generation, and ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist, which officials said will speed up the time needed to address failures by as much as 90 percent.

Customers also will be able to run more GPU accelerators in a single configuration through the use of automatic multi-vector cooling capabilities, which will mean that enterprises will be able to put 50 percent more virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) users on a server.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK that the VDI angle is an important one to Dell EMC given the company’s emphasis on virtualization. In addition, it’s “an example of how an improvement in one part of the portfolio can benefit another part of the portfolio,” King said.

Security features will include System Lockdown for preventing configuration changes that could create vulnerabilities, SecureBoot and System Erase to erase user data from retired servers. Capabilities and features like SecureBoot, IDRAC RESTful APIs that are compliant with open-source Redfish standards and signed firmware will help against cyber-attacks, the officials said.

Dell EMC will use services to help drive adoption of the new systems. The company’s IT Transformation Workshop enables Dell EMC consultants to work with customers as they look to modernize their data centers, while ProDeploy Enterprise Suite offers businesses the resources to accelerate their adoption faster than what they could through their own capabilities. The ProSupport Enterprise Suite provides services that are integrated with the upcoming servers’ management and automation features.