Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, May 18, 2024

Dell’s DSS HPC Business Hits Ground Running 

Since being announced in August, the line of business is growing at 800 percent and just announced new products to serve the expanding number of enterprises seeking advanced scale solutions for big data, cloud, and their transformation to the digital age.

Dell Storage SC9000 with Dell Storage Executive Director Travis Vigil (Source: Dell)

Only months after launching the Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) line of business, Dell's investment in high performance computing for mainstream enterprise applications appears to be paying off.

Since the announcement in August, the division's business has been growing at 800 percent, Jyeh Gan, director of Datacenter Scalable Solutions at Dell, told EnterpriseTech during Dell World. DSS added 50 more customer engagements since August, he said.

"It's a little bit of an untapped market," James Mouton, vice president and general manager of DSS, told EntepriseTech.

Webtech businesses see more competitors, older telecommunications companies feel the onslaught of attacks from cloud and hyperscale businesses, and other enterprises increasingly consider HPC as an alternative for x86 systems to power cloud, big data, and other compute-intensive applications, said Gan.

"You don't want to be left behind," he said. "You want to figure out how to keep up with the other guy."

While HPC solutions have long dominated research and development, engineering, and other vital divisions within the enterprise, their usage has often been isolated from IT and CIOs. But demands for more compute, new tools to support the expanding hunger for analytics, big data, cloud, and the transformation to digitization, organizations increasingly seek alternatives to x86-based servers, DSS executives said. While some CIOs and chief financial officers are less knowledgeable about advance scale solutions, Dell's wide breadth of available products opens doors to informative conversations that often lead to discussions about HPC's potential, said Gan.

A client may initially be thinking of a traditional x86 server but, in talking about the business challenges and opportunities, recognize another Dell solution is more appropriate for both short- and long-term needs, he said. "They say, 'I know it's not about what I have today. How do I make the shift?' That's where being large Dell really works well for them," Gen said. "It needs to be a measured approach to what they want to do and how they want to get there. It helps them take the first step along the journey – or maybe that's where they stay. Or maybe eventually it becomes a hyperscale solution."

Education plays a critical role in the sales process, Mouton said.

"There is so much instantaneous demand. All these things require a really smart, efficient datacenter to deliver the compute resources," he said. "A lot of engagements right now are with teams that have ideas about how they want to do these things. It's a maturity of this whole space as it expands."

Whether interest in HPC to resolve business issues derives from the C-suite or the IT department, Dell typically takes a consultative approach to these prospects, said Mouton. Adding advanced scale systems into enterprise infrastructures involves more than changes in the datacenter, after all; these servers must integrate with existing infrastructure, meet compliance and governance mandates, and be fully secured, among other considerations. If managed internally, enterprises may require training for key IT staff members, added Gan. Others ink support contracts with partners such as Dell, he said.

Dell itself teams up with multiple organizations in the world of HPC, including academic institutions active in the high-end scale of HPC, said Onur Celebioglu, engineering director for HPC Solutions at Dell.

"We want to focus on how to tune the system, how to configure the system, how to design the right system. We want to right-size the systems for the applications in mind," he said. "We also realize that’s not possible to do that all by ourselves because HPC is a fast-growing market and a lot of innovation is coming from many educational institutions."

New Market, New Products

However, Dell has developed its own set of product innovations. During Dell World, the vendor unveiled the first products in its DSS family, alluded to during EnterpriseTech's interview with Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, vice president and general manager, Servers at Dell, earlier this month.

DSS 1500, 1510, and 2500 (Source: Dell)

DSS 1500, 1510, and 2500 (Source: Dell)

The Dell DSS7000, said to be the industry's densest storage server, is based on the DCS X490 and can provide up to 720 terabytes of storage in one 4U chassis. It includes up to 90 hot-serviceable 3.5-inch drives and two 2-socket server nodes designed to give cloud builders a low dollar-per-gigabyte cost for object and block storage, according to Dell.

In addition, Dell unveiled the DSS 1500, DSS 1510, and DSS 2500 – new 1U and 2U servers that provide flexible storage and IO options, standard baseboard management, BMC controller systems management, and today's Intel Xeon processors.

To complement these new servers, Dell took the wraps off the Dell Storage SC9000, featuring two active controllers per array, 2U chassis, Dell Storage Center 6.7 or greater operating system, dual 3.2GHz, 8-core Intel processors per controller, 128GB or 256GB per controller (for 256GB or 512GB total per array), and the ability to support application acceleration via Dell Fluid Cache for SAN integration, including snapshot protection for cache data and unified management, Dell said.

Two Dell Storage SC9000 (Firewheel) storage controllers stacked on top of one another, shown with bezels.

Two Dell Storage SC9000 (Firewheel) storage controllers stacked on top of one another, shown with bezels.

Two Dell Storage SC9000 (Firewheel) storage controllers stacked on top of one another, shown with bezels.

Based on the 13th generation of Dell's PowerEdge server, the SC9000 provides all-flash and hybrid flash options to deliver 40 percent more IOPS, according to Dell. Architected for demanding large-scale workloads, it supports more than 3 petabytes of raw capacity per array and enterprises can scale it out further via federated multi-array configurations that use seamless volume movement between themselves, Dell said.

To further support HPC datacenter customers, Dell rolled out Dell Storage Center 6.7 array software, crafted to enhance support for private clouds and mission critical applications. Enhancements include Live Volume auto-failover designed to eliminate workload downtime in disaster recovery scenarios, plus integrated host-side data protection for Oracle, Microsoft, and VMware environments. The solution's active data-compression capabilities now give enterprises up to 93 percent flash capacity savings and TLC 3D NAND technology for additional cost savings, Dell said.

To round out its datacenter focus, the Austin, Texas-based developer enhanced its Dell Data Protection-Rapid Recovery software that is designed to reduce downtime.

Rapid Snap for Applications technology, found within Rapid Recovery, can encapsulate an application and relevant state in order to provide application and system recovery with aggressive RPOs and near-zero RTOs, according to Dell. With Rapid Snap for Virtual, based on vRanger, enterprises access scalable protection of VMware environments without agents, and can automatically detect and back up virtual machines provisioned on ESXi hosts. Rapid Recovery Repository (R3) includes encryption and client-side deduplication to deliver direct-to-target backups, reducing the dedupe workload for faster snapshots, shorter data transfer times, and bigger scale, the vendor said.

On the software-defined storage front, Dell shared its next iteration of Dell XC Series of Web-scale Converged Appliances, targeted at enterprises that want hyperconverged solutions – a market expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2019, up 60 percent from last year, according to IDC. These devices include the XC6320, which has four compute nodes and supports more than 44 terabytes of storage in a 2U form factor. As a result, the XC6320 curtails datacenter hardware rack space, power, and cooling requirements. The new Dell XC630-10F and XC6320-6F All-Flash Nodes are the developer's first XC Series all-flash appliances, designed to offer a cost-for-performance boost via data-tiering between flash drives types based on actual data usage.

About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.