Dell Customer Looks to HP for Opteron Servers

Rackspace is looking to broaden the number of vendors it buys from while saving on energy costs.

A longtime Dell customer that had been outspoken in its urging of the computer maker to adopt technology from Advanced Micro Devices is turning to Hewlett-Packard as its source of Opteron-based servers.

The move by Rackspace Managed Hosting, being announced June 5, comes less than a month after Dell CEO Kevin Rollins said the Round Rock, Texas, systems maker will roll out its first AMD-based server by the end of the year.

Lew Moorman, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Rackspace, said the San Antonio, Texas, hosting company is growing rapidly, and that as it gets bigger, it makes sense to expand the number of vendors it deals with.

In addition, Moorman for more than a year has urged Dell to start shipping Opteron systems because of the platforms power efficiencies and reduced heat features, saying Intels processors were falling too far behind in those areas.

When Dell announced May 18 its intention to feature the AMD processor in a four-socket system them year, Moorman indicated it was too late for Rackspace, which had already begun looking for another vendor.

For foreseeable future, Rackspace will buy Intel-based systems from Dell and AMD servers from HP, though the mix could change later depending on such factors as price and performance, Moorman said.

"Weve really been a sole-source buy [with Dell] for years, and going to another vendor is a big change from a technology standpoint," he said. "It was something we needed to do."

Rackspace has about 20,000 servers spread out between six data centers, and is adding 800 to 1,000 servers a month.

About a third of those are Dell PowerEdge servers; the remaining are white box systems powered by Opteron.

Within the next few weeks, ProLiant DL385s from HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will begin being added to the mix. The company also is looking to add additional data centers in the near future.

As the number of servers and facilities has grown, so has the need for greater energy efficiency from the systems.

That is an area that AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., has outpaced Intel in recent years with its Opteron chip, though the latest Xeon processors are designed with better energy efficiency than previous versions.

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo read more about Xeon processors, click here.

Moorman said it seems that Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., is improving in the power consumption and heat generation areas, and that he expects marked improvements in the Xeons over the next six months.

"But were buying a lot of servers [now] and we couldnt wait six months," he said. "Our customers want the best price-to-performance [ratio], and right now the best technology is AMD."

When asked whether Dell had any plans to move up the expected release of the Opteron-based PowerEdge server, Jay Parker, director of worldwide marketing for Dells PowerEdge servers, said that the company had not given any specific date for the release, only that it would be by the end of 2006. He declined to elaborate on a possible timetable.

Parker also said that with the combination of the new Xeon chips from Intel and new offerings from Dell on the horizon, customers would have little reason to make the switch from Intel servers to those with AMD chips.

Moorman said that customers are less concerned with what processors are running in the servers and more interested in the overall cost of the offering.

"Most of our customers dont really care [about the chips]," he said. "What they want is [a good] price-to-performance [ratio]."

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