In an effort to broaden its customer base Dell is now entering previously uncharted territory. Where in the past individuals and organizations could only buy the pieces of their infrastructure one at a time from Dell, there is now a new offering on the table. The new Converged Blade Data Center puts Dell into the arena with new competitors such as Hitachi and the upper tiers IBM.
The Active System 800 is similar in nature to Hitachi’s UCP (Unified Computing Platform), in that it can be ordered pre-configured format or it can be customized to the end user’s needs. This platform leverages the latest in Dell’s arsenal of 12th generation blades mixed with their new Force10 switching product line and EqualLogic PS iSCSI array’s.
Also, with Dell’s purchase of RNA Networks, the ability to pool the integrated flash arrays as a single giant cache accessible by all nodes in a cluster will rolled out to these systems next year. This will the clusters to be snapshotted and backed up as a single storage device.
Another key feature is what dell calls the I/O Aggregator. This allows all of the I/O coming out of the blades and to be pumped up in aggregated form to a top of rack switch. This flattens the network and reduces the number of hops it takes to get from one node to another in a set of racks.
Some of the best uses for a system such as this would be medium to large VDI implementations, private clouds, and other high performance computing situations. This new product line broadens the playing field and gives Dell the ability to compete in more markets. Couple systems such as this with their recent acquisition Wyse (a leading provider of thin client solutions) and you have an amazingly fast system built for virtualizing desktops. I think Dell could corner the desktop visualization market if they could bring Citrix into the fold and do a larger scale VDI in a box.
When one thinks about disk level redundancy, thoughts almost always go to hardware level RAID controllers and their various capabilities. RAID as we know it now was defined in the late 1980’s by researchers at Berkley. The idea behind developing this as a standard was storage virtualization and data protection. RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 are the most commonly used forms and each has its own advantage.
But what if we could get away from relying on these archaic data protection methods? What if there was a new way to protect our data? Windows Server 2012 may provide such an avenue for those willing to give it a chance. While software RAID is normally frowned upon by most admins, Server 2012 provides a viable alternative in its new storage technology called Storage Spaces.
Storage spaces manages all your physical disks at the high level by using pooling. One can implement volumes using methods such as simple, mirroring, and of course parity. These may sound like some of terms used in traditional hardware RAID but they can all be employed at the OS level using an OS integrated tool. This could be a great thing for many admins by saving you money, via the utilization of less expensive disk controllers. I would love to see some Dell administrators out there use this tool with the latest 12th generation servers along with Hyper-V 3.0. Together they could have a huge impact on one’s the bottom line and disk management.
With Microsoft’s server level operating system teetering on the 5 year mark, Windows Server 2012 is now on the market to take its place. Their flagship enterprise offering has some of the most significant changes to its interface and functionality ever. The new “Modern” style interface coupled with the best virtualization package out there could make for quite an impact on you, the customer. Are all the enhancements worth upgrading? Will the ROI be worth the implementation of such a robust upgrade now? I can think of a million more questions like these that could affect the Windows Server user base.
It really boils down to manageability, potential for more advanced virtualization techniques, and hardware capabilities. Dell is leading the charge to give you hardware that maximizes the benefits of Windows Server 2012. Dell’s 12th generation product line leverages the latest in processor and PCI technology to boost overall system throughout. This is in effort to make the most out Windows Server 2012’s built in virtualization component, Hyper-V 3.0. Combining Windows Server 2012’s features and Dell hardware could allow a small business enough potential ROI to legitimize an upgrade project. See the link below for more information on how Dell and Windows Server 2012 will work together for your small to medium sized business.