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Dell announces new server portfolio ahead of Xeon E5 launch

The company says it is not just a PC and server company, but an end-to-end IT company

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Dell has announced a new portfolio of PowerEdge servers based on Intel’s forthcoming Xeon E5 processor, as part of an “end-to-end IT platform” that the company says will help customers manage data better and make faster business decisions.

The portfolio includes blade, rack and tower servers built to run mission-critical business applications. The R820, R720-XD and C6220 all offer high capacity for Big Data applications, while the R620, R720 and M620 are built for virtualisation efficiency.

Dell also unveiled a server designed for SMBs and remote workers – the T620 – which the company described as “library quiet,” because it makes virtually no noise and can be stored in close quarters with staff without disturbing them. Exact specifications and release dates were not disclosed.

All of Dell's new servers support 10GbE networking – building on the company's recent acquisition Force10 Networks – and connect directly with Dell Express Flash hot swappable PCIe solid state disk storage, extending its Fluid Data Architecture. The company says it can now provide ten times more Microsoft SQL Server transactions per second than with HDD storage, and make Oracle database queries 28 times faster.

Dell is also refreshing two EqualLogic storage systems – the PS6110 and the PS4110 series. The PS6110 is Dell's first entry-level array to support 10GbE. It provides 72TB in a single storage array, and groups up to 16 arrays together, offering a total of 1.2 petabytes. The PS4110 supports 36TB in a single array, with two per group.

The company said that these announcements were not just about new servers, but about providing end-to-end performance for its customers.

“Customers are going through refresh cycles and asking whether it makes sense to refresh just the servers when they could deploy a more streamlined, less complex networking infrastructure as well,” said Bryan Jones, executive director of Europe public large enterprise marketing at Dell. “Many are now coming in and saying they want a pre-configured, pre-designed, pre-tested solution, because they want better predictability in cost, and they want better predictability in time to deploy.

“We're not going to a Cisco or HP model that says highly prescribed, rip and replace. What we're saying is you've got two paths – we can help you with best of breed solutions where you do the integration if you have the skill sets, or we can give you some integrated building blocks that you can use in your data centre or in your virtual desktop environment, within your existing frameworks.”

Intel has not yet announced its Xeon E5 processor, based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, but it is expected to launch sometime in the first quarter. One processor in the E5 family, the E5-2600, can reportedly deliver double the performance of Intel's Xeon 5600 server chip based on its prior Westmere architecture.

Meanwhile, HP has already previewed its Xeon E5-based ProLiant Gen8 servers, which will become generally available in March. The servers are said to be able to cut overall maintenance and power costs in data centres while maintaining high server uptimes.

Alongside its hardware announcements, Dell also said it is upgrading its embedded Lifecycle Controller to offer an "agent-free" environment for monitoring, updating and deploying servers. Meanwhile, its OpenManage Power Center can measure server power usage and automatically manage server power consumption.

The company talked about running servers at a higher temperature and using “fresh air” cooling, saving an estimated $3 million (£1.9m) in capital expenditure per megawatt of IT by reducing the need for power-hungry cooling systems. This is in line with Intel's claim that companies can save four percent in energy costs for every 1ºC they turn up the heat.

“There's actually engineering in the product that makes this work,” said Brian Payne, Dell's executive director of server solutions. “There are material choices. It's not just a matter of certifying that our products operate at a higher temperature, there's design components that enable that, so we think it's a core differentiator.”

Dell’s EqualLogic storage arrays and 10GbE solutions are available immediately, and its 12th Generation (12G) PowerEdge Servers will be available in the near future.

The company will also release a number of all-in-one appliance-like devices in Q2, including two desktop virtualisation offerings to help customers simplify PC management, a pre-integrated private-cloud solution called vStart built on Dell's 12G PowerEdge components, and a data warehouse appliance called Quickstart that will leverage Dell's acquisition of Boomi to help mid-market and departmental users organise, access and analyse data.



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