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Dell targets hyperscale wannabes with new line of bare-bones servers

James Niccolai | Oct. 21, 2015
Dell has released a new family of servers aimed at companies that want some of the cost savings of using custom-built hardware but without having to do as much of the engineering work.

The servers are sold with more basic, "break-fix" warranty options, since most customers know how to fix their servers and need only access to the parts, he said.

The servers are available now; pricing depends on order size and configuration, Dell said.

The company is responding to a wider shift in the server market, in which companies that compute at scale are looking for more options in the hardware they use. Dell has a separate business called DCS that serves the true hyperscale market, and DSS reflects the trend trickling down to smaller players.

Patrick Moorhead, principal at Moor Insight & Strategy, says the type of customer Dell is targeting might employ engineers who previously worked at giants like Facebook and Google. They're versed in minimalist server designs but don't have the resources now to use them in the same way.

"They don't have the thousands of engineers they need to develop the software and hardware to make one of these mega data centers work, so they need a level of consistency and support, and that's what Dell is providing here," Moorhead said.

Dell is competing with Hewlett-Packard, which partnered with low-cost manufacturer Foxconn to build no-frills servers for scale-out data centers. And both Dell and HP are competing with the so-called ODMs, or original design manufacturers -- Taiwanese "white box" makers like Quanta and Compal -- who are selling to hyperscale customers directly and make up the fastest growing piece of the server market.

Some of those designs come out of the Open Compute project, an effort started by Facebook through which hyperscale players collaborate to come up with new hardware designs that fit their needs. 

The DSS servers were just one of the announcements Dell is making at its Dell World conference this week. Among the others:

-- The new SC9000 storage array, which is says offers the industry's lowest cost per gigabyte for SSD storage, at $0.65 including the array, all storage software and three years of Dell Copilot support.  With a capacity of more than 3 petabytes, Dell says the 9000 delivers 40 percent more IOPS than its predecessor. It's available worldwide now.

-- A new version of Dell's Data Protection and Rapid Recovery software, which was designed with cloud recovery in mind. It adds a feature called Rapid Snap for Virtual which Dell says protects VMware environments without agents, and automatically detects and backs up VMs provisioned on an ESXi host. The software will be available later this quarter starting at $1,199, and as a free upgrade to AppAssure license holders.

-- New models for Dells' XC line-up of converged appliances, which combine compute, storage and hypervisors in a pre-integrated system. The XC6320, available now, is its densest XC appliance yet, with four compute nodes supporting up to 44 terabytes of storage in a 2U box. It also introduced its first all-flash XC appliances, the XC630-10F and XC6320-6F, which will go on sale in November.

Dell World gets under way properly on Wednesday morning with a speech from CEO Michael Dell.


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