Customer Inspired Design in the Dell PowerEdge 12th Generation Servers

By now you might have heard Dell talk about how we involved customers in our PowerEdge 12th generation server design – to the tune of approximately 7,700 customer touch points into our new products. That is a lot feedback by almost anyone’s standards, but keeping sight of what the customers care most about has always been paramount to us. Our business was founded on the premise that customers should be able to purchase what they want – and I’m proud to live and breathe that philosophy and focus. Granted, we’ve transformed with the times, but before we ever begin mapping our design plans, we research what customers value most, then prioritize our plans so they adhere to those values. Dell doesn’t get much done if we can’t empower our customers to do more, focus on their business, and operate efficiently 24×7.

How did customers inspire Dell’s 12th generation servers?
First and foremost, customers sought new ways to do more in an ever demanding data-driven world. They told us they saw no end in sight to an ever-shrinking resource pool of time and money – paired with an increasing set of business expectations. IT administrators were faced with having to “do more with less” or “be creative with what they had; faster, safer, and reliably” – while enabling mobile workforces who need access to their data to make decisions on the fly. Administrators wanted flexibility in management of the servers so they could deploy, manage, update and monitor from anywhere. IT leaders wanted to balance the objective of delivering shareholder value with a more streamlined budget with the goal of unlocking business growth. They also wanted smoother integration for a better overall experience. Armed with data from thousands of interviews, we segmented the feedback based on customer type and capability, and got to work on the design of a portfolio of servers to address their diverse needs. Customers knew how they wanted to run their businesses; so we designed the hardware to frame the infrastructure and let the systems management enable the customer’s success.

Change for the sake of change – no more
Our research showed we’ve learned a lot over time; and that we best keep things that customers liked most and had been developed in prior generations. Things like our iDRAC with Lifecycle controller were actually featured in our 11th generation PowerEdge servers; we developed an easy to use licensing path, so customers can migrate from the Express to Enterprise editions with a simple click of a mouse. No more server downtime to swap out parts–simply upgrade online. We added remote monitoring to our already easy to use OpenManage Systems Management suite so you can tell what is happening inside a server from wherever you are. And we kept the same high quality materials internal to the servers to ensure the success customers appreciated in the past would be integrated into the future.

What new features will customers identify?
More memory, greater I/O flexibility and room for growth, and redundant hypervisors delivered in dense form factors are the key items customers requested to virtualize more applications and consolidate data within a server – saving power and space. Customers have already begun to appreciate that Dell now gives them the choice of network infrastructures with our new Select Network Adapter. Even within an organization, some workgroups might require 10Gbps throughput, while others need only 1Gb – the Select Network Adapter lets you choose which is best for your situation. Likewise, a full complement of drive form factors are available, from the traditional rotational drives to new PCIe Flash Device technology that actually lets you access ultra-fast, hot-pluggable storage for the most demanding OLTP applications.

Little things matter
Nearly everyone today has environmental concerns. To address that, we rethought data center efficiency from the ground up. We’ve introduced our Fresh Air hardware that is capable of taking in filtered outside air, and can operate virtually anywhere in the world without any mechanical cooling at all. Think about those energy savings! And, for those who use servers in nontraditional places, we made sure they operate more quietly than ever before so you can work with less distraction.

Though tempting to ‘be loud and proud” of our own work, I thought I would share with you what the customers have said so far. Here are some examples of how Dell gives customers the Power to Do More with greater efficiency, which drives our customers’ success:

clip_image002“We have just seven IT administrators to manage more than 1,000 virtual and physical servers spread across multiple, geographically disparate facilities. We depend on systems management tools such as Dell OpenManage™ software and the Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) to manage servers remotely around the clock, without having to physically travel to our data centers. We look forward to capitalizing on the integration of Dell OpenManage with VMware® vCenter™ and the new iDRAC7 with Lifecycle Controller capabilities available with the Dell™ PowerEdge™ 12th generation servers to further streamline server management and enable us to focus on more strategic projects.” – Michael Ebeling, Senior Server System Analyst, Moneygram International

clip_image004“One of our primary goals is to reduce IT costs while providing a better user experience to employees. The large onboard storage capacity offered by the new Dell™ PowerEdge™ server we evaluated could help us cut costs by eliminating some of the direct attach storage arrays that we use for server backups and storing Microsoft® Exchange mailboxes. We can cut hardware acquisition costs and reduce power expenses while simultaneously improving IT performance—that’s the biggest win we could hope for.” – W. Drew Duke, IT Manager, Compute and Storage Engineering, Lennox International

“Dell OpenManage has simplified IT administration and works well with the new iDRAC version, which offers agentless monitoring. Anything that streamlines management is always welcome.” –
Hervé Bouvet, Server Infrastructure Manager, Sopra Group

“The university has been implementing server virtualization to reduce the number of physical servers that we need to buy, operate, and maintain, so we can focus more resources on the students and faculty. By refreshing our infrastructure with the new Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers, we could significantly increase the consolidation of virtual machines on each physical host compared with the current systems we use. With fewer physical servers, we can drive down costs and substantially simplify management so we focus more directly on faculty and student needs.” – Paul Campbell, Computer Operations & Systems Analyst, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

We welcome your feedback, too. Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.

About the Author: Brian Payne

Brian Payne leads a team responsible for defining the portfolio strategy as well as the detailed definitions for each offer in the portfolio. In his role, Brian collaborates across the Dell Technologies portfolio inclusive of the full line of Dell EMC infrastructure products as well as the software products such as the VMware Virtual Cloud Foundation portfolio.  Brian and members of his organization regularly engage with customers around the world to better understand their challenges and help them better understand how Dell can help them achieve their goals.  The insights gathered from our customers through these engagements coupled with primary research fuel the innovation engine for new offer development. Brian has over twenty years of product development experience at Dell.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.