Talking to the Docker Dudes

September 12, 2013

This morning a group of us here at Dell met with Ben Golub, Jerome Petazzoni and Nick Stinemates of dotCloud, the company behind the wildly popular open source project, Docker, “the Linux container engine.”  They came to sample the great barbecue and to chat about how Docker might potentially work with Project Sputnik, the Crowbar Project and a few other efforts.

Docker, which went live in March already has 150 contributors, 60,000+ downloads and 1000s of applications containerized and uploaded to their registry.   Given the fact that the company only has 18 employees, quite a bit of this work has been done by the passionate community that has formed in the first six months.

Overview and Tech talk

I did two interviews with the gents from Docker, a higher level overview with Ben their CEO and a more technical talk with SRE manager Jerome and Nick, their sales and deployment engineer.  Enjoy!

Some of the ground Ben covers:

  • What is Docker?
  • How it developed out of dotCloud’s PaaS efforts
  • How Ben got involved with the project and his background
  • What are dotCloud’s plans for Docker and who is integrating with it?

Some of the ground Jerome and Nick cover:

  • How long they’ve been involved and what they focus on
  • How Docker works with LXC and how it might work without LXC
  • Ubuntu is recommended but all you need is AUFS support
  • In next release they plan to offer official support beyond Ubuntu
  • Holy DevOps batman, Docker has something to offer Devs, QA Engineers, Continuos  integration and Sys Ops.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Project Sputnik to go from Pilot to Product

July 18, 2012

A couple of weeks ago we announced a Beta program for the four-month old Project Sputnik — an effort to investigate creating a developer focused laptop based on Ubuntu and Dell’s XPS13 laptop.

Since the beta announcement we have received thousands of applications from around the world.  This tremendous response, on top of fantastic amount of input we have received on the Project Sputnik storm session, has convinced us to take this project from pilot to product.

This fall we will be offering an Ubuntu 12.04LTS-based laptop pre-loaded on Dell’s XPS13 laptop.

Going from skunk works to mainstream

Back in the Spring, project Sputnik was the first effort green-lighted by an internal incubation program at Dell.  Thanks to the incubation program we got a little bit of funding and some executive advisers.  This incubation program notwithstanding, project Sputnik  has been a pretty scrappy skunk works effort to date.

The idea behind the incubation program is to harness that scrappiness and inventiveness to explore & validate new ideas & products outside mainstream Dell processes. Thanks to the tremendous amount of support both outside (you, the community!) and inside Dell,  with today’s announcement, we will begin making our transition to an official, “mainstream” Dell product.

  I should also mention, if its not obvious, that we have not been doing the work alone. Canonical  has been “scrappin” right besides us, helping to drive the project and doing a ton of engineering on the software side.

Beta program

As I mentioned at the start we have been completely blown away by the number of applications we have received.  We’re currently working through logistics of how to handle the tons of applications, we’ll notify all applicants soon, and intend to keep that process and the future product aligned with the spirit of the program.

To make sure that we are listening to your ideas, please continue to post any thoughts about what you would like to see in a developer laptop on our Storm session.   If you have an XPS13 running Ubuntu and want to share your experience or report a bug or issue, see our forum on Dell Tech center.

For more information on the program see the Project Sputnik FAQ

Thanks everyone for all the interest and passion, stay tuned as we push forward!

Reference: current solution details

Hardware

The solution is based on the high-end configuration of the Dell XPS13 laptop.

Software

Available now

  • drivers/patches for Hardware enablement
  • basic offering of key tools and utilities

Coming soon

  • Profile tool: a software management tool to go out to a github repository to pull down various developer profiles e.g. javascript, ruby, android.
  • Cloud tool: will allow developers to create “microclouds” on their laptops, simulating a proper, at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud.

Extra-credit reading

  • Press release: Dell Demonstrates Commitment to Open Source Software, Developer Communities
  • Dell Tech Center: Sputnik wiki
  • PC World — Dell’s Ubuntu‬ Laptop Program Enters Beta, ‘Blows Away’ Expectations
  • Initial thoughts on Project Sputnik from O’Reilly’s Mike Hendrickson
  • Transcript from last week’s Sputnik chat on Tech Center

Pau for now…


IDC starts tracking the hyperscale server market

March 26, 2012

In a recent post that highlighted the demise of the midrange  server market, Timothy Prickett Morgan talked about the new server classification that IDC has just started tracking, “Density-optimized”:

These are minimalist server designs that resemble blades in that they have skinny form factors but they take out all the extra stuff that hyperscale Web companies like Google and Amazon don’t want in their infrastructure machines because they have resiliency and scale built into their software stack and have redundant hardware and data throughout their clusters….These density-optimized machines usually put four server nodes in a 2U rack chassis or sometimes up to a dozen nodes in a 4U chassis and have processors, memory, a few disks, and some network ports and nothing else per node.

Source: IDC -- Q3 2011 Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker

Here are the stats that Prickett Morgan calls out (I particularly like the last bullet :-):

  • By IDC’s reckoning these dense servers accounted for $458 million in sales, up 33.8 percent in a global server market that fell by 7.2 percent to $14.2 billion in the quarter.
  • Density optimized machines accounted for 132,876 servers in the quarter, exploding 51.5 percent, against the overall market, which comprised 2.2 million shipments and rose 2 percent.
  • Dell, by the way, owns this segment, with 45.2 percent of the revenue share, followed up by Hewlett-Packard with 15.5 percent of that density-optimized server pie.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


SXSW: Our Saturday night Dev/tech meet up

March 12, 2012

During SXSW Michael Cote and I, on behalf of Dell, organized a series of mini meet-ups focusing on developers, tech and social media folks.  The second event we held was on Saturday on the top level of Speakeasy.  Being Saturday night, this turned out to be the biggest of the three get togethers.

Here is a small sampling of the folks who dropped by (notice the atmospheric lighting, for half of them they were literally lit by candle light):

The Line up

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


The Value of Cloud Computing

January 5, 2012

Before the holidays I posted the first of three videos that Dell and Intel put together around cloud computing.  These videos are part of a larger series around key topics like IT reinvention, the consumerization of IT, social media etc.

This second video features myself, Dell’s VP of Platform marketing Sally Stevens and John Pereira, Intel’s director of data center and hosting.

Some of the ground we cover

  • Cloud as a component of a larger portfolio of compute models
  • Small companies and the power of the cloud (Animoto case study)
  • How much of IT spend goes towards maintenance and how can we lower this
  • Hardware abstraction and the value it brings

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Where Dell plays in the Cloud and how we got there

November 3, 2011

One of the interviews I did at Dell World was a video with IT in Canada.   I did the video with Paul Cooper, Dell’s country manager for Canada.

In the first half of the video I talk about how Dell got into the cloud and where we play in the space.  In the second half Paul talks about the roll the telcos will play in the delivery of cloud services in Canada as well as issues around privacy and data sovereignty.

Check it out.

From the article itself, here’s a great summary of our cloud participation and shows how we have built, bought and partnered along the way:

Dell’s excursion into cloud began with organic development of server and data centre capability in specialized systems to meet the needs of large cloud providers (Facebook, Microsoft Azure and Bing), progressed through modification of these systems for marketing to the “next 1,000”, and shifted to partnership with software makers such as Joyent to develop complete cloud solutions, and with companies such as VMware for the creation of a full service public cloud offering.

Supporting acquisitions along the way include companies with specific capabilities such as SecureWorks, which was purchased to address web security concerns that continue to dog broader cloud adoption, and BOOMI, a specialist in cloud integration, which enables Dell to better service customers who adopt a hybrid cloud approach to sourcing compute resources.

Extra-Credit reading


Cote’s first 10 days at Dell

August 25, 2011

A few weeks ago Michael Cote joined Dell from the excellent analyst firm, Redmonk which focuses on software and developers.  Cote who spent five plus years with Redmonk has joined Dell in our corporate strategy group, focusing on software.  I for one am very glad he’s here and feel that he’s joined at the right time in Dell’s trajectory to make a big impact.

I grabbed some time with him to get his initial thoughts and impressions.  Here are his thoughts both witty and wise.

[Note: So there's no confusion, this Michael Cote is Dell's second Michael Cote.  The first is the the former CEO of SecureWorks which Dell acquired.]

Some of the ground Cote covers:

  • Intro: Man is it hot, Cote’s background
  • (0:34) Why Cote made the move: going to the other side of the fence
  • (1:55) What is his new position and what will he be doing: his cloudy focus
  • (2:44) His first impressions: serious about solutions
  • (5:18) What his big goal is while at Dell

Extra-credit reading:


Dell opens Customer Solutions Center in Austin

July 14, 2011

Back in April, Dell announced that it was making a billion dollar investment to further drive its evolution from a systems to a services company.  Specifically we talked about delivering a raft of new solutions, launching 10 cloud data centers around the world and building out a global network of solutions centers.

The solution centers are customer facing facilities that will act as a “living lab” providing an environment and the support for customers to architect, build and test proof of concepts involving Dell products, services and solutions.  The centers will also support solution integration, technical briefings and validation and ISV certification to meet regional requirements.  Last month the first of these centers were opened in Limerick, Ireland and Shanghai.

This morning the first US solutions center opened at Dell HQ here in Austin.  Here is a short montage of the opening ceremonies.

Contents

  • The crowd
  • (0:16) Opening Remarks: Jan Uhrich VP of Dell Services
  • (1:12) Steve Schuckenbrock, President, Dell Services — How the center fits in Dell’s strategy and transformation
  • (3:51) Paul Bell, President Dell Public and Large Enterprise — A couple of customer examples of large organizations who had early access to the facility and what they accomplished.
  • (6:26) William Collins, Head of the Austin Solution Center — The next two centers to open in the U.S.
  • (7:3o) Ribbon cutting

After the ribbon cutting I took the tour to see some of the solutions on display.  I’ll be posting those in the days to come.  Stay tuned!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Citrix to launch OpenStack Distro (with a little help from Rackspace and Dell)

May 25, 2011

Today at Citrix Synergy, Citrix announced “Project Olympus,” their up coming OpenStack distribution.  In case you’re not familiar with it, OpenStack is an open source cloud platform based on the code from NASA’s Nebula cloud as well as Rackspace’s storage code.  The OpenStack project kicked of last summer and already has gathered support from over 60 commercial hardware and software vendors.

Mt. Olympus and the Cloud

Citrix’s OpenStack Distro

Citrix’s Project Olympus will produce a commercial distribution of the OpenStack infrastructure-as-a-service platform.  This “Olympian” distribution will be made up of two main components: a Citrix-certified version of OpenStack and a cloud-optimized version of XenServer.  While Citrix will lead with their Xen technology, thanks to OpenStack the distro will support all leading hypervisors.

Project Olympus is targeted at both public cloud providers as well as enterprise customers looking to build out private clouds.  The distribution will be available later this year.

But I want it now — The Citrix/Rackspace/Dell Early Access Program

For those who don’t want to wait until the official distribution is ready, don’t fret you can get started today through the Early Access Program (EAP).  The EAP is designed to help customers kick-off pilots and proof-of-concept deployments.  The program provides access to a beta version of the Citrix distro plus Dell hardware and deployment software as well as deployment services, training and on going customer support for customer clouds via Rackspace’s Cloud Builders program.

To get going with Citrix’s Project Olympus Early Access Program, please visit  http://www.citrix.com/olympus

Dell, Crowbar and Reference Architectures

Dell’s above-mentioned deployment software, aka “crowbar,” was a big hit at the last OpenStack Design summit.  The software which leverages Opscode’s Chef, allows folks to get an Openstack cloud up in running in less than four hours (instead of  days).  In addition to the deployment software and systems, to support the project Olympus EAP, Dell will also be providing reference architectures so keep your eyes peeled for those.

If you have any questions about what Dell is doing with OpenStack or want to get started, email us at OpenStack@Dell.com.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


GigaOm names the top 50 Cloud Innovators

May 23, 2011

As a run up to next months Structure conference,  GigaOm has put together a list of the top 50 companies “that are influencing how the cloud and infrastructure evolves.”  Those who made the list, entitled The Structure 50, are described as follows

These are the ones to watch — at least in 2011. You’ve heard of some – such as Amazon or Dell. Others – such as Nicira or Boundary – are probably not yet on your radar. But they should be. All of these companies, big or small, have people, technology or strategies that will help shape the way the cloud market is developing and where it will eventually end up.

Dell’s Bio

For each of the 50, GigaOm has put together a short “bio.”  Here is the entry for Dell:

Founded 1984
Investors Public Company
Structure50 Topic Data Center
Description Dell is among the world’s biggest server, storage and PC vendors, although the company has turned much of its focus to cloud computing software.
GigaOM’s Take Dell has made heavy investments in cloud computing, ranging from dense, low-power servers for cloud data centers to software acquisitions and OEM deals that provide cutting-edge management capabilities. Going forward, Dell has plans to provide both Windows Azure- and OpenStack-based cloud services.

Looking forward to Structure 11

Members of the Dell cloud team, including myself, will be out in force at Structure 11.  We will have a booth and Forrest Norrod, the GM of Dell’s Next Generation Computing Solutions division will be speaking on a panel.  Forrest’s panel, entitled “The Economics of Open Everything,” will focus on OpenStack and Cloud Foundry as two specific initiatives built around open source.

If you find yourself at Structure swing by the booth or seek one of us out.  Its a pretty intimate conference and we shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading


Day 2 of Dell’s analyst event and an SMB perspective from IDC’s Ray Boggs

May 5, 2011

Yesterday was day two of Dell’s two-day industry analyst summit which was held at the W hotel in Austin Texas.  The event brought together over 100 analysts from around the world to hear to about the company’s strategy and vision from Dell’s top execs.

The second day kicked off with a presentation by the President of Dell Services, Steve Schuckenbrock which was then followed by a panel moderated by Michael Dell himself.  The panel that Michael moderated was made up of the heads of four software companies Dell has recently acquired: Boomi, SecureWorks, KACE and Compellent.  The general sessions then concluded with a tag-team presentation by Dell’s CMO Karen Quintos and Andy Lark, VP of global marketing for Public and Large Enterprise.  Karen and Andy’s presentation covered Dell’s brand efforts and marketing initiatives in 2011.

Beyond the general sessions

After the general sessions, the rest of the afternoon featured a series of smaller breakout sessions as well as packed agenda of 1:1′s with analysts and Dell execs.  Between his one one-on-one’s I was able to grab some time with analyst Ray Boggs, VP of IDC‘s SMB and Home office research and get his take on the event:

Some of the ground Ray covers:

  • What were Ray’s expectations coming into the event and to what extent did Dell meet or miss those expectations
  • The key role the medium sized company plays in Dell’s strategy
  • Dell doubling down on acquisitions and R&D
  • What are Ray’s clients asking him about Dell
  • What would Ray like to see from Dell going forward

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


Dell’s Analyst Event – Summary of day 1 and feedback from Redmonk’s Michael Cote

May 3, 2011

Today at the W hotel in Austin, Dell held its bi-annual analyst summit.  Today’s event is the third in a series of analyst functions organized around the theme “Services and Solutions for the Virtual Era.”  The first event was held in San Francisco in March of last year and the second came six months later in Boston.

Today’s program

Today’s event was broken into three sections.  The first section featured presentations by

  • Karen Quintos, SVP and CMO
  • Dave Johnston, SVP Corporate Strategy
  • Brian Gladden, CFO
  • Steve Felice, President, Consumer, Small and Medium Business
  • Paul Bell, President, Public and Large enterprise

In the case of Steve and Paul they also each featured a couple of customers on stage.

The second section was a solutions panel moderated by Brad Anderson, SVP of Enterprise solutions and featured members of his team who manage strategy, storage, networking and computing platforms.  The final section of the day was also a panel.  This featured the GM of Dell China, the head of Dell’s OEM business, Dell’s GM of Public and Large Enterprise in Europe, Middle East and Africa, the head of Dell Channels and the GM of Dell Small and Medium business solutions.

How did we do?

To see how the event came across, I grabbed some time with Redmonk analyst Michael Cote and we sat down for a chat (I’m hoping to grab more analyst  feedback at day two tomorrow):

Some of the ground Michael covers:

  • What his clients ask him about Dell and what, as a result was he looking for today
  • Dell’s focus on solutions and de-emphasis on technology
  • Is Dell putting on its big boy pants?
  • The value of expanding on Dell’s success in select verticals

Pau for now…


Savtira streams media and apps from the cloud with beefy PowerEdge C combo

April 18, 2011

Savtira Corporation, who provides outsourced Cloud Commerce solutions, has chosen Dell DCS’s PowerEdge C line of servers and solutions to deliver streamed media and apps from the cloud.  Dell’s gear will help power the Savtira Cloud Commerce platform and Entertainment Distribution Network (EDN).

With a little help from PowerEdge C, businesses will now be able to use EDN to stream all digital media (business apps, games, music, movies audio/ebooks) from the cloud to any device.  One of the particularly cool features is, since the state and configuration are cloud-based, consumers can switch between devices and pick up exactly where they pushed pause on the last device.

Talk about supercharging

To power Savtira’s EDN data center, the company picked PowerEdge C410xs packed with NVidia Tesla M2070 GPUs and driven by PowerEdge C6145s.  If you think GPUs are just for rendering first-person shooters, think again.  GPUs can also cost-effectively supercharge your compute-intensive solution by offloading a lot of the processing from the main CPUs.  According to NVidia, for 1/10 the cost and with only 1/20 of the power consumption, GPUs deliver the same performance as CPUs.

To  help you get an idea of the muscle behind this solution, the PowerEdge C410x PCIe expansion chassis holds up to 16 of the Tesla M2070s GPUs, each of which exceeds over 400 cores.  Two fully populated C410xs are in turn powered by one PowerEdge C6145 for a combined total of 33 Teraflops in just 7U.

Talk about a lot of power in a little space :)

Extra-credit reading

  • PowerEdge C6145 — Dell DCS unveils its 4th HPC offering in 12 months, and its a beefy one
  • PowerEdge C410x — Say hello to my little friend — packing up to 16 GPGPUs
  • NVIDIA: from gaming graphics to High Performance Computing

Pau for now…


A walk thru Facebook’s HQ on Open Compute day

April 12, 2011

Last Thursday a group of us from Dell attended and participated in the unveiling of Facebook’s Open Compute project.

Much the way open source software shares the code behind the software, the Open Compute project has been created to provide the specifications behind the servers and the data center.    By releasing these specs, Facebook is looking to promote the sharing of data center and server technology best practices across the industry.

Pre-Event

The unassuming entrance to Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters.

The Facebook wall.

Facebook headquarters at 8am. (nice monitors! :)

Words of wisdom on the wall.

The Event

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg kicks off the Open Compute event.

The panel moderated by Om Malik that closed the event. Left to right: Om, Graham Weston of Rackspace, Frank Frankovsky of Facebook, Michael Locatis of the DOE, Alan Leinwand of Zynga, Forrest Norrod of Dell (with the mic) and Jason Waxman of Intel.

Post-event show & tell: Drew Schulke of Dell's DCS team being interviewed for the nightly news and showing off a Dell DCS server that incorporates elements of Open Compute.

Extra credit reading

  • GigaOM: Bringing Facebook’s Open Compute Project Down to Earth
  • The Register:  Facebook’s open hardware: Does it compute?

Pau for now…


Forrest Norrod of Dell on Open Compute

April 7, 2011

This morning, at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, the company unveiled the Open Compute project.  Also on hand to support the announcement were partners such as Dell and Intel, who served on a panel alongside representatives from Rackspace, the Department of Energy, Zynga and Facebook.  Forrest Norrod, GM of Dell’s server platform division represented Dell on the panel.

I caught up with Forrest after the event to get his take on the Open Compute project and what it means for Dell.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Facebook, OpenCompute and Dell

April 7, 2011

Today at its headquarters in Palo Alto, Facebook and a collection of partners such as Dell, Intel and AMD  — as well as kindred spirits like RackSpace’s founder (the company behind OpenStack) and the CIO of the Department of Energy — are on hand to reveal the details behind Facebook’s first custom-built data center and to announce the Open Compute project.

Efficiency: saving energy and cost

The big message behind Facebook’s new data center, located in Prineville Oregon, is one of efficiency and openness.  The facility will use servers and technology that deliver a 38 percent gain ìn energy efficiency.  To bring the knowledge that the company and its partners have gained in constructing this hyper-efficient hyper-scale data center Facebook is announcing the Open Compute project.

Much the way open source software shares the code behind the software, the Open Compute project has been created to provide the specifications behind the hardware.  As a result, Facebook will be publishing the specs for the technology used in their data center’s servers, power supplies, racks, battery backup systems and building design.  By releasing these specs, Facebook is looking to promote the sharing of data center and server technology best practices across the industry.

How does Dell fit in?

Dell, which has a long relationship with Facebook, has been collaborating on the Open Compute project.  Dell’s Data Center Solutions group has designed and built a data center solution using components from the Open Compute project and the server portion of that solution will be on display today at Facebook’s event.  Additionally Forrest Norrod, Dell’s GM of server platforms will be a member of the panel at the event talking about the two companies’ common goal of designing the next generation of hyper efficient data centers.

A bit of history

Dell first started working with Facebook back in 2008 when they had a “mere” 62 million active users.  At that time the three primary areas of focus in with regards to the Facebook IT infrastructure were:

  1. Decreasing power usage
  2. Creating purpose-built servers to match Facebook’s tiered infrastructure needs
  3. Having tier 1 dedicated engineering resources to meet custom product and service needs

Over the last three-plus years, as Facebook has grown to over 500 million active users, Dell has spefically helped out to address these challenges by:

  • Building custom solutions to meet Facebook’s evolving needs, from custom-designed servers for their web cache, to memcache systems to systems supporting their database tiers.
  • Delivering these unique servers quickly and cost effectively via Dell’s global supply chain.  Our motto is “arrive and live in five”, so within five hours of the racks of servers arriving at the dock doors, they’re live and helping to support Facebook’s 500 million users.
  • Achieving the greatest performance with the highest possible efficiency. Within one year, as the result of Dell’s turnkey rack integration and deployment services, we were able to save Facebook 84,000 pounds of corrugated cardboard and 39,000 pounds of polystyrene during that same year.

Congratulations Facebook! And thank you for focusing on both open sharing and on energy efficiency from the very beginning!

Pau for now…


Dell’s Billion Dollar Baby

April 7, 2011

Today Dell is announcing that it is continuing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to its transformation into a solutions provider, this time to the tune of $1 Billion.  The goal of this investment, which is being made this year, is to provide customers with a complete set of resources and services to enable business agility, efficiencies and competitive advantage.

Specifically Dell is announcing:

  • Cloud Data Centers:  The building of multiple cloud data centers around the world that will allow customers to take advantage of such offerings as Infrastructure as a Service, Desktop as a Service, Storage as a Service and IT outsourcing.
  • Global Solutions Centers:  The creation of a network of global solutions centers to help customers architect, validate and build the efficient enterprise from the data center to the edge of the network.
  • New Solutions: New open, capable and affordable solutions for data management, client virtualization and data center virtualization:
    • Dell vStart: a single unit infrastructure solution that runs 100 to 200 vm’s and comes racked and cabled from the Dell factory.
    • Dell|Microsoft management and virtualization solutions partnership  to deliver integrated management solutions made up of Dell’s Virtual Integrated System, our Advanced Infrastructure Manager and Microsoft’s System Center.
    • Dell Email and File Archive Solutions
    • Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions

A little more detail:

Next generation cloud data centers

Over the next 24 months Dell is building out a host of cloud data centers around the world.  Rather than old-school, giant raised-floor data centers these cloud data centers will be much smaller (approximately 10,000 square feet), more efficient and designed to take advantage of modular, hyper-scale and high-density principles.  Dell’s modular strategy will let the company quickly expand capabilities as demand grows.

These data centers will feature private, public and hybrid cloud options.  They will provide the foundation for Dell’s next generation services and solutions and offer IaaS, and SaaS capabilities as well as IT outsourcing for customers.

Global solutions center network

This year Dell will open 12 Global Solutions centers and is planning ten more over the next 18 months.  These centers are customer facing facilities that will act as a “living lab” providing an environment and the support for customers to architect, build and test proof of concepts involving Dell products, services and solutions.  The centers will also support solution integration, technical briefings and validation and ISV certification to meet regional requirements.

Starting with the upgrading of the existing Austin, Limerick and Frankfurt centers, further facilities will be opened this year in the Americas (Washington DC, Chicago, Northern California and Brazil), APJ (Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney) and EMEA (Paris).

With today’s announcement Dell his taken its evolution into a services and solutions company and kicked it up a notch.  In the “Virtual Era” technology is rapidly changing and it along with new delivery models such as cloud are changing the way businesses operate and create advantage.   Through its cloud and solution centers and new solution offerings Dell is bringing new ways to help customers harness and leverage these changes.

Pau for now…


Dell, Equinix and Rackspace launch Free OpenStack Demo environment

March 30, 2011

OpenStack, the open source cloud platform based on code donated by NASA and Rackspace, has gained considerable traction since it was launched eight months ago.  The community has rapidly grown and there have been several releases.  Now its time to get potential customers trying it out and kicking the tires.

With the idea of removing friction to adoption and make the testing out of the platform as easy as possible, Dell, Equinix and Rackspace are announcing today the availability of a free OpenStack cloud demonstration and test environment.

The idea of the demo environment is to allow organizations to easily evaluate OpenStack and assess application performance on the platform in a low risk environment for free.  The next step after a successful demo would be a proof of concept.

Movin workloads around the country

This demo environment is initially available in three U.S. data centers and in Q2 of this year this offering will also be available in Equinix data centers in Europe and Asia.  The initial data centers are:

  • Equinix Silicon Valley
  • Equinix Asburn, VA
  • Rackspace Chicago

By having geographically dispersed facilities customers are able to test out the moving of applications and workloads between them.

The various parts

The OpenStack demo environment is made up of the following components

Widening the circle

The name of the game here is making the trying out of OpenStack as easy as possible.  There are a lot of community members and open source aficionados who are already testing out OpenStack.  The idea with OpenStack cloud demonstration environment is to provide a set up where a greater number of organizations feel comfortable evaluating the platform for themselves.

Try it, you just might like it :)

Extra-credit reading

Updated reading

Pau for now…


Dells Data Center Solutions group turns Four!

March 28, 2011

Dell’s Data Center Solutions group (DCS) is no longer a toddler.  Over the weekend we turned four!

Four years ago on March 27, 2007 Dell announced the formation of the Data Center Solutions group, a special crack team designed to service the needs of hyperscale customers.  On that day eWeek announced the event in their article Dell Takes On Data Centers with New Services Unit and within the first week Forrest Norrod, founding DCS GM and currently the GM of Dell’s server platform division, spelled out to the world our goals and mission (in re-watching the video its amazing to see how true to that mission we have been):

The DCS Story

If you’re not familiar with the DCS story, here is how it all began.  Four years ago Dell’s Data Center Solutions team was formed to directly address a new segment that begin developing in the marketplace, the “hyperscale” segment.  This segment was characterized by customers who were deploying 1,000s if not 10,000s of servers at a time.

These customers saw their data center as their factory and technology as a competitive weapon.  Along with the huge scale they were deploying at, they had a unique architecture and approach specifically, resiliency and availability were built into the software rather than the hardware.  As a result they were looking for system designs that focused less on redundancy and availability and more on TCO, density and energy efficiency.  DCS was formed to address these needs.

Working directly with a small group of customers

From the very beginning DCS took the Dell direct customer model and drove it even closer to the customer.  DCS architects and engineers sit down with the customer and before talking about system specs they learn about the customer’s environment, what problem they are looking to solve and what type of application(s) they will be running.  From there the DCS team designs and creates a system to match the customer’s needs.

In addition to major internet players, DCS’s customers include financial services organizations, national government agencies, institutional universities, laboratory environments and energy producers.  Given the extreme high-touch nature of this segment, the DCS group handles only 20-30 customers worldwide but these customers such as Facebook, Lawrence Livermore National Labs and Microsoft Azure are buying at such volumes that the system numbers are ginormous.

Expanding to the “next 1000”

Ironically because it was so high-touch, Dell’s scale out business didn’t scale beyond our group of 20-30 custom customers.   This meant considerable pent up demand from organizations one tier below.   After thinking about it for a while we came up with a different model to address their needs.  Leveraging the knowledge and experience we had gained working with the largest hyperscale players, a year ago we launched a portfolio of specialized products and solutions to address “the next 1000.”

The foundation for this portfolio is a line of specialized PowerEdge C systems derived from the custom systems we have been designing for the “biggest of the big.”  Along with these systems we have launched a set of complete solutions that we have put together with the help of a set of key partners:

  • Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications: A turnkey platform-as-a-service offering targeted at IT service providers, hosting companies and telcos.  This private cloud offering combines Dell’s specialized cloud servers with fully integrated software from Joyent.
  • Dell Cloud Solution for Data Analytics: A combination of Dell’s PowerEdge C servers with Aster Data’s nCluster, a massively parallel processing database with an integrated analytics engine.
  • Dell | Canonical Enterprise Cloud, Standard Edition: A “cloud-in-a-box” that allows the setting up of an affordable Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas)-style private clouds in computer labs or data centers.
  • OpenStack: We are working with Rackspace to deliver an OpenStack solution later this year.  OpenStack is the open source cloud platform built on top of code donated by Rackspace and NASA and is now being further developed by the community.

These first four years have been a wild ride.  Here’s hoping the next four will be just as crazy!

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Case studies


DCS Microserver allows French hoster to enter new market (and grab big market share)

March 21, 2011

Online.net, owned by the Iliad group, is the second largest hoster in the French market.  The company had traditionally been focused on the higher end of the dedicated hosting market with services starting at 29.99 euro/month and predominantly based on Dell’s rack mounted servers.  About three years ago they began exploring the possibility of providing a lighter weight entry-level offering targeted at SMBs.

Online engaged Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group and the two teams began brainstorming around system designs to meet the needs of this new segment.  The design that DCS came up with was the Via processor-based microserver the Dell X511-VX8, code name“Fortuna” (please note I had nothing to do with the official naming of this product :)). The system handles one OS and app per server, has one 1 CPU per server and features 12 servers per chassis.

Online.net's "START" line of offerings, beginning with the microserver enabled, Dedibox SC.

Thanks to these ultra cost-efficient systems, Online was able to provide SMB customers with an entry-level offering at half the price of their next lowest product.  Not only that but this new offering allowed Online to grab significant share in the French market.

Tres tres cool et tres tres (geek) chic

If you want to see the Dell X511-VX8 in action or take a tour of Online’s datacenter and operations, all set to chill house music, check out the video below.  (The rows and rows of X511s appear at the 1:40 mark and go until 2:40.  You can also see a quick overview of one of the microservers themselves at the 4:36 mark).

Beyond the Dell X511-VX8

The success that Online had with the X511 gave DCS insight into the potential of the microserver market.  Based on the concepts that came from the work with Online.net, DCS created a follow-on offering, code-named “Viking,” for our custom accounts.

This too was a big success, so much so that we will soon be taking this experience even broader as we look to announce our third generation microserver.

Stay tuned!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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