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Dell Readies Hyperscale-Style Infrastructure For Carriers

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

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The vendor’s upcoming DSS 9000 will include compute and storage, built-in networking and shared power and cooling.

Dell officials are preparing to unveil a highly flexible rack-level infrastructure offering that is designed to help carriers and cloud service providers address the rapidly changing demands from the rapid growth of data and emerging trends like the Internet of things and 5G networking.

At the 2016 Mobile World Congress show later this month, Dell will introduce the DSS 9000, a solution from the company’s Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) group that is influenced by hyperscale system designs used by such Web-scale vendors as Google, Facebook and Amazon but aimed at service providers and carriers. The show runs Feb. 22 to 25 in Barcelona, Spain.

The DSS 9000 comes with compute and storage sleds that enable customers to better customize the infrastructure to their particular needs, built-in networking and shared power and cooling. In addition, the system includes management software from Intel’s Rack Scale Architecture (RSA) and Redfish, which includes open management APIs that enable users to create more agile, composable infrastructures at the rack level, according to Stephen Rousset, distinguished engineer and director of architecture for Dell’s ESI unit.

Flexible

dell“We’ve built the DSS 9000 as a disaggregated solution that offers component-level flexibility,” Rousset wrote in a post on the company blog. “At the same time, our design maximizes configuration options while enabling administrators and developers to address and manage the infrastructure as an integrated pool of capabilities and capacities—not as independent servers, arrays, and switches.”

Almost nine years ago, Dell launched the Data Center Solutions (DCS) business to address the growing need for fast, scalable and customized infrastructure offerings optimized for their workloads of the world’s largest data center operators, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Baidu. The solutions are designed not only to run those workloads, but also to be able to be delivered and deployed quickly.

Following on the success of the DCS group, Dell last year announced the Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) unit, aiming at sub-hyperscale organizations that aren’t as large as the hyperscale players, but still need customized and optimized infrastructures that are differentiated from the PowerEdge systems that Dell sells to enterprises. These companies include telecommunications vendors, oil-and-gas firms, Web tech companies, hosting businesses and research groups, among others. Such customers have the same needs as those larger hyperscale players, but lack the same financial and engineering resources.

Still, they run a lot of servers in their data centers and want to be able to tweak the Dell systems so they can run their workloads at optimal levels, according to Dell officials. The scale-out market is growing three times faster—at 14 percent a year—than the traditional x86 server space, representing about a $6 billion market opportunity, they said last year. In 2013, it represented about 17 percent of the overall x86 server market; by 2017, it will account for about 25 percent.

In December, Dell officials created the ESI group to house both the DCS and DSS units.

Stay fresh

rackspaceThe DSS 9000, which is expected to be generally available in the fall, is an example of what Dell is offering to the sub-hyperscale space, officials said. It will deliver an open, agile and efficient infrastructure that takes advantage of a fast and flexible operating model, Rousset wrote.

“Old ideas won’t work—it’s time for something new,” he wrote. “In order to stay competitive, carriers and service providers are moving from legacy systems to next-generation infrastructure, and are being influenced by hyperscale architectures based on open designs. Dell understands this path given our long history of working with the largest cloud giants. … This customer segment has carrier cloud services at the top of the list of strategic interests, is moving from fixed appliances to NFVs [network-functions virtualization] running on x86 hardware, and is showing a preference for hyperscale hardware and rack-scale solutions.”

Dell has made a smart move with its DSS business, according to Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy. When the company began its DCS business, the Googles and Facebooks were working more with OEMs like Dell, but over the past decade, these hyperscale players began doing more hardware and software development in-house. However, there are thousands of large companies that don’t have the financial or technical resources to everything themselves, but also don’t want to buy strictly off-the-shelf products, Moorhead told eWEEK.

At the same time, many of these sub-hyperscale businesses are being run by former executives from the Web-scale companies, and are looking to get the same computing capabilities that they had while at Amazon or eBay.

“For people like telcos, they’re not made for rolling your own,” he said, adding that with the DSS group, “Dell will do this in a way that other OEMs can’t touch.”

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Originally published on eWeek.