Walking back the “hype” in hyperscale

Open Compute Summit - Santa Clara, January 16 - 17

As General Manager of Dell’s Data Center Solutions business, I get to live in the hyperscale data center market every day. However, what I enjoy most about working in hyperscale is that there is no shortage of ‘hype’ (pun intended). Let’s revisit a couple of examples from 2012.

For starters, ARM-based servers made their debut with several companies announcing their intentions to enter this market with system on a chip (SOC) solutions for the enterprise. This led some to predict the demise of the x86 server business sometime prior to (but definitely no later than) the Mayan apocalypse. I suppose that, technically, the predication can still claim to be valid.

I also enjoyed some stories about the irrelevance and/or demise of the major server vendors. Apparently a dual-socket, rack-mount server is now available via a DIY kit at your local Radio Shack, and buying a server from someone like Dell, HP, of IBM is for those who don’t really know what they’re doing and/or lack a Philips screwdriver and soldering iron.

In the midst of hyperbole in and around hyperscale, I am glad that Dell remains a voice of reason, and I’m looking forward to the Open Compute Summit this week, when we will get a chance to share some of that with our partners and our customers.

For starters, Dell has been very active in the Open Compute (OCP) community with participation on the Incubation Committee as well as three working groups. At the event this week, we will show where elements of OCP are manifesting themselves in our Dell portfolio. For example, Dell is committed to support the OCP systems management framework, which our PowerEdge-C systems support today. As we move forward and consider non-x86 processors, they will support the OCP systems management framework as well. We believe this ability to provide a uniform systems management experience is a huge step forward in the co-existence of ARM and x86 architectures in the data center.

We’ll also be talking this week about a key milestone in development of ARM-based servers. To date, our focus has been on the enablement of the software ecosystem with the belief that there is long-term value for ARM in the enterprise around a select set of workloads. We’re getting close to the next big step in the development of ARM-based servers, and plan on revealing some of those plans at the event.

Since June of last year we’ve been focused on enabling the software ecosystem with 32-bit ARM servers, and will continue in that effort. We are the point now where we are beginning to have credible discussions with customers around the use of ARM to support their applications. In terms of broad-based adoption, we believe 64-bit is required and we are beginning to invest additional time architecting solutions based upon 64-bit. As an example of that, we have a 64-bit solution running on an FPGA from Applied Micro at the OCP Summit this week.

So, come by Dell’s booth at the OCP Summit this week to see the types of OCP-based solution our customers are seeking or let me know if you have any questions. Dell DCS is built entirely to help hyperscale customers succeed, so watch this space – we’ll continue to be the voice of reason for our customers, staying focused on solution development that adds value.

If you're not there in person, you can keep up with Open Compute Summit developments by checking the #OCPsummit hashtag.

About the Author: Tracy Davis