Future Cloud:

Dell’s ARM-based servers might be soon coming to a Cloud near you…

Recently, Dell announced that it is going to be providing a number of ARM-based micro servers to key customers in an effort to compare and contrast them with that of their Intel-based x86 line. In case you don’t know, ARM-based processor chips (and architecture) are commonly found or rather, employed in most consumer-level devices (think: Tablets and Smartphones). Both the ARM and Intel x86 – based chips are designed to save space and consume less power. By allowing their customers (which includes some key cloud computing organizations) to put the ARM servers to the test Dell will not only learn what pitfalls and problems they may need to address, but also get a clear idea of the principal selling points they could market as well.

What’s interesting about the ARM chips is that they actually consume less power than those offered by AMD or Intel (both of which are considered to be leaders in the area of manufacturing server chips). However, if there’s a drawback here it’s that these ARM-based servers can only crunch up to 32 bits of data at any given time; by contrast, AMD and Intel’s chips are 64 bit. While it might be easy to look at this disparity and simply say that less energy consumption equals less processing power, that’s a bit of a misnomer. The 64 bit versions of the ARM servers are slated to hit the markets sometime in 2014.

Given that cloud computing is known to be (arguably) the most efficient form of IT infrastructure in existence, in terms of power consumption, the prospect of saving even more through the use of these ARM-based servers is a bit mind-boggling. Perhaps the bigger trend at work here is one in which all the players involved in manufacturing computing / networking hardware are moving toward increased energy efficiency? Certainly cloud computing has played a vital role in pushing the hardware manufacturers to invest in research that’s aimed at increasing overall energy efficiency.

When you step back and realize that many experts are seeing a big upward trend occurring, in which micro servers will likely replace up to around 50% of current servers over the next 5-10 years, it’s easy to see how, why and where cloud computing could play a role. The simple fact of the matter is that these micro servers are designed to handle large volumes of data; which is perfectly suited to cloud computing, where you might have hundreds of virtualization processes occurring simultaneously. Likewise, micro-servers are by design, more efficient in terms of housing space and are an excellent choice for organizations seeking to buy bulk hardware / servers. Future Cloud

The bottom line is that it is extremely likely that both cloud computing and micro-servers will become increasingly prevalent. What’s more, given that both of these items are highly compatible and oriented toward increasing power consumption efficiency only sweetens the relationship further. This also of course, highlights an important point for organizations which own or employ extensive IT assets and personnel, which is preparedness.

Most organizations are still not taking the right steps toward preparing their IT department for the coming onslaught of cloud-based technology. The easiest and most affordable way to do this is still through online-enabled e-learning programs which offer complete certification and/or training. We’re already seeing dramatic shifts toward more rapid cloud computing adoption occurring in vital business sectors. Once a majority of businesses have begun to build value from their cloud computing operations, their competitors in the market will have to soon follow suit or risk becoming redundant.  

It’s actually quite ingenious when you step back and look at it; Dell is giving its customers a great opportunity while at the same time gathering crucial data which will help the organization make better decisions for the future market (and their shareholders). Apparently, Dell has been investigating and researching the possibilities of ARM-based micro server architecture since 2010, and has even been reaching out to its so-called “hyperscale” clientele for ideas and “wish lists”.

According to an official statement from Dell, “the ARM-based server market is approaching an inflection point”*. In other words, Dell apparently feels that now is the time to jump headlong into ARM-based technologies from both a market and technology standpoint. Currently, Dell is waiting to see how this recent move will play out with its customers before ultimately deciding upon whether to take the ARM-based servers to market or not. In other words, if the demand is there, it is more likely that they’re going to push the ARM servers into circulation in several key markets.

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