Dell Looks to Highlight Role as IT Innovator
Dell also showed off a couple of labs that work with large customers to help craft systems that are best optimized for their workloads. Gan and Shane Kavanaugh, senior principal engineer for data center solutions architecture, talked about the work of the DCS with the hyperscale players. DCS now works with four of the top five search engines in the world and four of the five largest cloud providers. Dell's Evergreen Lab was launched in conjunction with a hyperscale customer, eBay. "A lot of these guys are buying tens of thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of systems from us," Gan said, adding that such customers are looking for systems to run their specific applications. Dell engineers meet with vendors 18 months before the products are shipped to understand their needs, from the chips to storage to networking. Proof-of-concept units are built, input from the customers is taken and recommendations put into the system. The Scalable Solutions group now does similar work for the tier of customers just below the hyperscale organizations in terms of size. It's still a sizable space: where the hyperscale players account for about $5 billion of the annual $40 billion server market, the next tier is about $6.2 billion, Gan said. The work in areas such as the DCS has increased since Dell went private in 2013 following the $25 billion buyout by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners, according to Dell officials.Enterprise workloads are getting so complex that organizations no longer want to have to cobble the systems together themselves, Fashho said. They're looking for vendors like Dell to build tightly integrated solutions that have the necessary components—from servers and storage to networking and software—and that are optimized for the particular applications they're running. Dell engineers also showed off work they're doing in the area of cooling—both air and liquid, such as a tank in which servers and storage can be submerged in liquid chemicals that draw heat away from the machine. The company also does extensive work in determining how the acoustics of a system impact the user experience.
In Dell's Engineered Solutions labs, engineers work with systems handling workloads such as databases, cloud computing and high-performance computing and running such software as Oracle databases. Among the demonstrations being run at the time was SAP HANA in-memory databases, according to Ibrahim Fashho, director of global solutions engineering for engineered solutions and cloud at Dell.