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Dell eyeing more supercomputing contracts in Latin America

Bnamericas Published: Friday, October 07, 2022
Dell eyeing more supercomputing contracts in Latin America

Dell Technologies is looking to boost contracts for IT infrastructure projects with high performance computing (HPC, also known as supercomputing) in Latin America.

HPC is growing in the region and the company is focused on securing new – and more robust – contracts with large industries, such as in the oil and gas and utilities sectors, while doubling down on prospecting mid-sized companies in the retail and financial sectors, Raymundo Peixoto, Dell’s LatAm VP of datacenter solutions, told BNamericas.

“We've had a more traditional view of HPC, for academia and research institutes. We continue to work with them, but we’re increasingly bringing solutions to the ‘real’ industry. We’re packaging and selling these high-capacity, parallel processing solutions to other companies,” Peixoto said on the sidelines of the Dell Technologies Forum in São Paulo. 

Supercomputers are machines with processing speeds and memory capacity thousands of times greater than traditional computers. The capacity of one can be greater than that of more than 20mn smartphones or 530,000 home PCs.

They are used for parallel processing and extensive and intensive tasks that require calculations in the order of quadrillions per second.

Generally, supercomputers are employed for scientific research in areas handling large volumes of data, such as medicine, meteorology, geology, geophysics, physics and the oil and gas industry.

According to Peixoto, Dell Technologies has “a few dozen” projects related to supercomputing in Latin America under development in Brazil, Mexico and Chile, in the latter two with applications aimed mainly at scientific uses.

Among the biggest industries, one new contract is with Brazil’s Petrobras, the federal oil company’s CIO, Marcelo Carreras, told the São Paulo event. The US IT giant won a tender to supply supercomputing equipment to the company.

Petrobras has an HPC structure that plays a central role in the company's business strategy. It currently has four active supercomputers: Pégaso, Fênix, Atlas and Dragão. Combined, the four machines deliver an estimated processing capacity of over 80 petaflops.

All the machines were assembled and delivered by French IT company Atos, in most cases using equipment manufactured by Positivo Servers & Solutions, the IT infra unit of Brazilian electronics maker Positivo

“High-performance computing helps us process an extensive mass of geological, geophysical and surface information that helps us discover new areas of exploration without having to drill,” said Carreras in his presentation.

“We have a clear purpose with the technology, which is to push it forward and make it simple within the company,” the CIO said. “Our strategy is all based on multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, with several partners helping us with the adoption of infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and connectivity infrastructure solutions.”

PRIVATE NETWORKS

Dell is also seeking to make gains in private wireless networks and edge computing through its gateways equipment.

“We are running several pilots, with more than one type of industry. This is a new market, one that was limited, on the one hand, by a lack of true processing power, and on the other by a lack of a reliable private network. Flexible, but reliable,” said Peixoto. “5G brings this.”

According to Peixoto, the company is developing private and edge projects in partnership with integrators and software and applications companies, as well as telecommunication operators with licenses for 5G, for the so-called “factory floor.”

Pilots are underway in Latin America, but most of the projects are concentrated in Brazil, given the “size and technological maturity of the Brazilian industrial park.” 

Peixoto did not want to reveal the names of the customers or partners but said Dell intends to make one of the cases public soon.

DATACENTERS

In the datacenter segment more broadly, the company has seen demand ramping up for the modernization of datacenter and storage parks after many of these investments were put on hold by corporates during the pandemic, according to Peixoto.

“There is interesting demand for modernization. And it's a demand that requires customized selling. Lots of sales we are making are in the ‘as-a-service’ model,” said the executive.

Dell's as-a-service product is the Apex solution, currently available in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. 

Through it, the company offers software, service and hardware on demand, based on customers' usage, replicating the cloud computing model. In Brazil, examples of clients are financial company XP and steelmaker Gerdau.

MARKET

Overall, the company has grown “sustainably” despite macroeconomic challenges, such as FX pressure, high interest rates and inflation, as well as problems with the supply of components, Brazil country manager Diego Puerta said.

As others, the company has also seen a slowdown in the sales of personal computers after a boom during the first years of the pandemic.

“Looking back, we have had four very significant quarters for us, not only in Brazil but globally,” Puerta said in a press conference.

Dell has also gradually been expanding production capacity of its factory in Hortolândia, Brazil, according to Puerta, although there are no plans for new factories. Puerta also sees the components crisis continuing throughout 2023.

About 95% of what the plant produces is sold in Brazil, he said. The company's manufacturing is also based on an on-demand model (built-to-order), which, according to the executive, gives Dell a competitive advantage.

Puerta said Dell has a market share of more than 60% in the combined segment of servers, storage and hyperconvergence. About half of Dell's sales are made directly and half through partners and channels.

“Dell is a leader in all market lines. There is no way for a competitor to have a larger manufacturing operation than ours,” he claimed.

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