Dell’s PowerEdge enters its ninth life

TORONTO – A Calgary-based construction company is upgrading to Dell’s latest blade technology in an effort to improve manageability and reduce the amount of physical space required in its data centre.

Graham Group Ltd. ordered 20 Dell PowerEdge 1955 blade servers to replace some of its existing 1855 servers in its data centre.

“Using the traditional tower is not possible,” said Stephen Yip, network administrator, Graham Group. “We needed more computing power in as small a space as possible.”

Dell Thursday announced its ninth-generation PowerEdge servers, including Dell PowerEdge 1950, 2900 and 2950 traditional rack-mounted servers and the Dell PowerEdge 1955 blade server. The new servers are based on Intel’s 5000, codenamed “Dempsey,” and 5100, codenamed “Woodcrest,” chipsets.

The above servers will not be powered by AMD chipsets but a Dell spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that AMD Opteron servers will work its way into Dell’s high-end products by the end of the year. In May, Dell, a longtime Intel-only shop, announced it would add AMD’s Opteron servers to its four-processor models. Earlier this week, IBM also announced that it would do the same for its server line in a bid to better compete with HP, Sun Microsystems and Dell.

With the Intel’s latest chipsets, Dell is promising a 152 per cent greater performance with its ninth-generation server line than the previous one, said Kevin Smith, brand manager, servers, Dell Canada Inc. The PowerEdge servers also reduce power consumption by 25 per cent, giving them a 169 per cent improvement in performance per watt over Dell’s eighth-generation servers.

Graham Group’s Yip, however, pointed out that blade technology consumes more power and requires more cooling than traditional rack-mounted servers.

“The heating that blades generate is quite a bit more than the traditional rack or tower,” he said. “We’ve had to purchase much larger air conditioners and bigger UPS units to handle the extra load.”

Despite the extra cost to cool the new systems, Yip said the main reason his company chose to go with the blades over traditional servers was the manageability aspect, in that having the same number of servers that are identical to each other makes them much more manageable.

“Before we had a variety of different tower and rack servers,” he said. “If we would build a server we’d have to do a ghost image of that server. We’d have to maintain individual ghost images for a variety of servers. Over a long period of time it becomes quite cumbersome management-wise.”

Dell Canada’s Smith said this was one of the key challenges Dell customers identified in their feedback to the company. To counteract this, Dell created a common image so that different platforms have the same image. Dell’s system management software, called Open Manager, is also compatible with other vendors’ software such as Microsoft Operation Manager (SMS MOM) and Novell’s ZenWorks. A feature in Open Manager lets users manage storage and printer boxes in addition to client and server machines.

Dell also announced new disk, tape and management products on Thursday. This includes Dell PowerVault MD1000 with SATAII disk drives and PowerVault ML6030 CM and ML6000 EM tape libraries.

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