Dell releases new data centre servers

Boasting better performance and support for both 32-bit and 64-bit database applications, Dell Corp. on Wednesday released two new four-processor servers as part of its grid computing strategy.

Project MegaGrid, announced in October 2004, is a partnership between Dell, Oracle Corp., EMC Corp., and Intel Corp. to develop a common grid computing platform, based on standard protocols and optimizing on each other’s platforms.

Dell’s contribution is its PowerEdge Servers, which are two-processor and four-processor Intel Itanium- or Xeon-based machines.

The PowerEdge 6800 and 6850 servers, released yesterday, are both four-processor Intel Xeon-based machines. 6800 has room for up to 12 hard drives, while 6850 is a rack-dense server with up to five hard drives, said Bryan Rusche, server brand manager for Dell Canada in Markham, Ont. They will sell for $ 6,199 and $7,079, respectively.

These new servers are 32 per cent faster and are cheaper than any previous PowerEdge server, said Jeff Clarke, senior vice-president, Product Group, Dell.

Users will have a choice of two configurations: An 8 MB level three cache; or a small level two cash with a faster processor clock speed, Dell said.

Clarke said these servers are targeted at high-end data centres, and at server consolidation and virtualization — key elements of a grid strategy.

Targeting the data centre is a smart strategy, said Michelle Warren, IT industry analyst at Evans Data Corp. in Toronto. She said the data centre is an area where users are really embracing this technology because they are also considering grid in the future.

Dell is a latecomer to the grid market and will have to play catch-up with established players in this space, IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. But Warren thinks Dell has a good shot at competing.

“I think Dell can go up against IBM and Sun but (IBM and Sun) have the advantage of being in the market for a longer,” she said. “Both IBM and Sun have strong reputations for grid, whereas Dell is associated with commodity.”

Dell is very good at aligning itself with companies that are leaders in their respective areas such as EMC Corp., with its storage products and Oracle.

As part of Dell’s partnership with Oracle through MegaGrid, the 6800 and 6850 have been tested for 32-bit configurations of Oracle’s Database 10g and Oracle Database 91 with Real Application Clusters. They have also been tested with Microsoft Corp.’s SQL Server.

Later in 2005, Dell will offer Oracle’s 10g and 10g RAC on 64-bit configurations, and Microsoft SQL Server on Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit and Red Hat Inc.’s Enterprise Linux.

Dell also updated it’s server management software, OpenManage 4.3 to include more tools for updating single servers, and monitoring and updating hardware centrally. Users can also integrate patch management with Microsoft’s SMS 2003, the company said.

Additionally, Dell announced new professional services to help users consolidate and maximize utilization of the PowerEdge 6800 and 6850 servers in the data centre. .