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…


LinkedIn stitches together single pane of glass with Dell Boomi

September 18, 2013

Here’s the next in my series of interviews from VentureBeat’s CloudBeat, held last week in San Francisco.

After his panel, I got a chance to chat with Andres Bang, head of global sales and operations systems at Linkedin.  I talked to Andres about how they used Dell Boomi to integrate their cloud and on premise applications, along with their CRM platform SalesForce.

Andres told me, “Dell Boomi is doing to the integration industry what SalesForce did to the CRM industry 10 years ago,” hear what else he had to say:

Some of the ground Andres covers:

  • What Andres does and the goals of his group within LinkedIn
  • Looking for a way to expand their SalesForce platform with custom applications
  • Stitching together SalesForce, databases, tools and custom apps with Dell Boomi.  “Integrations which used to take months or years are now talking days or weeks.”
  • What specific apps and data types is LinkedIn using Boomi to connect to SalesForce to provide a “single pane of glass” for sales

More Cloudbeat videos to come

Stay tuned to this blog for interviews with

  • Luke Kanies — Puppet CEO
  • Joe Arnold – CEO of SwiftStack
  • Anand Iyengar – Founder of CloudVelocity

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


OSCON: Talking to Andrew Parker of Puppet labs

August 19, 2013

Im now at the penultimate interview in my video series from OSCON 13.  Today’s installment features Puppet LabsAndrew Parker, team lead for the core platform team.  Check out what Andrew has to say:

Some of the ground Andrew covers

  • What is Puppet and how does it work?
  • DevOps:  How does Puppet help bridge the divide between Dev and Ops?
  • Puppet’s key crowd is hands-on operation types but business and devs play big roles as well.
  • As we get further into a cloudy world, what implications does that have for the Puppet platform?

For more Puppet goodness, check out PuppetConf this week in San Francisco.  If you cant make it there is also a live stream set up.

Extra-Credit reading


OSCON: Mark Hinkle on his keynote + Citrix and Open Source

August 9, 2013

Last month at OSCON, after his keynote “Creating communities of Inclusion,” I caught up with Mark Hinkle, Senior Director of Open Source Solutions at Citrix.  We chatted about about the talk he delivered and what he and Citrix are up to in the world of Open Source.

Some of the ground Mark covers:

  • Getting in ruts in the open source community and how we can refactor
  • Open source is not a zero sum game
  • Open source developers are not always the best at asking for help
  • Mass collaboration like that seen in open source can benefit other industries as well

Some of the ground Mark covers:

Extra-credit reading/viewing:

Pau for now…


Developers + IT ops = cloud innovation

June 27, 2013

A couple weeks ago Dell put on a half-day Cloud summit on BrightTALK.  The event, led out of our services group, was made up of six hour-long presentations that ranged from Cloud security to compliance to HPC.

John Willis, who recently joined Dell via the Enstratius acquisition, and I presented the deck below.  We began with the rise of the developer and their key role in cloud.  From there we talk about how IT can best work with developers to drive innovation, while at the same time maintaining stability (spoiler alert: the answer is DevOps).

If you want to listen to recordings of any of the six presentations that made up the cloud summit, check out the links below:

Extra-Credit reading

Pau for now…


Shuttleworth raves about Dell XPS13 developer edition

May 24, 2013

At the OpenStack summit last month we caught up with Ubuntu and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Below is a quick snippet taken from our chat with Mark where he talks about the Dell XPS 13 developer edition aka Project Sputnik.  Mark dubs the system “freakin’ awesome” and the “environment of choice for anyone doing web or cloud development.”  :)

Extra-credit reading

  • Laptop Week Review: The Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition With Ubuntu – TechCrunch
  •  It just works: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Linux Ultrabook review – Ars Technica

XPS 13 Developer Edition: Specsheet and a short overview

February 20, 2013

On Monday, we announced the new 1080p display for the XPS 13 developer edition and its upcoming availability in Europe and beyond.   To support that launch, here is the official spec sheet as well as a brief presentation on the project and resulting product.

Stay tuned for more news.

Pau for now…


Sputnik has landed! Introducing the Dell XPS 13 Laptop, Developer Edition

November 29, 2012

A little over six months ago we announced a scrappy skunkworks project to pilot a developer solution based on Ubuntu 12.04LTS and our sleek XPS 13 laptop.  Thanks to the amazing feedback and support we have received from the community, today we are announcing the availability of the resulting official product – the Dell XPS 13 laptop, developer edition.

What’s exactly is it?

Here is an overview of the components of this client-to-cloud solution and some key facts:

Hardware: XPS 13 laptop, high-end config

  • I7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Software

Price: $1,549 $1,449* (includes 1 yr ProSupport)

*Updated 11/30/12: the community pointed out we had not priced consistently across our online stores, this has been fixed.  This offering was always intended to be priced less than Windows.

Availability

  • Small office/consumer - U.S.
  • Enterprise – U.S./Canada
  • Outside the US  – early 2013

Community projects: Profile tool and Cloud Launcher

The profile tool and cloud launcher are beta open source projects that we have just kicked off on github.  These projects are quite nascent at this point and we are looking for more people to get involved and help get them going (hint, hint :) ) .

  • Profile Tool: The idea behind the profile tool is to provide access to a library of community created profiles on github, such as Ruby and Android, to quickly set up your development environments and tool chains.
  • Cloud launcher: The cloud launcher enables you to create “microclouds” on your laptop, simulating an at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud.  Today the launcher utilizes Linux Containers to model your environment on your laptop and then uses Juju to jettison that environment to the cloud.  The launcher project on github will allow for community expansion on this concept using different technologies and approaches.

How did we get here?

As I mentioned at the beginning, project Sputnik began as a skunkworks effort.  It was made possible by internal incubation fund designed to bring wacky ideas from around the company to life in order to tap innovation that might be locked up in people’s heads. 

Just weeks after the basic concept was greenlighted by the innovation team, it was publically announced as a pilot project at the Ubuntu developer summit.  The big focus of our efforts, particularly in the beginning, has been to work with Canonical to make sure that we had the appropriate drivers for all functionality including the pesky touchpad.

From the start, the idea was to conduct project Sputnik out in the open, soliciting and leveraging direct input from developers via our Project Sputnik StormSession, comments on this blog, threads on the Sputnik tech center forum as well as the project Sputnik beta program.  In fact it was the tremendous interest in the beta program that convinced us to take Project Sputnik from pilot to product.

I would like to give a special shout out to the beta cosmonauts who signed on.  They were an intrepid lot who were patient and diligent working through issues to help make sure that when we went to production we had a product that developers would want.

Where do we go from here?

The next big thing for XPS 13 developer edition is availability outside the United States.  We are working with teams inside of Dell to make this so as quickly as we can.  The other direction we are looking at potentially expanding is offering a bigger beefier platform for developers.  The XPS 13 is perfect for those who want an ultra light and mobile system but we have heard from a bunch of devs who would also like an offering that was more workstation-like with a bigger screen and more RAM.

Today is a very proud moment for our team, putting together an official Dell offering for developers with their input and suggestions through out the process.  Stay tuned for more to come!

 Pau for now…


MDC in our parking lot, serving up OpenStack & Hadoop

September 11, 2012

Why use valuable internal real estate when you can just set up a Modular Data Center (MDC) in your parking lot?  The point wasn’t lost on the Dell Solution Center team who, with help from our partners Intel, is doing just that here in Round Rock.

The new MDC, which should be online in a few weeks, will host Dell’s OpenStack-Powered Cloud and Apache Hadoop solutions for customers to test drive and build POCs in Dell Solution Centers around the world.

Here’s the MDC being lowered into place yesterday.

Here are some pics I snapped this morning when I went down to get my coffee. (double click on them to see them full sized)

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


OSCON: Mark Shuttleworth’s keynote

July 31, 2012

On the Thursday at OSCON, Ubuntu and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth gave a great  keynote entitled, “Making Magic From Cloud To Client.”   He did the entire keynote and live demo on a project Sputnik laptop (a Dell XPS13 running Ubuntu 12.04LTS)!

Here it is in its entirety:

Some of the ground Mark covers:

  • A fantastic demo on Juju and writing Juju charms showing how you can design a complex topology, deploy that in memory on your laptop and then map the whole shebang to the cloud.
  • How JuJu charms allow for “encapsulation and reuse”
  • The idea of crowdsourcing ops
  • A demo showing how, in realtime, you can map actual running infrastructure from one cloud to the next (in his demo he mapped it from EC2 to an HP cloud)
  • The idea behind Unity and the principle of having one UI that works across phones, tablets, desktops and even TVs.
  • The HUD
  • Project Sputnik going from pilot to product this fall where you will be able to purchase an XPS13 from Dell with Ubuntu preinstalled.

Pau for now…


Talking about Project Sputnik

May 8, 2012

Last Friday Cote and I took a break from the mad rush getting ready for today’s Sputnik announce and grabbed a conference room to record a short video.  Below we discuss the project, how it came about, what its goals are and where it could go from here.

-> Weigh in on Dell IdeaStorm: Project Sputnik

Extra-credit reading


DevOpsDays: Crowbar, where its been and where its going

April 25, 2012

Earlier this month at DevOpsDays here in Austin the Dell Crowbar crew hosted a session and gave a demo.  If you’re not familiar with it, Crowbar is an open source software framework written at Dell.  I grabbed some time with Crowbar architect Rob Hirschfeld and got him to recap how far we’ve come in its less than a year and where he sees us going over the next year.

Extra-credit reading


Gazzang – One of the 10 Austin startups to check out at SXSW

March 10, 2012

Last night we  held our first SXSW meet up at Opal Divines.  Opals is very close to the worldwide headquarters of Gazzang, which last week was named by GigaOm one of The 10 Austin startups you need to meet at SXSW 2012.  Gazzang focuses on securing your data in the cloud via transparent data encryption.

Given the  proximity and the promise of free beer, I was able to twist the arms of four members of their development team and get them to join us.  Here is a quick video featuring Dustin Kirkland, Sergio Pena, Hector Acosta, and Eddie Garcia.

Pau for now…


Talking to the CEO of SugarSync — provider of personalized, multi-device cloud storage

March 6, 2012

Yesterday morning, Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync stopped by for some meetings here at Dell.  SugarSync, if you’re not familiar with it, provides instant and secure online file sync and backup for your PC, Mac, or mobile device.  Before Laura’s first meeting we grabbed a cup of coffee and did a quick video.  Here it is:

Some of the ground Laura covers

  • An intro to SugarSync: what it is and who it’s targeted at
  • 0:43 — How do you get SugarSync and what’s their business model
  • 1:32 — How Laura got involved with the company and how they’ve been doing
  • 2:06 — How does SugarSync differ from something like Dropbox, how does it work and the power of cross-platform solutions
  • 4:09 — What’s next for the company and the product

Extra-credit reading


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