Stephen Rousset – Distinguished Eng., ESI Director of Architecture, Dell EMC

Designed for OPEX Savings: DSS 9000

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.   Steve Jobs   process

When we talk about how we designed the DSS 9000 we are not just talking about how the physical parts go together, but also how it was designed to improve operations in large scale environments. Savings on capital expense (CAPEX) is naturally a top level concern when purchasing new infrastructure, especially in scale-out environments where the savings is multiplied by the hundreds or even thousands of servers. But CAPEX savings is a one-time savings. Operational expense (OPEX) is an equally, if not more important, consideration when upgrading scale-out infrastructure, because the OPEX savings is a recurring savings. It is multiplied not just by the scale of the infrastructure – but also over time.

Because we designed the recently launched DSS 9000 specifically as a rack scale infrastructure, we designed in important operational efficiencies. An earlier blog has discussed the ways in which rack scale management of the DSS 9000 delivers efficiencies. In this blog I will expand on how the DSS 9000 brings more ongoing OPEX savings by being faster and easier to deploy, scale and service.

deployEasy to Deploy
Since the DSS 9000 is targeted for large scale infrastructure installations with 100’s or 1000’s of racks, we specifically designed it so deployment and service in those environments are as easy as possible.  To that end, it is sold pre-integrated as a complete rack scale hardware solution, customized to the specifications of the customer.  Once a customer (working with ESI Solution Architects) has specified the configuration that best suits their workload needs - documented in a System Requirements Document (SRD) - we assemble the entire rack, including open networking choices they may have made and third-party components they may want to integrate. This saves enormous amounts of time for the customer in terms of racking and cabling equipment – and has the additional positive environmental effect of greatly reducing wasteful packaging. (Again, multiplied by tens, hundreds and sometimes even thousands of racks).   

Beyond the expected server level validation which ensures all specified components and commodities (NICs, drives, RAID cards, DIMMs, etc.) are present and functional and all of the BIOS and BMC settings are checked against the customer specifications, we perform a complete rack level validation.  This validation examines cabling, correct server placement in the rack, switch configuration and
infrastructure firmware revisions. At this point we make the corrections or adjustments necessary for individual servers or rack infrastructure to ensure optimal performance.

So, when DSS 9000 racks arrive at a customer’s loading dock, they are ready to be rolled into place and connected into the existing infrastructure.  We also can provide a “manifest” that lists MAC addresses, server commodities data and Dell EMC IDs prior to shipping so network preparation can be done ahead of time to ensure the process of incorporating the new racks into the existing infrastructure is as smooth and fast as possible. Once positioned in the data center the systems should be ready for application software installation and to be deployed as part of the customer’s operation.

Easy to Scale
Scaling the DSS 9000 is easier at both the rack level and within the rack.  As described above, scaling your infrastructure by the rack is as simple as ordering the configuration you want and rolling it from the loading dock to its place in the datacenter.

But the modular design of the DSS 9000 also makes it easy to scale at a more granular level.  In some high growth environments, a rack may be purchased but configured as only partially populated - to leave room for growth. Adding more capacity becomes as simple as sliding new sleds into the vacant blocks and connecting the resident network. This capability allows organizations to scale out deployments with speed and confidence in response to dynamic business needs.

The innovative rack management features of the DSS 9000 also simplify scaling.  When the need to scale arises and preconfigured nodes are added to the rack, the Rack Manager interface makes management of the new nodes consistent… and instantaneous. The newly introduced nodes are automatically inventoried and immediately accessible for management commands. And with dynamic pooling of disaggregated resources, available through the combination of the Redfish management APIs and Intel ™ Rack Scale Design, compute and storage resources can be readily scaled for workloads running on the rack.

serviceEasy to service
One example of a design feature derived from our long history of data center experience is cold aisle serviceability - an efficiency feature that the DSS 9000 shares with the infrastructure of most hyperscale cloud companies.  Cold aisle serviceability simplifies the physical servicing of the rack when all the cabling is located on the front (cold aisle) and when hot swap components are all accessible from that side as well. (See photos.) Productivity is increased and no service person is unnecessarily working in the elevated temperatures of the hot aisle or having to move back and forth for front and rear service needs.  As an added benefit, the delta T temperature in the unoccupied hot aisle can be kept a few degrees higher, allowing for savings on cooling costs.

Customers that do business internationally should also be aware they can rely on the Extreme Scale Infrastructure organization’s worldwide supply chain, manufacturing, deployment and support to deliver a consistent, seamless experience that accelerates time to value and minimizes disruption to their operations.
                                                   
Conclusion
Easy to deploy. Easy to scale. Easy to service.  The holistic design of the DSSS 9000 rack scale infrastructure is squarely based on the hyperscale principles that Dell EMC helped pioneer over the last decade while working with the largest players in the hyperscale arena. Now, with the DSS 9000, other large scale data centers can benefit from the same levels of operational efficiency and savings that they enjoy.   Inquiries about the DSS 9000 and other ESI rack scale solutions can be made at ESI@dell.com .