Customer Interview: AppNexus and the Dell PowerEdge FX2

Today I had a chance to sit down with Tim Smith of AppNexus to talk a little bit about how his company is using Dell solutions to accelerate their business. This is the first in a series of interviews I’ll be conducting over the coming months with customers running Dell Servers solutions. I hope you enjoy the series!  

Ravi Pendekanti: Hi Tim, and welcome to Dell World. Why don’t we start by hearing a little about you and your company.

Tim Smith: Hi Ravi, great to be here. I’m Tim Smith, senior vice president of technical operations at AppNexus. As a bit of background, AppNexus was founded in 2007 and to date we have secured over $200m in funding to disrupt the way Internet advertising is distributed.

We provide a technology platform for online advertising, and what this means in terms of our data center needs is that we process a lot of data – we transact in excess of 30 billion ad impressions and generate more than 50 terabytes of raw data every day. In the course of a 24-hour period where we see more than 100 billion impressions requests we see as many as 2 million of these requests PER SECOND.

RP: That’s tremendous.

TS: In case you are not familiar with the online ad tech market, here’s a quick explanation of what we are most well known for, namely, real time bidding. We run auctions for online advertising spots which are programmatic. Each auction occurs from start to finish in under roughly 150 milliseconds.

Pretty fast! So, from a technology perspective, what is going on in your data center?

We have grown from about 600 servers to well over 7000 servers in 5 years and have had to not only keep up with the growth but also increase efficiency and lower unit costs. We need infrastructure that is powerful enough to handle the traffic while keeping cost in check. Besides server purchase cost, operating cost is dominated by data center space and power.  So we need servers that are physically dense and power efficient.

Yesterday we announced the Dell PowerEdge FX2, a converged infrastructure solution that was designed in large part based on conversations with customers like you. I know you’ve been an early adopter of FX – can you tell us a little bit about how that solution solves your business needs?

When we heard of the Dell FX2 platform it sounded like exactly what we needed so we actively engaged with Dell to become an early adopter.  Specifically the FX allows us to build very dense rack configurations with substantial compute and bandwidth capabilities and without excessive power consumption. Once we got our hands on the systems we were quite pleased to see that Dell has done a great job in balancing features and cost.

Another feature driving us to the FX architecture is modularity. We deal with a number of configurations because of different application requirements, so we have to balance rack density, disk, and CPU.  We are very pleased with the flexibility of the FX and our ability to use a single base hardware platform tunable to specific application sets.

Tim, we’re excited to have you as a customer and to be able to work with you as you grow your business. Thanks for taking the time today, and for visiting with us at Dell World!

Thank you, Ravi. It has been a pleasure.

About the Author: Ravi Pendekanti

Ravi Pendekanti is Senior Vice President of Server Solutions Product Management at Dell, Inc. His organization is responsible for developing and bringing Dell’s flagship line of PowerEdge Servers and Converged Infrastructure systems to market, covering a broad spectrum of global customers from cloud service providers and small businesses to large enterprises and organizations, all running a wide range of workloads. Most recently, Ravi served as the Vice President of the Platform Business Group at Oracle where he looked after GTM activities including Product Marketing and Sales Enablement related to the platform business that included Engineered Systems (Exadata, Exalogic, OVCA and SuperCluster), Servers, Solaris and Networking. With over two decades of extensive global experience in the enterprise and SMB segment in both hardware (servers, storage and networking) and software, Ravi has also held leadership roles at Juniper Networks, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics. He holds a MS in Computer Science and BS in Electrical Engineering.