Q&A: Dell on its servers, AMD and recovery

We take some time with two of Dell's server executives to talk about the company's recent product and strategy launches as well as the state of the market today.

Dell logo

It's that time of year again - the processor companies have launched their latest architectures and now it is time for the hardware vendors to refresh their product lines.

This week was Dell's turn. We attended the launch event of its latest server, storage and service offerings in San Francisco and caught up with two of its server executives - Stori Waugh, server marketing manager, and David Ard, product marketing manager for PowerEdge - to talk more about what it has released and how the industry is doing.

Why have you opted for three Nehalem EX products but only one from AMD in your latest four server products?

David Ard (DA): From our perspective we want to continue to drive choice for our customers. So we have to leverage our partners to make sure we are delivering the solutions that make the most sense with the different workloads they need.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

With some of the innovative opportunities with the Nehalem EX architecture we're delivering some more four socket servers that we hadn't had and differentiated on in the market and on the Magny-Cours side with AMD. It is taking advantage of some of the value AMD is introducing to really go after a piece of the market that we haven't been able to touch before in the four socket entry space.

We will deliver choice for both our customers and really position it around where the workloads are and what our customers needs are.

How do Dell's new servers compare to competitors and what is it Dell is doing differently?

SW: I would look at the new EX platforms [where] you [can make use of] three times the amount of memory. That is an Intel architecture advantage that it is bringing to market so you will see a lot of vendors doing that.

But one of the things that we are doing in our traditional 2U, two socket platform is we are extending memory capabilities in that 2U form factor and four socket performance in that that same box.

We are doing that through what is called our "flexmembridge" technology, a patent pending technology... We can really provide higher levels of performance, especially for virtualised workloads. It is unique in the way that Dell is doing that compared to what you will see some of our competitors doing and what IBM has already announced.

Advertisement - Article continues below

I would [also] say one of the things you should look for next week is who is actually able to provide these products to customers. We think that [Dell's time to market with Intel] is going to be a competitive advantage for us.

Not everybody has launched servers yet with the new Intel and AMD architectures, but do you know where you will sit when it comes to price?

SW: I think overall you are always going to see that Dell owns affordability, from a value tenent if you will, so we are going to be very competitive. I haven't seen competitive pricing yet so it is hard to say, but hands down we are always very competitive, especially with our x86 boxes.

DA: There may be things that our competition does and makes noise about that really at the end of the day our customers have said "that doesn't really matter to me." What [they] want to do is have a solution that is flexible, giving the ability to go at problems in a very affordable way.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Dell is predominantly a hardware vendor, but you are now building products specifically for cloud computing and virtualisation. Is this a protective strategy?

SW: the focus on cloud and virtualisation I think has been driven by customer demand. The whole reason virtualisation became so popular is because [customers] weren't maximising the utilisation out of their servers and by virtualising you max that capacity.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Then they found that the hardware wasn't able to scale to the needs of virtualisation. With this launch, we see what we are able to do from both processing, I/O and memory capability to allow customers to fully realise the benefits of virtualisation.

The cloud products still offer some of the management capabilities that were within the hardware, but some customers want to manage their environments with the application layer and that is what the cloud products offer.

Pure hardware where I just want to be able to plug and play and manage my workload at the application layer, it is just a different model and we want to offer choice for both ways.

DA: I think virtualisation and cloud both bring a lot of risk with customers going to buy fewer servers now they can do more with less hardware and take advantage of sharing resources.

But we also believe that if we can deliver this solution that they can go deploy, yes we may lose a few unit sales up-front but in the long-term we will be able to build a relationship with the customer that will have them coming back to us for their refreshes.

It is about building the longer term relationships and being seen by our customers as being more of an advisor that can help them make the decisions they need to help their business grow.

Advertisement - Article continues below

What is the attitude towards cloud computing when it comes to your customers?

DA: I think obviously we have a full portfolio of products... and launching some that focus around cloud.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

But there is also a huge part of the market that still wants standard server products to take care of the standard workloads that they have in their environment today.

I see that there is some emphasis to go in this direction but I wouldn't say I could qualify that half of our customer base wants to go in that direction. I don't know the numbers, but I would say that we still have a very strong pool for standard products.

This week's product and strategy launch from Dell is at a time where people are just coming out of the recession. With the economy as it stands, do you think people are looking to invest in new products again?

DA: Over the last two years there has not only been a slow down but an absolute stopping of spend in IT. What we are seeing, and if you look at the industry data today, you are starting to see a turn.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We are right at the beginning of what we believe is the transition back into spend from an IT perspective.

We are trying to leverage as much of that as we can to make sure we can be there for our customers. You may have five or six-year-old technology in your environment and you haven't been able to spend, now is the time to spend. And, by the way, look at the economy and scaling you can get now.

We are starting to see [recovery] but it is going to take time.

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/hardware/laptops/354533/dell-xps-13-new-9300-hands-on-review-chasing-perfection
Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/354336/the-it-pro-products-of-the-year-2019-all-the-years-best-hardware
Hardware

The IT Pro Products of the Year 2019: All the year’s best hardware

24 Dec 2019
Visit/hardware/354237/five-signs-that-its-time-to-retire-it-kit
Sponsored

Five signs that it’s time to retire IT kit

29 Nov 2019
Visit/hardware/354193/buy-it-to-grow-not-slow-your-business
Sponsored

Buy IT to grow, not slow, your business

25 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/microsoft-windows/354526/memes-and-viking-funerals-the-internet-reacts-to-the
Microsoft Windows

Memes and Viking funerals: The internet reacts to the death of Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/network-internet/broadband/354530/openreach-offers-free-full-fibre-installation-for-thousands-of
broadband

Openreach offers free full-fibre installation for thousands of homes

14 Jan 2020