Dell is working closely with Canonical (promoter of Ubuntu Linux) and Cloudera (a Hadoop advocate) to prepare its next-generation ARM servers for so-called "hyperscale" customer environments. Though not available for purchase yet, ARM-based servers from Dell and other PC makers sound promising. The big question: Where is Microsoft and Windows Server amid the expanding ARM-based server discussion?

First, the news: Dell believes ARM-based servers are ideally suited for customers running web front-end and Hadoop environments, "where advantages in performance per dollar and performance per watt are critical."

A small group of Dell Data Center Solutions (DCS) hyperscale customers are already testing Dell's ARM-based servers, which leverage processors from ARM Holdings (NASDAQ: ARMH). Dell has yet to announce any official ship dates for ARM-based servers, but Dell claims the "ARM-based server market is approaching an inflection point, marked by increasing customer interest in testing and developing applications."

As a result, Dell says now is the right time to help build an ecosystem of ARM-focused application developers and operating system providers. (Side note: HP also plans to develop ARM-based servers; The VAR Guy is seeking an update from Hewlett-Packard on those plans.)

Dell's ARM Server Development Strategy

Dell says it is enabling partners and customers to develop ARM server applications in three ways:



  1. Continued delivery of the Dell "Copper" ARM server to select customers and partners.
  2. Delivery of servers to key ecosystem partners such as Canonical (promoter of Ubuntu, a Linux distribution) and Cloudera (promoter of Hadoop solutions for big data), to support their development activities.
  3. Enabling continued software and ecosystem testing and development by providing remote-accessible Copper server clusters deployed in Dell Solution Centers, and through its deep partnership with Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

ARM Servers: Where's Microsoft, Windows Server?

Microsoft back in September 2011 said it had no plans to develop Windows Server for ARM-based servers, although Windows 8 (the client operating system) will support ARM.

The VAR Guy wonders if Microsoft will adjust its views on ARM-based servers. If the new ARM-based server designs prove popular among customers running Linux distributions, surely it will bring Microsoft back to the table to discuss potential Windows Server on ARM-based server designs.

Still, The VAR Guy is getting ahead of himself. Dell isn't even shipping ARM-based servers at moment. Dell has clearly stated that Canonical and Cloudera are the company's early partners on ARM-based servers. Next up, Dell hopes to attract software developers onto those early ARM server designs.