Dell Unveils New Server, Networking for Virtualized Data Centers

Dell is unveiling the PowerEdge M915, an AMD-powered system aimed at virtualized data centers. In addition, the company is rolling out new networking and storage offerings.

Dell is rolling out a host of server, networking and storage offerings designed to give businesses more tools as they look to increase their virtualization capabilities.

Key among the new products is the PowerEdge M915, which is powered by Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron 6100 Series processors, which offer up to 12 cores. The core count is important to businesses looking to grow their use of virtualization because the more cores there are, the more virtual machines can be hosted on that single physical machine, according to Robert Bradfield, senior product manager for blade marketing at Dell.

"There are a lot of cores," Bradfield said in an interview with eWEEK. "You can get up to 48 cores in a single blade."

That could grow later this year when AMD starts shipping its "Interlagos" Opterons, which will offer up to 16 cores. The PowerEdge M915, which will be available later this month, will be able to run on the Interlagos chips.

The PowerEdge M915, can be bought in two- or four-socket models, and it offers up to 512GB of RAM in its 32 DIMM (dual-in-line memory module) slots and 2 terabytes of storage. It is aimed at either highly virtualized environments or for compute-intensive workloads, such as databases. There are also two SAS or SSD (solid-state disk) hot-swappable drives, and businesses also can get Dell's PowerEdge Failsafe Hypervisor technology, which offers greater failover protection via embedded hypervisors.

Dell has outfitted several servers with AMD's Opteron 6100 "Magny-Cours" chips. In February, the vendor announced the PowerEdge C6145 server, which is powered by the chips and is aimed at the high-performance computing and hyper-scale markets.

In addition, Dell is also incorporating a NIC (network interface card) partitioning technology in its blade systems that are switch-independent, enabling NIC partitioning on the Dell servers using anyone's switch infrastructure, Bradfield said. With the new product, each physical 10 Gigabit Ethernet port can be divided into up to four NICs totaling 10 Gbit, and can be used in both physical and virtual environments.

The switch-independence of the NIC is a key differentiator from those of other vendors, whose NICs tend to require that you also use that vendor's networking switches.

On the networking side, Dell is bringing greater 10GbE and virtualization capabilities to its PowerEdge M1000e chassis via the PowerConnect M8024-k Ethernet blade. Included in the offering is 10GbE networking support, up to 24 ports of 10GbE that is compatible with 1GbE networks, and the Simple Connect mode to streamline switch deployment and ease manageability.

In addition, Dell's PowerConnect W-Series is aimed at wireless connectivity, and includes the PowerConnect W-6000 chassis and controller module for greater mobility, security and centralized management for campuses, up to 2,048 access points and more than 30,000 mobile users. Dell also is promising outdoor connectivity via that W-AP175P Access Point.

Dell's PowerConnect B-Series switch offerings provide 10GbE, Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet connectivity.

In storage, Dell unveiled the DX Object Storage platform for fixed digital content.

The offerings are the latest from Dell as the company continues to grow beyond its origins as a server and PC box maker and into more of a solutions provider role that includes not only data center resources but also services. It's a move some analysts say is beginning to take hold.

"About three years ago, Dell began to sketch for analysts an idea of an enterprise provider that could rival Hewlett-Packard and IBM," Roger Kay, principle analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said in a blog post in Forbes. "A lofty goal without much meat to it. But over the past three years, that story has grown ever more convincing. First of all, it hasn't changed. The vision has only grown more detailed. The number of proof points has multiplied. What was a sketch has been colored in, given texture and specified minutely. Dell still can't go up against the established enterprise players directly in most cases. But it is building a portfolio of capabilities that distinguish it from its rivals, and, more frequently, it is earning a hearing from customers who wouldn't have considered it in the past."