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Dell Refreshes PowerEdge Line for First Time in 3 Years

It's part of an effort to make servers more cloud ready.

If Dell wants to keep being a leading hardware vendor in the cloud age, it needs servers that can keep up with the needs of more demanding infrastructure.

Cloud computing -- whether public, private or hybrid -- puts more strain on the underlying systems than the familiar, traditional datacenter model where everything stayed on-premises. Dell, recognizing that need, has updated its lineup to handle the changing model of computing that can have files, storage, networking and compute anywhere.

At the core of the company's new lineup of datacenter offerings, outlined this week at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas, is an upgraded version of the flagship Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, the first developed by the newly-merged company.

The company kicked off the datacenter portion of the conference with the launch of its PowerEdge 14 G servers (due out this summer) which are tied to the release of Intel's next-generation Xeon processors, code-named "Skylake Purley." It's the first refresh of the PowerEdge server line in three years and, in keeping with any refresh, the new systems offer the typical boosts in feeds and speeds. And while PowerEdge refresh will appeal to anyone looking for the latest servers, the release is also the key component to the entire Dell EMC converged and hyper-converged systems portfolio as well as new purpose-built appliances and engineered systems.

In addition to a new line of tower and rack-based servers, the PowerEdge 14 G will be the core compute platform for the forthcoming Azure Stack system and a new portfolio of datacenter tools, including a new release of its Networker data protection offering and upgrades to the VXRail 4.5, VX Rack and XC Series engineered systems (Windows Server, Linux and VMware, among others). "This is our 14th generation of servers, which is actually the bedrock of the modern datacenter," said David Goulden, president of Dell EMC, during the opening keynote session.

The new PowerEdge 14 G servers will be available for traditional datacenter applications as well as Web-scale, cloud-native workloads. Among the key upgrades that Dell EMC will deliver in the new PowerEdge server line are increased app performance and response times. The company claims the servers will offer a 19x boost in Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) low latency flash storage single-click BIOS tuning that will allow for simplified and faster deployment of CPU-intensive workloads and the ability to choose from a variety of software-defined-storage (SDS) options.

"We knew we had to accelerate the workloads. We had to reduce the latency to make sure we have handled the performance to transform peoples' businesses," said Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, president of the Server Solutions division at Dell EMC. The server's new automatic multi-vectoring cooling allows a greater number of GPU accelerators, which the company claims can increase the number of VDI users by 50 percent.

In addition to the performance boost, company officials are touting a more simplified management environment. The servers will support the new OpenManage Enterprise console and an expanded set of APIs, which Dell EMC said will deliver intelligent automation. The company described the new OpenManage Enterprise as a virtualized enterprise system management console with a simple user interface that supports application plugins and customizable reporting. A new Quick Sync feature offers server configuration and monitoring on mobile devices. It boasts a 4x improvement in systems management performance over the prior version and can offer faster remediation with its ProSupport Plus and Support Assist, which the company claims will reduce the time to resolve failures by up to 90 percent.

Dell EMC has also added some noteworthy new security capabilities embedded in the hardware that offers new defenses. They include SecureBoot, BIOS Recovery, signed firmware and iDRAC RESTful API that conforms to Redfish standards. It also has better protection from unauthorized access control changes, with a new System Lockdown feature and a new System Erase function that ensures all data is wiped from a machine when taken out of commission.

The new PowerEdge servers were part of a number of other key datacenter offerings announced by the company this week. "Our new 14 G servers will be built into our full Dell EMC product portfolio, bringing out of our seventh generation of storage and data protection as well," Goulden said.

The servers will be offered with a variety of the company's new software-defined enterprise storage systems, including a new version of the Dell EMC ScaleIO software-defined storage (SDS) and upgrades to the company's Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) platform. They include the ECS Dedicated Cloud Service for hybrid deployments of ECS, and  ECS.Next, which will offer upgraded data protection and analytics; and its new Project Nautilus  SDS offering, for storing and  streaming IoT data. The servers will also power Dell EMC's new Ready Node portfolio, designed to transition traditional datacenters into cloud-scale infrastructure.

In addition to storage, Dell EMC said the PowerEdge 14 G will power the company's new Open Networking switches, including what the company claims is a top of rack that can offer more than a 2x in-rack throughput speed of traditional 10GbE switches and a unified platform for network switching, as well as a new line for small and midsize organizations.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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