Author: Robert Tung, Sr. Consultant, Product Management, Extreme Scale Infrastructure 

This month, Dell EMC Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) group is releasing the latest version of the DSS 9000 – an open, agile and efficient rack scale infrastructure solution.  It’s specifically designed using hyperscale principles to help carriers and service providers accelerate the shift to software-defined data centers, to realize their digital transformation goals, and to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

Carriers and service providers are competing in arenas that are being upended by trends like Big Data Analytics, the Internet of Things, and Edge Computing. In some cases they are directly competing with industry-leading hyperscale cloud pioneers. They need infrastructure that can easily and rapidly scale to answer the demands for compute and storage – and that can be readily managed at the rack and datacenter level.

Scale-out hardware design

One of the major challenges to rapidly growing IT environments is the ability to scale with minimum disruption to business operations. The DSS 9000 is designed to make scaling easy – both at the rack level and within the rack. As a pre-integrated rack solution, DSS 9000 deployment is as simple as rolling the pre-configured rack into place and plugging it in. It is highly flexible and available in multiple heights that can be tailored to meet specific workload needs using modular blocks that can be loaded with sleds of varying widths containing compute and storage resources. This flexible approach allows infrastructure to be easily and rapidly changed or scaled as needed over time.

Flexibility extends to the design of the sleds as well. The DSS 9000 offers three variable-width server sleds: full-width (DSS 9600), half-width (DSS 9620) and third-width (DSS 9630). Each supports two Intel® Scalable Family processors, 16 DDR4 DIMMs, and variable amounts of supported storage. (See sidebar.) Compute-intensive environments can scale up to 96 nodes per rack using the third width sleds.

DSS 9620 half-width server

The DSS 9000 also supports a full width JBOD storage sled that delivers up to twelve 3.5” drives and can be daisy chained to a head node to provide up to 288 TB of additional storage.

Innovative rack management

One of the most unique features of the DSS 9000 is its Rack Manager component. It is designed to provide enhanced rack-level management functions through a single point of control. At its core is an embedded CentOS server powered by an Intel® Atom microprocessor that handles the increasingly sophisticated management tasks that are common in today’s data centers. It is connected to each block in the rack and, through them, to each individual node using a 1Gbit management network that is independent of the data network. It is also connected to the power bays and the cooling fans which are disaggregated from the sleds to improve overall reliability and serviceability.

Using Rack Manager with a Redfish- based Command Language Interface, you can get information from, and manage all of the devices in the rack. This allows you to consolidate rack-wide operations including firmware updates to all devices in the rack or control power and cooling at the block level as well as many other possibilities.

Rack scale management allows you to greatly reduce the time consumed in day-to-day operations across massive infrastructure environments and also reduces the number of management switches involved compared to typical datacenters. 

Open networking… open everything

The DSS 9000 is designed without an embedded fabric in support of an open networking approach.  Data center managers can implement whatever vendor’s networking stack makes the most sense for them. The DSS 9000 supports any standard 19” switch via its Open IT bay capability.

In fact, the Open IT bay capability allows the rack configuration to accommodate any standard 19” server, storage or networking equipment.  The Redfish API compliance also makes it possible for the DSS 9000 to support the rack-wide management of this ancillary third-party gear. Such open technologies and interoperability are part of what led the Open Compute Project (OCP) Foundation to recognize the DSS 9000 as OCP-INSPIRED™.

More choices for workload optimization

The Extreme Scale Infrastructure organization has more than a decade of experience working with customers to deliver tailored, hyperscale-inspired features to optimize their infrastructure for specific workloads. That history of innovation has led us to integrate the latest compute, networking and storage options into the DSS 9000 to allow customers to meet their needs now and into the future.

For more information refer to the DSS 9000 website or email ESI@dell.com.