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[SMART]DC Data Center Manager: The Brains Behind the Next Generation of Data Center Infrastructure

Chloe Shi 0

Today, AMAX launched its eagerly anticipated [SMART]DC Data Center Manager, a robust DCIM software appliance that can manage hardware from all major server brands, including OCP (Open Compute) technology through a single pane of glass. With its dynamic features including software-defined policies and advanced analytics, [SMART]DC is the key to a highly efficient, modern data center design, giving enterprises the ability to run their data centers up to 30% more efficiently for major cost savings.

To understand what led up to the development of [SMART]DC and why we think this product is a game changer, we sat down with Dr. Rene Meyer, Director of Product Development at AMAX.

AMAX: So to start off, what is [SMART]DC?

Dr. Meyer: [SMART]DC is a turnkey out of band management solution for the next generation of energy and very cost efficient, highly scalable, and heterogeneous data centers. It’s deployed as an on-premise server appliance to be plug-and-play solution with minimal installation and setup time, and can manage thousands of servers per appliance. Speaking for the entire AMAX team, we are very excited and proud to announce the official launch of [SMART]DC today, and believe it’s going to solve a lot of data center management pain points that we have been hearing from our customers over the past few years.

AMAX: Can you tell us about some of those pain points?

Dr. Meyer: Certainly. AMAX’s business model has historically revolved around leveraging our strong engineering background to design and manufacture data center and computing solutions to meet specific customer needs. We have focused on white box platforms and integrating leading components which allow us the most design flexibility, while helping our customers bypass the brand tax levied by some of the legacy server providers. In recent years, as compute power and density requirements have sharply increased and as data and data analytics have exploded, we see data centers now scaling at an unprecedented rate. This has made controlling the cost  and operations of these data centers a serious priority for our customers. Particularly among our large to hyperscale customers who have a global footprint, they are rethinking established practices in terms of how to increase IT efficiency and reduce facility overhead.

AMAX: That’s one of the drivers behind why companies are so interested in OCP.

Dr. Meyer: Exactly. A lot of these enterprises are looking at companies like Facebook and Microsoft to see how they have scaled and are controlling the cost and efficiency of their infrastructures, and how they are managing it all. A lot of the focus in recent years has been on achieving cost savings through decreasing the cost of the hardware, whether that’s in moving away from the brand name servers to white box, or looking for more efficient hardware, be it OCP or traditional server architectures with more energy efficient power supplies. And [SMART]DC came from the idea of, beyond just the hardware, how can we help data centers achieve significant cost savings?

AMAX: What about for customers who are standardized on traditional servers, not OCP?

Dr. Meyer: The beauty of [SMART]DC is that we realized the modern data center is not either OCP or traditional servers. It’s not one brand, but a heterogeneous mix of brands and platforms and technologies. Even with all the new technology coming out that offer better flexibility, features, performance and efficiency, as companies transitioned to new technologies, they still needed a way to manage existing and expanding infrastructure under one single pane of glass.

AMAX: You had mentioned companies moving away from legacy hardware to whitebox. Is this one way that [SMART]DC eases that transition?

Dr. Meyer: Absolutely. Transitioning from a Dell or HP to a white box solution is very attractive in terms of reducing OPEX, increasing the flexibility of solution design, and escaping vendor lock-in. But white box solutions lack a management layer comparable to OpenManage or OneView, so it’s a bit like going cold turkey from a manageability standpoint. Not having that “Tier 1 management layer” can prevent some companies from making the switch all together.   [SMART]DC brings Tier 1 management features like virtual KVM, component fault detection, and call home to whitebox platforms, not to mention advanced features such as intelligent power management policies and identifying ghost or over utilized servers which create unnecessary data center cost overhead. So it makes for an easier transition from legacy hardware. Plus, because it’s compatible with major server brands so you can manage all your hardware using a single pane of glass. Many of the management software from different vendors are designed to only manage their own, making it harder to integrate other platforms into your data center.

AMAX: So who would be an ideal profile for a company who would get the most out of [SMART]DC?

Dr. Meyer: Any company with a large or growing data center footprint, who wants to make their data center more cost effective and energy efficient. In particular, is looking to incorporate white box and/or OCP platforms into their data center.

Here is an example: One of our customers is a large financial company.  They were standardized on a legacy hardware provider and wanted to move to a white box solution due to factors such as overall cost, solution flexibility, support and others.  They had major concerns about how to integrate new platforms into their data center without disrupting their day to day operations, and frankly, their administrators had gotten used to a certain ease of living, so to speak, when it came to management and maintenance.  With [SMART]DC those migration pain points were taken care of. [SMART]DC not only provided continuity for them to manage both their legacy hardware as well as their new white box infrastructure, but as an added bonus, they were able to achieve significant cost savings overall by using the software and data analytics to better maximize resource utilization, identify resource inefficiencies, and decrease operational and maintenance overhead through additional automation.

AMAX: So tell me about some of the features that should make customers excited about [SMART]DC.

Dr. Meyer: Really there are so many, but besides the multi platform compatibility and the features geared towards power savings, we are very proud of our easy to use Web GUI with an intuitive and configurable dashboard.

AMAX: Web GUI sounds great, but what about the IT admins used to scripting?

Dr. Meyer: Of course, we knew that a lot of today’s solutions are an “either or” situation when it came to Web GUI or IPMI scripting.  We had different users in mind, and we accommodated them by making every function [SMART]DC function available with the Command Line Interface (CLI). For companies who have already developed an in-house management solution and do not want to reinvent the wheel but also want to benefit from the increasing number of advanced features of [SMART]DC, we enabled easy integration via SOAP API and command line.

AMAX: Can you talk a little more about Virtual KVM?

Dr. Meyer: Yes, this is one of our essential features.  We’ve built in the ability to access servers remotely via laptop or mobile device with the same functionality as though you were sitting in front of it. With so companies operating global data centers, giving admins this remote capability was imperative.

AMAX: How is [SMART]DC deployed?

Dr. Meyer: It is deployed as a turnkey solution via an out of band, on-premise server appliance. These appliances are designed to be plug and play with minimal setup time. Each appliance can manage thousands of servers, and you can easily add licenses as you scale your data center. Of course, if you are buying AMAX servers or integrated racks, if you already have the appliance deployed, AMAX servers come with the licenses, for extra value add.

AMAX: When will [SMART]DC ship?

Dr. Meyer: We launched today and are currently taking pre-orders, with units due to begin shipping in September on a first come first serve basis. If you want a taste of the interface, we are currently offering a test drive.

AMAX: Alright, thanks so much for your time, Dr. Meyer. We at AMAX are very excited about this product launch, and if you have a data center and you like saving money, we think you should be, too! For more information about [SMART]DC, please visit the [SMART]DC webpage or email us at sales@amax.com.

Dr. Rene Meyer is the Director of Product Development at AMAX. He is a technology pioneer with a PhD in Electrical Engineering, and holds over 10 patents.