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January 11, 2010

NEI Joins Forces with Dell on DC-powered Servers Based on the Dell PowerEdge R710 Platform

I’ve been following NEI (Network Engines Inc.) for some time now. A leading provider of application platforms, appliances and deployment services for software developers, OEMs and service providers worldwide, NEI in October 2007 it acquired privately-held Alliance Systems, Inc., one of my favorite companies (and one of the great success stories of the computer telephony era) that produced server appliances and computer infrastructure to support telecom and enterprise communications solutions. Alliance was also run by one of my favorite industry luminaries, Jon Shapiro, who founded Alliance Systems in 1992 when he found himself with 50 Dialogic boards he wanted to sell.

By 1996 Alliance Systems was Computer Telephony magazine’s 1996 Distributor of the Year, an award specifically invented to honor Shapiro’s tremendous achievement. By 2000 the company had relocated to their enormous Plano, Texas, facility, and was enjoying annual sales that had reached $54 million, derived from over 5,000 customers in 65 countries. Soon they became a maker of fault resilient and fault tolerant rackmount computer systems, one that furthered the Alliance’s slogan formulated by Jon Shapiro, “The Solution for All of Your Computer Telephony Needs.” It then founded a division called Alliance Systems Technologies, which specialized in the design and integration of complete, customized computer telephony systems.

As if massive distribution, manufacturing and integration wasn’t enough, Alliance then metamorphosed into a PSTN/Internet infrastructure component provider, producing fault-resilient components for building platforms for CPE, Internet infrastructure, wireless, and SS7 applications.

During CT Expo 2000 in Los Angeles, both Yours Truly and Jon Shapiro got on stage at a $250,000 gala sponsored by Alliance to hand out the “CT Media Olympiad Developers’ Competition” awards, also sponsored by Alliance. First prize was $20,000 or a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. (The first prize, by the way, actually went to two companies, Rockwell Electronic Commerce and Prima—now Elix—for their joint multimedia customer-contact solution.)

And now, NEI is working with Dell to manufacture and co-market a new line of DC-powered servers based on Dell’s PowerEdge R710 platform. NEI worked with Dell OEM Solutions to specify, engineer and test the new DC-powered server.

Incidentally, the use of DC (Direct Current) in data centers instead of AC (Alternative Current) has a growing trend for years, since you can push the performance of a DC machine about 15 more percent before it overheats. However, utilities distribute power as AC, since AC at high voltage travels farther quite easily, but that means that the AC must be converted to DC at a power distribution unit, converted back to AC as it’s distributed to servers in the datacenter, then back again to DC for each individual server. These conversions from AC to DC to AC to DC occurs for all power sent to the IT equipment and results in at least a 10 percent loss in overall power for the datacenter. Many larger centers now have the financial clout to set up fully DC-powered installations, with a single AC to DC conversion.

The NEI and Dell will co-market the new model E-2710 to enterprise and telecom application developers and OEMs worldwide. NEI will be Dell’s exclusive manufacturer of the E-2710 and the leading provider of support and deployment services as well as reverse logistics for this platform. Other terms and conditions of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Dell identified a growing segment of OEMs — including several large telecommunications equipment manufacturers — that require high-quality
server-based technology to run and manage their OEM solution,” says Rick Froehlich, general manager of Dell’s OEM Solutions Global Division in Round Rock, Texas. “We decided to leverage NEI’s expert design and integration capabilities to target this growing industry vertical and produce a highly advanced solution. NEI worked hard to develop the E-2710 and we’re excited to offer OEMs and end-users this DC-optimized version of Dell’s PowerEdge R710. The result is a purpose-built, highly efficient server made for DC-powered environments seeking to deploy green server-based solutions.”

“The Green Power revolution is real and we have every intention to help our business partners remain at the forefront of this movement,” says Greg Shortell, president and CEO, NEI. “I believe our ability to engineer world-class solutions like the E-2710 extends the reach of our partners’ products, allowing them to address new market segments and customer profiles. We focus on high-value design innovation, hardware and software integration, manufacturing and deployment services that mesh well with the value proposition that Dell OEM is trying to bring to market in these types of niche applications.”

The E-2710 features Intel’s® Xeon® 5500 series processor to better scale power usage to the workload and make IT environments more energy efficient.

“The E-2710 is a highly available, open-standard application platform that delivers the speed, computing power and flexibility the market demands for green-compliant data center and carrier-class central office technologies,” says Rusty Cone, senior vice president of sales and marketing, NEI. “The E-2710 can host NEI’s Smart Services to deliver network-ready, lifecycle-managed applications, OS and patch management, streamline support processes, accelerate deployments and gain a real competitive advantage.”

When the E-2710 is Smart Services enabled, IT shops can benefit from the automated health, update and backup capabilities — all of which make it easier to maintain and support the platform throughout its lifecycle.

For more information about the E-2710, visit


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