Digital Transformation – It’s all about the customer

June 2, 2014

Digital transformation may seam like the latest in a long line of marketecture-based high tech concepts but it actually is pretty straight forward.  In a nutshell, digital transformation is about adopting and often combining the digital technologies of Cloud, Mobility, Social Media and Analytics to better serve customers.

More generally, digital transformation, is about extreme customer-centricity and engaging customers digitally at every point throughout the customer life cycle.  And it is key to remaining competitive today.

Big at the Bazaar

A few weeks ago I attended the Bazaarvoice summit here in Austin.  The topic of digital transformation was woven through out the two day event.  My favorite illustration of this was a very cool keynote on the first day demonstrating what a mobile personalized retail experience might like look in the year 2020.

While at the show I grabbed some time with Scott Anderson, SVP of marketing at Bazaarvoice to get his thoughts on digital transformation.  Take a listen:

Some of the ground Scott covers:

  • The customer is in control
  • How does Digital Transformation map to Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud?
  • How would you advise a CEO looking to digitally transform his or her organization?
  • How does digital transformation work in a B2B, vs. B2C, context?

Where Dell plays

Dell Services has been involved with digital transformation for a while.  We consolidated our capabilities and created a dedicated service line to help customers achieve digital transformation. The service line uses a consulting-led approach to help them leverage any/all of these technologies to drive business outcomes and better serve their customers.

As an example, here is one our earlier case studies where we worked with the American Red Cross to help them leverage social media to aid in disaster relief.

Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as I post more about what we are doing in the realm of digital transformation.

Pau for now…


App Think Tank: Cloud vs. hyperscale

May 7, 2014

This is the final video clip from the Dell Services Application think tank held earlier this year.  Today’s clip features the always enlightening and entertaining Jimmy Pike.  Jimmy, who is a Senior Fellow at Dell and was once called the Willy Wonka of servers, was one of the 10 panelists at the Think Tank where we discussed the challenges of the new app-centric world.

In this clip, Jimmy talks about the fundamental differences between “purpose-built hyperscale” and the cloud environments that most organizations use.

As Jimmy points out, when moving to the cloud it is important to first understand your business requirements and what your SLAs need to be.

If you’re interested in hearing what else Jimmy has to say, check out this other clip from the think tank,  The persistently, ubiquitously connected to the network era.

The Think Tank, Sessions one and two

Extra-credit reading (previous videos)

Pau for now…


App Think Tank: Legacy platforms and modern cloud systems

May 2, 2014

Today we conclude the mini-series of videos around the topic of application and software strategy.  Today’s segment features Barry Libenson, SVP and CIO at Safeway talking about legacy platforms vs. modern cloud-based systems like the loyalty platform they have implemented.  Take a listen as Barry talks about the differences between the two.

While it might not make sense to cloud-enable everything, when you’ve got a 20-year old mainframe system like Barry describes you’ll want to look to app modernization and moving to a standard and open architecture.

Stay tuned

Next week is the last topic culled from our App Think Tank: cloud and infrastructure thoughts.  You’ll want to tune in to see how CIOs and tech companies are viewing and thinking about these areas :-)

The Think Tank, Sessions one and two

Extra-credit reading (previous videos)

Pau for now…


App Think Tank: Intel IT turns apps into services

May 1, 2014

Today, Das Kamhout,  IT Principal Engineer at Intel and their lead cloud architect talks about Intel IT’s program to make all of their traditional applications into services.  (This video was taken from the  Application think tank that Dell Services held back in January.)

The world is turning to services.  As Das points out, after you rationalize your application portfolio you want put together a strategy to start modifying at least some of your traditional applications to be services based.

Stay tuned

Tomorrow is the last entry on the topic of software and application strategy.  Safe’s CIO will discuss legacy applications and which you want to modify and which you want to leave alone.

The Think Tank, Sessions one and two

Extra-credit reading (previous videos)

Pau for now…


App Think Tank – Some take aways

February 3, 2014

The week before last Dell Services held a think tank out in Silicon Valley at the venture firm, NEA.  We had 10 panelists representing both old school and new school organizations:  Intel, Safeway, American Cancer Society, Puppet Labs, NGINX, Stormpath, Stanford Business School, 451 Research and TechCrunch (see complete list of participants below).  I had the honor of moderating the panel.

The group discussed the challenges of the new app-centric world as well as how to leverage both the “Four horsemen of IT du jour”: Cloud, Mobile, Social and Big Data, and the “three enablers”: Open Source, DevOps and APIs.

You can see more pictures from the event as well as watch the entire think tank, which ran a bit under three and half hours, here.  Additionally, over the next few days I will be posting blogs around four short video snippets from the event.

  • Video 1:  What do customers expect
  • Video 2:  IT is facing competition for the first time ever
  • Video 3:  The persistently, ubiquitously connected to the network era
  • Video 4:  The web of C level relationships

Some Take-aways

I was really impressed how well the participants gelled as a group, with just the right amount of tension :).  Below are a few of the interesting tidbits I took away (I was surprised how much of the conversation came back to culture)  You can also check out SDNCentral’s summary of the event .

Q: What are the customer expectations of services today?

  • They are personalized and immediate (friction is a killer)
  • They are agile and rapidly improve
  • Available from any device, anywhere and are always on

Q: What big bets are you making?

  • “Open Source all the way” — Barry Libenson, CIO,  Safeway
  • Mobile first, platform agnostic – Jay Ferro – CIO American Cancer Society
  • Hire learners, not vertical experts, we want entrepreneurial problem solvers – Ranga Jayaraman – CIO,  Stanford Business School
  • Everything must be services – Das Kamhout – IT Principal Engineer, Intel
  • Set up a learning culture, that is tolerant of failure – Luke Kanies, Puppet CEO
  • Clean APIs and modularity – Alex Salazar –  CEO, Stormpath

Q: If your son or daughter wanted to be a CIO, what advice would you give them?

  • Be really choosey about the company you work for
  • Learn to entertain opposing ideas and paths
  • Agility, flexibility, adaptability
  • Learn to let go
  • Learn to be a hacker
  • Learn mindfulness

Watch the whole event here.

Participants

  • Barry Libenson-SVP and CIO,  Safeway
  • Jay Ferro – CIO, American Cancer Society
  • Ranga Jayaraman- Associate Dean & CIO,  Stanford GSB
  • Luke Kanies – Founder & CEO, Puppet Labs
  • Alex Salazar – Co-Founder & CEO, Stormpath
  • Alex Williams – Blogger & Journalist, TechCrunch
  • Michael Cote – Research Director, Infrastructure Software at 451 Research
  • Sarah Novotny- Tech Evangelist, NGINX
  • Das Kamhout – IT Principal Engineer, Intel
  • Jimmy Pike – Sr. Fellow and Chief Architect, Dell

Extra-credit reading

  • IT can’t thrive unless CIO’s can change the culture – SDNcentral
  • New Age of Apps” Think Tank to be streamed live –  Barton’s blog

Pau for now…


Introducing Sputnik 3 and its unofficial big brother

November 15, 2013

Sputnik3

Sputnik 3

First, a little background.  Nearly a year ago today we launched the first Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition.  This Ubuntu-based client-to-cloud platform was the result of an internal skunkworks effort, Project Sputnik.  Thanks to strong community input and support the project became a product.

Within a few months of launching the initial XPS 13 Developer Edition (Sputnik 1), we introduced “Sputnik 2” solving for the biggest issue with the first release, monitor resolution.

Today we are announcing the availability of Sputnik 3, the XPS 13 Developer Edition featuring the 4th generation Intel processors. This laptop, which is touch-enabled, will replace the existing XPS 13 Developer Edition.

ubuntu_black-orange_hexAnd since we’re talking about systems and Ubuntu, in response to the continuous requests for a more powerful version of the Developer Edition, we have taken the first steps by doing some testing on the Precision M3800 and posting the results.

This system news is on the back of our announcement earlier this week about the relaunching of the Profile Tool effort and our request for input from you all.

The Sputnik 3 Product specs are as follows:

  • XPS13-DEProcessor: 4th generation Intel i7
  • Display: 13.3″ Full High Definition touch display (1080p)
  • System memory: 8GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD graphics 4440 (HD 5000 in the case of the enterprise version)
  • Hard drive: 256GB SSD drive
  • Standard Service: 1 year Dell ProSupport and onsite service after remote diagnostics
  • Operating system: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Community projects: Cloud launcher and Profile tool (for more info see Tuesday’s update)

Availability of Sputnik 3

Starting today the updated XPS 13 Developer Edition is available in the

Pricing for the system will not increase and will remain $1,549.99

Early next week the Developer Edition will be available in Canada.

For North America, the US and Canada, in addition to the i7 configuration, there will also be an i5/128GB config  that will be available on a build-to-order basis and priced at $1249.99.

By the end of November, the Developer Edition will be available in

[Update 12/20/13: Sputnik 3 now available in Europe]

  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • Switzerland

Europe – Wave 2:  Available in December

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Sweden

Testing Ubuntu on the Precision M3800 mobile workstation

While the XPS 13 has proven to be very popular with developers, since we started

Dell Precision M3800

Dell Precision M3800

project Sputnik there has been a group in the community that has been asking for a “big brother” for the XPS 13 developer edition, i.e. a system with 16GB of RAM that offered a larger screen and more horsepower.

With the above in mind, when Project Sputnik team member Jared Dominguez learned about the sleek new  Precision M3800 that was coming out, he finagled his way into getting a system to do some testing.

You can find Jared’s detailed results here but the net is “For the most part, everything [he] tested works,” the one exception being the SD card reader.   The resourceful Jared then shipped his system to Chris Ball, a buddy of his that maintains the SD/MMC/SDIO subsystem of the Linux kernel, and who graciously agreed to volunteer time debugging the Linux driver for this card reader.  We will keep you updated on the progress.

So while Jared’s testing is not official it should be enough to get most devs going running Ubuntu  on the M3800.  And like the initial project Sputnik offering, if we get enough positive feedback, we might be able to offer it as an official pre-installed offering.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Automating the Cloud: Talking to the Puppet Master

November 7, 2013

In the cloud you can turn on 100s or 1000s of servers at the click of a mouse, but what happens when you want to configure them?  If you do it by hand it will take you months if not longer.  That’s where Puppet comes in, an automation tool that allows you to configure and manage legions of servers.

Back in September, at Venture Beat’s CloudBeat I moderated a session with Stan Hsu of Paypal and Luke Kanies, CEO and Founder of Puppet labs.  During the session Stan talked about how Paypal used Puppet to automate their processes and increase responsiveness to the business.

After the session I grabbed some time with Luke to learn more about Puppet.

As Luke explained,  as we have moved to cloud-scale the need for automation has continued to rise.  With the cloud the rate of change continues to increase and time to value is what you compete on.  As a result, shortening the amount of time between when your developers finish coding and your customers get access to those services is critical.  Anything that lengthens that time is friction and the name of the game is reducing friction and increasing velocity.  As Stan of paypal explained during our session you want to constantly examine your processes for bottle necks and then automate them.

With a tool like Puppet sysadmins can automate processes and move beyond the table stakes of providing a stable and secure environment and become more responsive to the business and ultimately the customer.

Some of the ground Luke covers in the above video:

  • How did Luke get in the automation game and where did the idea for Puppet come from?  How form the start his goal was to make a tool that the vast majority of people could use, not just the gurus.
  • 2:38 How have things changed in the eight and half years since he started Puppet?
  • 4:46 Who are the primary users of Puppet?  Why DevOps is poorly named and why it’s so important for sysadmins and operations.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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