If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my 29 years of working with computers, it’s that technology advances and changes at exponentially increasing rates over time. I remember when I first started working with OEM customers in 2001, and the biggest issue for us was getting enough ISA expansion slots in a rack dense server. Today my customers’ needs are much more complex, advanced and far reaching than anything I could have imagined in 2001, much less in 1981. While 2009 introduced the appliance and OEM industries to substantially higher performing computers, and ushered in a much wider adoption of 64-bit memory addressing, we still have quite a bit to look forward to in 2010.
In the springtime we are going to see the release of new server CPUs from Intel and AMD. Both will be category changing products providing higher performance, efficiency, and enhanced capabilities unlike anything we’ve seen so far. With these new CPUs we’ll also see change – change in systems, new systems, new lifecycle and transition concerns, and planning issues that must be addressed. Dell will have several programs in place to mitigate these issues.
The introduction of solid state hard drives in 2009 was widely welcomed by the OEM community, but adoption of SSDs did not take off due to price and the immaturity of the technology. However, I anticipate several companies utilizing the newer, more mature SSDs in their appliance and high performance systems in 2010 as the prices come down and a general commoditization of the technology starts to take place. Dell will offer more options in SSDs and performance and reliability data will be more widely available helping designers & engineers better understand the benefits to be had from the new SSDs.
I also expect 10-Gigabit Ethernet to grow in popularity, potentially to the point that having a 10Gig-E option on every network appliance sold by our OEM customers to be common by the end of 2010. Along with 10Gig-E, I imagine the broad availability of converged Ethernet networking to drive prices down for high performance 10Gig Fibre-Channel over Ethernet and improved IP performance to drive raw throughput capabilities of high performance platforms, such as storage appliances, logging and data capture appliances, and video/media servers. Look for new NICs, switching, protocol adoption, and simplified application of the OSI stack to be exciting new trends in 2010.
Also, after nearly a decade of talking about systems management, I am relatively sure we’ll finally see a more significant number of OEM customers start using all the built-in management features of our PowerEdge, PowerVault, Optiplex and Precision products. The benefits of being able to monitor, manage, deploy, change, and control the computer in the field should start to outweigh the complexity of development, time to develop, and long term management of the systems management software. I would anticipate our customers’ field support organizations to benefit from this adoption of management tools and improve their customer experience metrics and lower the support costs.
Along with these three core technologies being more widely adopted, the OEM Solutions Group is looking forward to seeing Dell’s DC Powered 2U Server, long life Precision workstation, and specially designed OptiPlex for embedded applications to take off in 2010. Filling two gaps in our customers’ requirements with these platforms is something we are very proud of, and we hope to see greater successes in our customers’ product sales and reputations.
Let me know what new things you expect to see in 2010 for the OEM appliance and computing space.