Dell has shipped 1M webscale servers in five years to arm the cloud

Dell is reporting today (on no less than three corporate blog channels) that the company’s Data Center Solutions unit shipped its 1 millionth server earlier this week. The DCS division, which sells stripped-down, energy-efficient servers by the thousands to hyperscale customers, has been a shining star for Dell over the past few years.

DCS doesn’t sell to just anyone, though. The unit’s banner customer used to be Facebook (although it has since begun building much of its own gear, and claims to be off vendor gear entirely for its newest data center), and others include Microsoft (s msft), (s crm) and eBay (s ebay). In fact, Dell provided the bulk of the web servers for eBay’s Project Mercury data center that I profiled in April. Outside the web space, Dell’s DCS customers include large oil & gas companies and research centers.

Those types of customers are important. As cloud computing and large web sites have shifted server-sales dynamics over the years, fewer customers account for an ever-increasing percentage of server sales. Thanks to Facebook’s Open Compute Project and other efforts, they’re increasingly demanding high-density gear that packs as much power as possible into the most-efficient footprint. In fact, the company claimed in 2011 that its DCS division, combined with its off-the-shelf PowerEdge C line of energy-efficient servers, would be the fourth-largest x86 server vendor in the world if it were spun off from Dell.

To give you a sense just how many servers 1 million is, consider that Google (s goog) runs about a million servers (give or take, if estimates are accurate), while Facebook (s fb) is estimated to be running about 181,000 servers. Dell has produced an infographic putting the number into context in terms of energy savings, as well.

And you can check this post from Dell’s Barton George for a celebratory video, as well as a photo of the napkin on which the whole DCS idea was hatched.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user Oleksiy Mark.