We primarily used the solution for the servers. It's a node among many in a multiprocessor, supercomputer environment. It's a very verified application. The customer uses a lesser file system, which means that one file system is shared among the entire installation. You're not going to see that very often in your career unless you're in that business. It's a multi-node, high-performance computing file system. It's Linux based.
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Very scalable, delivers on promises, and offers good terms
Pros and Cons
- "The solution delivers what it promises. You look at the specs and it delivers them."
- "Until they get new technology and density, it would be nice to see four nodes in a one-year package instead of a three-year package."
What is our primary use case?
What is most valuable?
It fit the requirements of the client, that's really all that it was for us. It could deliver the IOPS and the local storage that was required. It could have been anybody else, Lenovo, IBM, HP, etc. We were Dell's number one reseller in Canada and probably worldwide. We got very favorable terms and that also helped with the decision.
What needs improvement?
The only way you could improve it is, for the purpose of HPC installations, is IOPS and the only way to improve it is to get a more powerful machine to deliver more IOPS. Basically, you need more CPUs and you need more RAM and you need a faster backbone. We were running on 100 gigabits Infiniband.
Until they get new technology and density, it would be nice to see four nodes in a one-year package instead of a three-year package.
For how long have I used the solution?
I'm recently retired, however, I did work with the solution on one of my last projects which lasted a few months.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The solution delivers what it promises. You look at the specs and it delivers them. If it doesn't deliver you move onto another model.
There's really nothing special about it, and Dell doesn't make servers that are any better than anybody else's. The prime reason we chose it is that it delivers what it promises to deliver in terms of IOPS and the price right for us because when you're a platinum level reseller for a server company, they will give you very favorable terms especially in this time of a pandemic, hardware sales are down across the board for the entire industry.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's very scalable. That's the whole idea. When you want to add more computation power to the platform you just throw in another act of compute nodes and storage.
How are customer service and technical support?
I've never used technical support. Out-of-the-box it works, and if it doesn't, then the client deals with it directly. The equipment is sold to them so they own the serial numbers and they own the service contracts, so if anything went wrong during the installation the client would take care of them, not us.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We've worked with HP, Cisco, Lenovo, and IBM in the past. We always choose the solution that makes the most sense for our clients.
How was the initial setup?
We handed over the complete installation in September. We started in August. It takes time. You're coming into an empty room. You have to have power, you need the AC for the equipment there that has to be moved out. It takes time. The racks were pre-populated in Toronto and shipped to Montreal, and then in Montreal, they were set up and powered. We had liquid cooling and radiators on the rear of the cabinet for the heat.
We've done many of these installations, and it's pretty routine. There's nothing complex about it. The complexity is mostly that there are so many key parts in terms of getting it delivered on-site. There are so many parts from so many different vendors and there are penalties if you don't deliver on time. Nobody wants to pay penalties.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I didn't deal with the pricing, and therefore don't know the exact costs.
However, they would compete with pricing on the market. Even if HP made an equivalent platform, and they do, we wouldn't get good terms. They're all pretty well in the ballpark range in cost and the variation. The list price might be 10%. They know what the competition is doing so they don't want to price themselves, the values, off the list of potential. If I'm looking at servers that deliver so much IOPS and they price themselves out, HP knows what Dell is doing and Dell knows what HP is doing.
What other advice do I have?
My company partners with Dell.
I'm recently retired, however, I did most of the infrastructure, backup storage, and high-performance computing. I was in pre-sales. I was a solution architect. Therefore, I'm not an end-user.
We only used Dell for the servers. We used Seagate for storage. They have hard drives. They've been in the hard drive business for 40 years.
My biggest piece of advice for those considering the solution is to make sure they are delivered on time. When clients are spending $50 million for an installation and you say it's going to be ready September 15th, it better be ready September 15th. One of the main reasons stuff's not ready is because parts are missing. That means you can't deliver a complete solution. If you're missing a box of spare hard drives, they're just spares, they're not preventing the installation, however, they're missing, and therefore you haven't delivered the product.
Overall, I'd rate the product ten out of ten.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner