A Walk-through of Dell’s Modular Data Center

September 13, 2011

In my last entry I featured a video with the Bing Maps imagery team.  In it they talked about why they went with Dell’s Modular Data Center (MDC) to help power and process all the image data they crunch.  For a deeper dive and a look at one of these babies from the inside join Ty Schmitt and Mark Bailey in the following video as they walk you through the MDC and how it works.

Some of the ground Ty and Mark cover

  • The various modules that make up the MDC
  • The topology of the system
  • How the outside temperature dictates which of the three cooling methods is used
  • The racks inside the MDC and how they were able to pull the fans out of the individual servers
  • A closure look at the power module

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Bing Maps team on why they went with Dell

September 13, 2011

A little while ago I posted an entry talking about how Bing Maps was using Dell’s Modular Data Centers to power their new uber-efficient, uber-compact data center (or as Microsoft calls it  “microsite”), located in Longmont, Colorado.  But don’t take my word for it…

Below is a recent video of members of the Bing Maps’ imagery team, Tom Barclay, Brad Clark and Ryan Tracy, talking about what their needs were and why they chose Dell.  (BTW, the written case study is also available now).

Some of the ground the team covers

  • Bing Maps leading the way and  trying things out at Microsoft before the rest of the company.
  • Producing the imagery for Bing Maps including photographing all of the US and Western Europe and then stitching it all together with the help of tremendous processing power.
  • Their goal was to bring on additional capacity to support current and future site goals at the lowest cost, in the fastest amount of time with the least amount of down time.
  • Why they went with Dell and what they gained.

Extra-Credit reading

Pau for now…


Dell’s Modular Data Center powers Bing Maps

August 1, 2011

Late last week we announced that Dell’s Data Center Solutions group had outfitted Bing Maps’ uber-efficient, uber-compact data center (or as Microsoft calls it  “microsite”), located in Longmont, Colorado.  The facility is a dedicated imagery processing site to support Streetside, Bird’s Eye, aerial and satellite image types provided by Bing Maps.  The site’s key components are Dell’s Modular Data Centers and Melanox Infiniband networking.

Brad Clark, Group Program Manager, Bing Maps Imagery Technologies described their goal for the project, “Our goal was to push technological boundaries, to build a cost effective and efficient microsite.  We ended-up with a no-frills high-performance microsite to deliver complicated geospatial applications that can in effect ‘quilt’ different pieces of imagery into a cohesive mosaic that everyone can access.”

Keeping things cool

The challenge when building out the Longmont site was to design a modular outdoor solution that was optimized for power, space, network connectivity and workload performance.

The modules that Dell delivered use a unique blend of  free-air with evaporative cooling technology, helping to deliver world-class efficiency and a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) as low as 1.03.

To watch the whole site being built in time-lapse check this out:

Extra-credit reading


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…


My interview on the Windows Azure team blog — The Cloud will go away

January 17, 2011

Earlier this month an interview I did with Robert Duffner, Director of Product management for Windows Azure, went live on the Windows Azure team blog.  Robert asked me a variety of questions about Cloud security, how I see the Cloud evolving, the pitfalls of the cloud, where Dell plays etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that my ramblings actually turned out coherent :)  Here is a section from the interview (you can check out the whole piece here):

Cloud computing is a very exciting place to be right now, whether you’re a customer, an IT organization, or a vendor. As I mentioned before, we are in the very days of this technology, and we’re going to see a lot happening going forward.

In much the same way that we really focused on distinctions between Internet, intranet, and extranet in the early days of those technologies, there is perhaps an artificial level of distinction between virtualization, private cloud, and public cloud. As we move forward, these differences are going to melt away, to a large extent.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to still have private cloud or public cloud, but we will think of them as less distinct from one another. It’s similar to the way that today, we keep certain things inside our firewalls on the Internet, but we don’t make a huge deal of it or regard those resources inside or outside as being all that distinct from each other.

I think that in general, as the principles of cloud grab hold, the whole concept of cloud computing as a separate and distinct entity is going to go away, and it will just become computing as we know it.

Pau for now…


Construction complete on Microsoft’s “Cloud Farm”

January 10, 2011

In Data Center Knowledge last week there was a short article, accompanied by a set of photos, that gave view into Microsoft’s very cool new “Cloud Farm” data center.  The design of the data center, which is located in Quincy Washington, was driven by Microsoft’s use of some ultra-cool modular data centers :) .  It was the modular nature of these units that helped Microsoft finish their initial deployment at their new facility in only eight months.

One of the modular data centers at Microsoft's Cloud Farm. Dang, those are good looking units. (Photo source: Data Center Knowledge)

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


PWC’s Cloud man bullish on OpenStack

November 12, 2010

Last not but least in my series of videos from the OpenStack design summit, is an interview I did with David Lemphers of Price Waterhouse Coopers.  David recently joined PWC as their director of cloud computing after spending six years at Microsoft, most recently as one of the principle engineers on the Windows Azure platform.

I talked with David to get his thoughts on OpenStack and here is what he had to say:

Some of the ground Dave covers:

  • Dave’s background
  • What he’s doing at PWC as the cloud director
  • Why decided to attend (and present at) the OpenStack summit and why he’s so bullish on the platform.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Cool Article on the Dell/Azure announcement

July 14, 2010

Monday, as part of Microsoft’s big Azure announcement, we announced that we would be both building an Azure appliance, enabling customers to build their own public or private clouds, as well as developing an Azure public cloud at Dell that our customers can use to develop and deploy next generation services on.

There has been a ton of press surrounding this move by Microsoft to broaden the market for Azure, an effort which also includes similar agreements with HP and Fujitsu. Not surprisingly, my favorite article is one by Charles King that came out yesterday in eCommerce Times — Microsoft’s Windows Azure and Dell: Blue Skies Ahead.

Check out these excerpts and you’ll see why :)

Dell is out of the blocks and running with Azure while its rivals are still sorting out their gym bags.

Dell’s cloud efforts tend to be one of the company’s best kept secrets. Some vendors’ continual cloud pronouncements tend to blend into a vuvuzela-like drone, but Dell has simply gotten down to the hard work of building workable commercial cloud and hyper-scale data center solutions during the past three years.

In fact, Dell was the first major vendor to launch a business unit specifically focused on the commercial cloud. By doing so, the company’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) organization has gained invaluable hands-on expertise about the specialized needs of organizations leveraging cloud technologies for applications including hosting, HPC, Web 2.0, gaming, energy social networking and SaaS. That point likely influenced Microsoft’s 2008 decision to choose Dell as a primary infrastructure partner in developing the Azure platform.

Cool stuff!

Pau for now…


Microsoft, Virtualization and the Cloud

January 4, 2010

Happy New Year to all!   For the first week of this new year I’m going to focus on virtualization and the cloud.

Kicking off this mini-series is an interview I did last month at the Gartner DataCenter conference with David Greschler, director of virtualization strategy at Microsoft.  I caught up with David right after his talk at the conference.

Some of the topics David tackles:

  • The ability to treat IT as a service.  Before virtualization, specific workloads were tied to specific devices.  Thanks to virtualization you can create pooled resources which is the beginning of IT as a service.
  • Microsoft’s Dynamic Data Center Toolkit:  This tool overlays on top of HyperV and System Center (their management tool) and allows you to look at and manage your own datacenter as a pool of compute power.  It  is a step towards the private cloud and can also be used by hosters.  It will also allow for moving workloads between public and private clouds.
  • Microsoft is focusing on giving you knowledge at the app level.  System Center tells you whats going on inside not just at the hypervisor level.
  • Windows Azure:  a large scale cloud that you can use to build apps for and have hosted on this environment.
  • The ability also to take workloads into Azure over time.
  • Image based Management: Taking the  technology of  the desktop-targeted App V and applying it to the server.  Will allow you to encapsulate apps and move them from one OS to another without having to re-install them.  You will no longer have 1000s and 1000s of virtualized images that you will have to manage and monitor, instead you will very few golden images of these VMs and you will be able to simply put these workloads in and take them out.

Extra credit viewing:

Stay tuned next time for Dan Chu of VMware to hear what they are up to.

Pau for now…


Microsoft Joins the Cloud Party

October 28, 2008

Yesterday at PDC, the big Microsoft developer fest, Ray Ozzie got up and announced the beta launch of Windows Azure, Microsoft’s entry into the cloud computing arena. (It may be beta but you’ll notice they already have a snazzy logo)

This wasn’t a big surprise to anyone since they had been doing some saber-rattling in the past weeks about how they would be joining the party (fashionably late in true Microsoft style).  To carry the party analogy a little bit further, two of the other guests who had gotten there early to help set up, Rackspace and Amazon, made announcements of their own last week.  Rackspace announced the acquisition of two cloud-focused start-ups and a reorganization of their Coud division, Mosso.  Amazon added Windows as an OS to EC2 (have a mentioned how much I dislike the “EC2″ name?), dropped the “beta” tag it and added an SLA of 99.95% availability per year.

Looking at the Cloud from both sides now

In an interesting post from the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones, which is based on an interview that Rory conducted with Ozzie yesterday, Rory finds out they have slightly different interpretations of cloud computing (shocker!).  Ozzie sees Amazon as a cloud pioneer but “[insisted] that Google just wasn’t in cloud computing.”

I pointed out that the one cloud application with which I was familiar was Google Docs … But it turned out we were looking at the cloud from different sides. Mr Ozzie was focussing on it as something you rented out to businesses so they could use the vast computing power in your data centres to create applications which could scale up in a hurry – an approach where Amazon is enjoying plenty of success. I was thinking of the cloud as a place where millions of users could store their data and use simple online programmes, mostly for free.

There are folks who agree with Ray that what Google does is deliver Software as a Service rather than cloud computing but I don’t think the distinction is helpful.  To me if you draw on compute resources, be they apps or platforms, from a source you don’t own or manage and that you can scale up or down as needed and you are billed accordingly… that’s cloud computing.  (I’m off to the Rackspace customer event today so it will be interesting to see if I come back with a different definition ;)

Pau for now…


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