Dell Promotes 'Scale-Out' Vision For Data Centers At Oracle OpenWorld


Dell CEO Michael Dell devoted his Oracle OpenWorld keynote Wednesday to promoting the concept of "scale-out": Using clusters or grids of x86-based servers to handle rapidly increasing IT processing workloads and managing huge volumes of data.

But that's the same market Oracle is now coveting with its Exadata severs and server hardware from its $7.3 billion acquisition of Sun earlier this year. That means the two vendors will increasingly find themselves competing head-to-head for customers with high-performance computing requirements.

Michael Dell
Michael Dell At Oracle OpenWorld

Scaling out is seen as an alternative to "scaling up," which is the use of proprietary symmetric multi-processing servers to handle bigger workloads. "Scale-up is dying off and scaling out is really the way to go in the future," Dell said in his speech. "It's really the future of the data center."

Dell said such capacity would be needed because by 2020 the world will be generating more than 35 zetabytes (one zetabyte is 1.1 trillion gigabytes) of data a year, up from 1.2 zetabytes this year.

Customers are also demanding more custom data center systems, Dell said, and the vendor is developing specialized x86-based systems including a "massive scale-out" rack system code-named "Viking" and the Dell PowerEdge C410x system with 7,000 CPU cores and 16 Teraflops of parallel computing power for computationally-intensive applications.

Dell emphasized that his company and Oracle maintain a close relationship. Both use each other's products. And earlier this week Dell announced an expansion of its Oracle software consulting, implementation and maintenance practice.

Dell said revenue from his company's server, storage and services operations have grown more than 50 percent in the last year. Services alone has become an $8 billion business for the company. Dell said 41 percent of all servers shipped in the U.S. today are Dell and the company has sold 15 million servers in the past 10 years.

The company also continues to invest heavily in developing and acquiring technologies for systems management and data center provisioning, and is developing new tools for system and network virtualization.

Dell also briefly showed off a new 7-inch tablet the device the company is close to debuting.