2018 was the Year of the Server

A year of server stories you can read in 10 minutes. Includes key stats and a list of additional writing, audio, and video from the 72 blogs we published in 2018.

Some hate to look back,
but they are the few.
For those who are battle-scarred,
or those who are new,
this blog’s for you.

Before I start writing my new year’s resolutions, I like to reflect on where I’ve been. It helps me assess if I am on the right path as I prepare for a new beginning. So let’s look back on 2018. A year that IT historians are sure to refer to as the year of the server.

The server industry was on fire in 2018.

Through the first 3 quarters of 2018, the x86 server market grew about 40% year-over-year.[1] That’s unbelievable growth in a relatively mature market. In January, we reported that we captured the #1 position in server units sold to make PowerEdge the world’s bestselling server brand. Later in the year, we solidified our leadership in the server industry, grabbing the top spot in server units and revenue. These were huge milestones, more than 20 years in the making.

We attribute our success to innovative technologies, emerging workloads, and listening to our customers. Customers like Epsilon, a giant in the loyalty marketing space that built a multi-channel messaging platform with PowerEdge R740xd servers – sending a billion customized emails a day. Or Société Générale, who uses PowerEdge servers as part of the global bank’s infrastructure to modernize and automate, while staying in compliance with rapidly changing government regulations.

Thankfully, the server industry wasn’t literally on fire. A zombie apocalypse didn’t happen either. But metaphorically, your server infrastructure should be prepared for both. We’ve got some survival tips for your servers if the world does come to an end…figuratively.

PowerEdge is the bedrock of the modern data center.

The year began with an announcement that the 14th generation of PowerEdge servers would now be the bedrock platform for our leading HCI offerings, including VxRail. Gartner confirmed our leadership in the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Hyper-converged Infrastructure.

Edge computing is exploding and the driving force in new architecture innovation. We added two new one-socket AMD-based servers perfectly suited for the edge. We also released a new two-socket AMD-based server (R7425) with up to 64 cores, ideal for HPC workloads. Got a rough and tough environment where you need compute? The rugged PowerEdge XR2 is marine-certified and can operate in a wide-range of harsh conditions.

Getting to a software-defined data center (SDDC) and becoming more cloud-like just got a lot easier with VMware vSAN and Dell EMC PowerEdge. We released our latest AMD-based servers as vSAN Ready Nodes. We also have vSAN Ready Nodes available for the PowerEdge MX. The cloud is vital to an organization’s strategy. Every company must have the capability to rapidly scale workloads across the private cloud. Rackspace is one of our customers that is helping many on their cloud journey with VMware Private Cloud Everywhere as a Service. This Rackspace solution is built on PowerEdge servers.

We build servers for all sorts of workloads, use cases, and environments, with a dedication to caring for our environment and a commitment to sustainably produced electronics. This commitment benefits our OEM partners, too. Many tech companies use PowerEdge server technology with their own brand. Check out what you can do with your brand on our platforms.

We ended a busy year with the launch of 5 new server platforms. The R740xd2 is built for data-intensive workloads with up to 364TB. That’s up to 500,000 high-definition hours of video. The new R240 and R340 one-socket rack servers can help IT sleep better knowing the office basics like file, print, mail, and collaboration are rock solid. The new T140 and T340 tower servers are quiet and built for small business because they make IT easy.

Workloads are driving infrastructure decisions.

In 2018, data became the new business currency. As companies upgrade their analytics capabilities, we learned why running new applications on old servers is a recipe for trouble. We outlined the top 3 reasons that make the combination of PowerEdge and Windows Server 2016 a powerful force. If you are an early Microsoft adopter, we are ready for you. You can get Windows Server 2019 factory installed on a PowerEdge server and when you do, you can get server OS support through your ProSupport for Software agreement.

New AMD EPYC-based servers offer edge and ROBO customers with fresh new choices for HCI. Combined with the VMware HCI Acceleration Kit, there’s a lower-cost HCI entry point for ROBO and Edge use cases.

Blockchain, Machine Learning, Cryptocurrencies – we covered them all at Dell Technologies World 2018 with practical demonstrations using our PowerEdge servers. We also launched two new 4-socket PowerEdge servers: the R840 and the R940xa – built for data analytics and high computations.

AI is everywhere from healthcare and manufacturing to hospitality. We discovered that most companies are not completely ready for AI. But, there is good news. With some help from Forrester, we put together steps IT leaders can take to prepare for the AI tsunami. Ultimately, CIOs need to take the lead on AI to transform their companies. The advice is to take the time to research, analyze, and develop a strategic plan before deploying AI initiatives. When IT teams lead AI initiatives, the company deploys twice as many AI building blocks, compared with companies where the lines of business lead.11

Intelligent server automation expands.

Automation is a key component to freeing up IT staff time, reducing outages, and speeding time to delivery for new apps and services. We’ve long developed systems management software under the OpenManage brand to deliver more automation. OpenManage Enterprise and iDRAC can automate server management tasks and ultimately enable customers to free up IT resources and increase system uptime. As we like to say…don’t wait, automate.

We gave the OpenManage Essentials console a huge upgrade and renamed it OpenManage Enterprise in 2017. But, we marked the occasion with an OpenManage Enterprise Tech Release download early in 2018. We followed it up with a release of OpenManage Enterprise v3.0 in September with a host of new features including scalability of up to 8,000 devices.

We shared our OpenManage portfolio and strategy with 12 IT Bloggers as part of Tech Field Day 16. After Meltdown, updating the server BIOS became urgent. We walked through how to intelligently automate updates to one or hundreds of servers. We outlined how to combat data center sprawl with OpenManage Enterprise-Modular, the systems management software for the PowerEdge MX.

DTK is going away and being replaced by RACADM. This expands our commitment to intelligent automation with a newer command-line tool that’s more robust. If your into DevOps, the OpenManage Ansible Modules automates provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. It’s open-source and available on the Dell EMC Github repository. We are active in the Redfish forum working on the Redfish standard. Redfish allows customers to enhance manageability through automation, and interface consistency across products, generations, and vendors, while reducing operational complexity. So many options with PowerEdge and OpenManage to automate and control your server infrastructure.

Security is a now a hardware imperative.

Security is not just a problem for networks and software. It’s an issue for hardware. But not every hardware vendor is equal. Some server vendors are security leaders and some are security laggards. Which led us to ask, how important is server security to the purchase of a server? It’s very important! Throughout all the research we did in 2018, security was the one topic that showed up everywhere in the survey data. The big takeaway is this: integrate security deep into the infrastructure and automate as much of this robust security as possible.

It’s solved. Kinetic infrastructure is how you get to full composability.

We introduced the world to PowerEdge MX and the first server platform built on a kinetic infrastructure. The history of how the PowerEdge MX came to be sheds light on the long-term commitment we have when we build modular infrastructure platforms. PowerEdge MX brings the benefits of a modular design but extends the flexibility of configuration down to the individual storage device and, in the future, all the way to memory centric devices (e.g., DRAM, storage-class memory, GPUs, FPGAs). Part of the future path to kinetic goes through Gen-Z, a moniker to describe removing memory from the motherboard, putting it somewhere else, and connecting the CPU to it via wire. Building a device now that can handle future advancements is a huge challenge. But, we are so confident about the design that PowerEdge MX comes with our multi-generational assurance to support 3 generations of compute nodes.

We have moved from the pre-virtualization era, to the virtualization era, and now into the disaggregated era. These changes are key for organizations to fuel explosive growth. The PowerEdge MX can help take your company to the next level. In fact, the most advanced IT departments utilize modular infrastructure for 20% of their compute to run both traditional workloads and transformational workloads. Workloads that run on cloud services, containers, or traditional VMs. If your environment is built on VMware, PowerEdge MX can help simplify it.

Want more?

Our CTO office identified 17 server trends and observations.

Did you know? Key stats embedded in our blogs

  • 87% of businesses who have adopted HCI say that it has made them more agile.[2]
  • IDC predicts that the total amount of data in the “digital universe” will grow to nearly 50 zettabytes (50 trillion gigabytes) by 2020. It’s estimated to more than triple by 2025, growing to 180 zettabytes.[3]
  • Gartner believes that by 2020, an astonishing ~50% of all enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of a traditional centralized data center or cloud environment – up from just 10% today.[4]
  • With analysts forecasting up to 66% annual growth, the world-wide HCI market will exceed $10B in 2021.[5]
  • 71% of companies said they had already implemented AI or were planning to implement AI in the next 12 months.[6]
  • PowerEdge FX using the FC640 server sled easily delivered almost 9.5x higher performance running database workloads in a private cloud. [7]
  • Big data processing tasks in a private cloud showed great benefits, including 36 percent more throughput and 26 percent reduction in time versus a public cloud setup.[8]
  • Managing a private cloud provides savings of up to 34% faster management, enabling IT to configure and deploy faster.[9]
  • Lines of business completely bypass IT departments 15 percent to 20 percent of the time on their AI initiatives. [10]
  • Over half of the companies surveyed expect an ROI up to five times their investment in AI.10
  • 71% of organizations lack server automation, and 61% lack servers with GPUs/FPGAs/purpose-built processors.[11]
  • Almost half of the companies surveyed use a dedicated team responsible for providing server infrastructure security. Nearly 90% of firms have a documented recovery plan.[12]
  • 76% of modernized IT organizations using modular server infrastructures believe those servers are improving ease of management. They also report reducing server administration time by a third, on average.[13]
  • Modernized IT organizations are adopting modular infrastructure at a rate 4x greater than their aging IT counterparts.13
  • 57% of modular server users reported increased scalability benefits to the organization.13
  • Modular servers improved manageability for 50% of surveyed IT organizations.13
  • PowerEdge R740xd running Windows Server 2016 and SQL Server 2017 processed 6.7 times as many orders per minute and lowered average application latencies by 88 percent.[14]
  • 71% of IT organizations surveyed report that a lack of server automation is a key barrier to implementing AI initiatives.15
  • 50% or less of survey respondents say any one of nine server management tasks are more automated than manual.[15]


More reading, watching, and listening extracted from our blogs

[1] According to the IDC tracker, x86 server revenue grew double digits through the first 3 quarters of 2018: Q1: 39% YoY, Q2: 44% YoY, Q3: 41%.
[2] Based on Transform your Business with HCI – a 451 Research Advisory Pathfinder Report
[3] https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21721634-how-it-shaping-up-data-giving-rise-new-economy
[4] Forecast Analysis: Internet of Things — Endpoints, Worldwide, 2017 Update, Dec 2017, Gartner
[5] Gartner Forecast Analysis: Integrated Systems Worldwide, 1Q17 Update
[6] Forrester Data Global Technographics Data & Analytics Survey, 2017.
[7] Principled Technologies report, Update your private cloud and do more work in less space, November 2017, comparison over rack server, http://dellemc.com/FC640
[8] Principled Technologies report, Run big data analytics on-premises and save money, February 2018; http://facts.pt/s4696b
[9] Principled Technologies report, Get advantages of on-premises cloud and use familiar tools, February 2018, http://facts.pt/UpcZP4
[10] A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dell EMC, January 2018.
[11] Source: CIOs Need to Take The Lead on AI For Transformational Outcomes Across The Company
[12] Source: An IDC White Paper, Sponsored by Dell EMC; Nadkarni, Ashish; The Value of a Secure Server Infrastructure.
[13] Source: ESG Research White Paper commissioned by Dell EMC, Insights from Modernized IT: Modular Compute can Have a Big Impact, August 2018
[14] Based on Principled Technologies Report commissioned by Dell EMC, “Serve more online customers with new Dell EMC servers and Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Software”, May 2018, comparing Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd running Microsoft Server 2016 with SQL 2017 standard edition to a R720xd running Microsoft Server 2012 R2 with SQL 2008 R2. Full Report facts.pt/ctNcYN.
[15] Source: Insights From Modernized IT: How To Achieve The Greatest Success As You Automate, Forrester Consulting.

About the Author: Jason Landry

Jason Landry is a Senior Product Marketing Manager. He markets Dell EMC PowerEdge Servers by telling customer stories and creating unique messaging for the PowerEdge family. He writes stories about technology and business with a goal of providing readers with a perspective they have not seen. He has been a part of the tech industry for more than 15 years, starting with a small software company he founded in 2000. He holds a Masters of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. Jason joined Dell in 2017 after departing Ixia Communications where he marketed their test and visibility products. He is an avid follower of business and consumer technology stories, especially ones about game changers who are disrupting an industry with technology. Uber and tastyworks are two of his favorites. He is borderline obsessive about golf and college football. He is married and in the process of adopting a child.