Battlespace Tech

Dell delivers a rugged server for the battlefield

Ruggedized computers are a common sight in armored vehicles on network battlefields. Now server vendors are pitching servers that can withstand the rigors of the battlefield as troops attempt to process and disseminate intelligence in real time.

Among them is Dell, which is promoting its ruggedize PowerEdge server for deployment in military vehicles, ships and aircraft. The server maker said the platform is shock and vibration resistant and comes with optional advanced dust filtration and the ability to operate at high temperatures and altitudes.

That's a far cry from pristine data centers with cooling and ventilation. But server-makers like Dell are looking for new markets as the convergence of data center infrastructure has reduced the number of servers on a rack for many IT applications to a single machine.

Dell said this week it is working with Tracewell Systems,* an Ohio equipment manufacturer, to develop ruggedized servers based on its PowerEdge architecture and Tracewell's ability to pack computing and storage into smaller form factors. Hence, the partners say the can wedge ruggedize servers into vehicles and other military platforms.

Previously, Defense Department agencies designed solutions for their back-office mission needs and then cobbled together costly custom computing products for the field, Dell noted in a blog post this week. The combination of the Dell server architecture and Tracewell's compact form factor means the military could leverage server technology "within any sort of space—constrained, harsh or unusual environment."

The partners also note that the rugged server platform has already been certified against several military and industrial standards.

Meanwhile, on the client side, Dell is pushing a fan-less, ruggedized "Embedded Box PC" that could be deployed everywhere from the battlefield to the shop floor.

The trend toward converged IT infrastructure in data centers and in the cloud is also playing out in the military and aerospace sectors. Dell noted that the ability to integrate multiple IT components into a single, customized and ruggedized server would allow these platforms to be used in military operations that increasingly rely on real-time data and intelligence.

IT vendors have frequently noted that the shift toward converged infrastructure is helping data center operators cope with widening "workload" demands. Dell is hoping to expand those workloads to include real-time intelligence processing and surveying terrain to tell soldiers what's over the next hill.  

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Dell's partner as Treadwell; it is Tracewell.

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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