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Dell Expands Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) Hyperscale Servers

By - Source: Dell

Dell continues to address new market segments and add capabilities with its Dell Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS), which it originally announced in August 2015. This initiative focused on working directly with hyperscale web-service providers, telecommunications service providers, hosting companies, research organizations, and gas and oil applications.

Hyperscale customers are accustomed to dictating the nature of the products they purchase, which often involves stripping out the more advanced features and services of typical branded equipment. Many of the leading hyperscale operators actually go to ODM manufacturers with their own custom OCP (Open Compute Project) designs (which are a significant threat to the traditional enterprise vendors). The ODM/Others category gained significant market penetration over the last year -- often at the expense of the established branded vendors.

However, the server market continues to fragment, and Dell identified a new class of large operators that it terms "sub-hyperscale." These organizations are not quite big enough to classify as hyperscale, but they still operate on a massive scale. The sub-hyperscale market segment offers a $6.6 billion TAM and is growing three times faster than the rest of the server market, with a 14 percent CAGR. Dell's DSS products specifically target this segment, which has the same needs as hyperscale operators, just not the scale.

Dell initially worked with 200+ customers in the initial stages of the DSS product line to bridge the gap between ODM and branded infrastructure, but now it is expanding the DSS product line and offering them as DSS-branded products.

Dell indicated that the customized purpose-built products offer more versatility and scale while simultaneously reducing cost due to the minimalistic server designs, which do not feature such amenities as custom faceplates and software. Other key design tenets include streamlined SKU evolution to offer speedy time-to-market to enable fast adjustments to market trends. The streamlined mantra continues with focused OS support (no N-1 support, limited OSes), standards-based management features and no iDRAC license upgrade options.

Sub-hyperscale operators also require fluid and robust supply chains to respond quickly to their own changing needs, which is a key focus of the DCC-branded product line. Dell will offer the products only in countries where there is a significant interest, and is also offering simplified and prioritized support for DSS customers.  

DSS 7000

Dell designed the DSS 7000 storage server to satisfy the needs of dense hyperscale deployments by offering up to 720 TB of storage in a single 4U chassis. The DSS 7000, which Dell designed for both object and block storage and sorts Intel E5 v3 CPUs, is based off the DCS XA90 server. It features 90 top-loaded hot-swappable 3.5" drive bays, which suggests a chassis that rolls out while remaining operational, and two 2-socket server nodes. Details on this system are slight; but the servers also utilize industry-standard management systems.

DSS 1500, DSS 1510 And DSS 2500

The DSS 1500, 1510 and 2500 come in 1U and 2U flavors and feature Intel E5 v3 series processors. The 1UDSS 1500 slots are the entry-level offering and are designed for front-end web serving and most financial systems cloud applications. They offer two sockets and 16 DDR4 DIMMs.

The 1U 1510 is similar to the 1500, but it steps back to one socket and eight DDR4 DIMMs. The 1510 is for EDA, low-to-midrange dedicated hosting, and some HPC applications. Both the 1500 and 1510 feature four 3.5" cabled drive bays, and either four 3.5" or eight 2.5" hot-plug drive bays.

The DSS 2500 offers a bit more storage heft for more demanding workloads, such as big data and Hadoop, with two sockets and 16 DDR4 slots along with 12 3.5" hot-pluggable drives and two 2.5" internal slots (apparently intended for application-boosting SSDs).

Thoughts

The new DSS product line addresses Dell's customers who are making the transition from traditional IT infrastructure to hyperscale, and the minimalistic feature set provides systems that are essentially a blank canvas. One of the important takeaways is that the DSS products offer the same RAS features found with traditional PowerEdge servers while employing a more value-centric architecture.

The Dell/EMC merger news looms large over all Dell-related news. Dell brings the established x86 heritage that EMC so desperately lacked, and EMC brings the robust line of storage products that significantly enhances Dell's storage portfolio. The merging of their respective server/storage capabilities undoubtedly creates a great union that can offer end-to-end products, but there are significant product overlaps between the two companies.

Dell signaled that the integration of the two companies will take a significant period of time to accomplish, and that it remains committed to supporting all existing product lines in the future. The company cannot comment further due to restrictions involving the proposed merger, but short of EMC finding another suitor in the two-month go-shop period, there will likely be some changes coming to the Dell product lines.

That is not stopping Dell from moving forward with its existing product lines, and the DSS-branded products will be available today in select markets.

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