Dell moves on data center infrastructure; intros products, announces partnership targeting energy efficiency, peak performance

March 9, 2009
March 9, 2009 -- Dell says its new PowerEdge rack enclosures are designed to help simplify and manage the data center environment while improving energy efficiency. The company also announced that its data center consulting practice will utilize Future Facilities' 6SigmaDC software suite to design and simulate data centers that maximize space utilization and energy efficiency through the optimal configuration and placement of IT hardware, racks, cabinets and power and cooling equipment.

March 9, 2009 -- Dell has introduced a line of data center infrastructure products designed to help simplify and manage the data center environment while improving energy efficiency. The Dell PowerEdge 4220 and PowerEdge 2420 rack enclosures support the company's servers and storage systems and can be used in data centers, remote offices, wiring closets or on factory floors.

The company contends that: rack design plays a key role in building an efficient and manageable data center; data center racks now incorporate technologies designed to efficiently store, power, cool, manage and secure hardware; these features enable each rack to function as its own small data center. Dell says its rack enclosures are designed to help customers enhance hardware utilization, create effective power and cooling, and reduce server footprints. According to the company, the PowerEdge 4220 and PowerEdge 2420 rack enclosures incorporate the following features:

-- Efficient power and cooling: 80 percent front-and-rear-door perforation lowers the cold air restraint to the server to enhance efficiency. The new racks are deeper than previous Dell racks (1071 mm vs. 1000 mm), so there's more space for hot air to move out of the rack. The racks also feature air dams at the front mounting posts to prevent hot air at the back of the servers from leaking back to the front of the servers, which can increase server inlet air temperatures.

-- Effective power distribution: Flexible rear and side-rack power distribution unit (PDU) options gives IT staff easy access to power outlets within the rack and doesn't take up valuable rack space designated for IT equipment.

-- Simplified cable management: Cable management options such as adjustable cable rings and removable "tail-bars" at the top and bottom of the rack back frame simplify power and cable routing.

-- Strength and security: The PowerEdge 4220 rack has a static load rating of 2,500 pounds and the PowerEdge 2420 has a static load rating of 1,500 pounds. Stabilizer bars to secure the rack to the floor, or 'ganging kits' to bolt adjacent racks to each other are also available.

"Data center racks are no longer just cabinets that house servers and storage – they are an integral part of building a powerful and flexible data center infrastructure to maximize IT productivity," comments Dr. Albert Esser, vice president of data center infrastructure at Dell. "With the launch of our new rack enclosures, businesses of all sizes can best manage their data centers in a cost effective and energy efficient way."

Separately, Dell further announced that its data center consulting practice will utilize Future Facilities' 6SigmaDC software suite to design and simulate data centers that maximize space utilization and energy efficiency through the optimal configuration and placement of IT hardware, racks, cabinets and power and cooling equipment.

The main output of 6SigmaDC is the Virtual Facility, a full and mathematically precise 3-D representation of the data center which facilitates a holistic approach to the design and ongoing thermal and asset management of data center space. The Virtual Facility enables the owner or operator to take a proactive approach to the placement and replacement of equipment within facilities, modeling impacts before any physical deployments are undertaken.

Dell and Future Facilities are the first companies to use the Virtual Facility concept for provisioning computing requirements and ensuring the optimal configuration and placement of equipment. By taking a proactive approach to design, the companies seek to alleviate the need to troubleshoot layout issues after facilities are built or changes have been made. Through their combined efforts, the companies say they expect to save companies capital and operational expenditures through optimal data center designs that help companies improve energy efficiency and avoid the wasteful over-provisioning of space, power and cooling.

Future Facilities' Virtual Facility (VF) is a full 3-dimensional mathematical representation of the physical data center at any point in time. At the design stage it can simulate and validate engineering assumptions such as optimal floor void depths, rack layouts, power distribution, air handler positioning and redundancy assessments. Once in operation, VF provides a full, 3-D inventory of all data center equipment with visualization of temperature distribution and airflow at room and cabinet level. IT departments can then preview future equipment deployment and evaluate the thermal/environmental impact of various deployment scenarios, enabling power, cooling and space constraints to be managed to maximize ROI and minimize risk.

Other features of the application include the following: 6SigmaRoom evaluates data center design during the early and detailed design stages via experimentation with different equipment layouts and configurations; 6SigmaRack analyzes and optimizes rack layouts beyond installation; 6SigmaManager maintains and manages facilities throughout their lifetime; 6SigmaPower assesses the data center power network at any point in time; 6SigmaViewer lets designers share the facility they have created with others such as facilities executives.

Along with the new infrastructure equipment and the partnership with Future Facilities, Dell is also now offering Data Center Optimization Services through its data center consulting practice, including virtualization and storage consulting, data center consolidation and migration and data center design, layout and configuration. The new services help customers improve productivity, energy efficiency and capacity in existing facilities and avoid the significant costs associated with building a new data center. The company says its "Reveal Your Hidden Data Center" strategy focuses on server virtualization and consolidation, decommissioning out-of-use equipment, refreshing legacy systems, finding the optimal data center temperature, utilizing containment and moving cooling closer to IT to help businesses improve productivity and energy efficiency in their existing data centers.

By applying best practices in data center design, layout and configuration, Dell helps customers exploit unused capacity in existing data centers to avoid the significant capital expenditure of building a new data center. The range of the company's Data Center Optimization Services are as follows:

-- Assessment: Dell's Energy Smart Data Center Assessment uses Computational Fluid Dynamics modeling to analyze existing power and cooling infrastructure, find inefficiencies, and provide actionable recommendations that help companies meet computing requirements without exceeding existing power and cooling limitations.

-- Design: Data Center Conceptual Design is a three- to 12-week engagement to optimize an existing facility or design a new data center to meet a company's growing needs. The hands-on work sessions present options for solutions based on priorities, constraints and budget. Deliverables include basis of design, bill of materials, budget estimates and a project schedule.

-- Consolidation: Dell helps customers consolidate facilities and migrate hundreds or thousands of servers and applications to reduce the numbers of data centers they need to run their business.

-- Platform Optimization and Virtualization: Dell designs, plans and implements end-to-end virtualization solutions and automates the physical to virtual migration process so that customers can run fewer servers to save space and power and cooling in their data centers. In addition, Dell also migrates proprietary Unix platforms to open solutions on x86 hardware that allow customers to simplify and save.

-- Storage Consolidation: Dell helps customers right-size and tier their storage infrastructures to reduce cost and complexity.

"Every data center has its own DNA -- no two are alike," comments Hassan Moezzi, CEO of Future Facilities. "Together, Dell and Future Facilities are taking the guesswork out of designing them for efficiency and better energy consumption using computational modeling to layout, test and validate performance and to maximize that performance over time."

"Our consultants will use Future Facilities' tools to design data centers from the 'inside out' and use the power and thermal efficiency of Dell systems to create reliable, energy-efficient, green data centers that enable our customers to compute more and consume less," concludes Tim Webb, director of Dell's Infrastructure Consulting Practice.

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