Architecture Overview: The Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications

February 10, 2011

Last November, Dell announced the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications.   This turnkey offering is composed of Dell systems and Joyent Software along with a reference architecture all supported by Dell services.  This solution enables a private Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment to support the development and testing of languages such as PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby and Java.

This solution is designed for hosters and telcos who are looking to provide public PaaS offerings.  An example of this is Uniserve, a Canadian Internet services provider.  Uniserve has adopted the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications to offer on-demand access to a high-performance Internet application and consumer delivery platform, for customers to develop iPhone apps to commercial storefronts, to hosting and delivering Software-as-a-Service.

Check out the short video above where Dell Data Center Solutions architect Brian Harris  provides a high level overview of the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications architecture.

Some of the areas Brian covers:

  • Purpose build hardware
  • Smart OSs
  • Smart machines
  • Self-service portal
  • Dell Support

Extra-credit reading

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…


Dell brings Joyent to the world

November 19, 2010

Joyent has been a provider of cloud services for the past five years, longer than the term cloud itself has been around.  Today at a press conference in San Francisco, Dell announced the availability of the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications which offers the software from Joyent as a turnkey platform-as-a-service offering.  This private cloud offering is offered on Dell’s specialized cloud servers and is targeted at IT service providers, hosting companies and telcos.

Up and running

One of the first customers to pick up and run with this offering is Uniserve, a Canadian Internet services provider.  Uniserve has adopted the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications to offer on-demand access to a high-performance Internet application and consumer delivery platform, for customers to develop iPhone apps to commercial storefronts, to hosting and delivering Software-as-a-Service.

Thoughts from the top

Joyent CEO, David Young is featured in the short video above addressing the following questions about the Dell/Joyent solution:

  • Why is he excited about today’s announcement
  • Why have they focused on web applications
  • Who are the potential customers of this solution
  • What customer pain points does this solve
  • Why partner with Dell

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading


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…


The Dell / Azure Cloud & Appliance

July 12, 2010

Several months ago in the press release that announced our Cloud Solution offerings, there was a particularly cloudy paragraph that talked about Dell’s relationship with Microsoft.  The paragraph ended with the sentence: “Dell and Microsoft will collaborate on the Windows Azure platform, with Dell and Microsoft offering services, and Microsoft continuing to invest in Dell hardware for Windows Azure infrastructure.”  What the heck did that mean?  Well today we can be a bit clearer.

Dell Cloud based on Windows Azure

Earlier this morning at Microsoft’s Worldwide partner conference, the giant of Redmond announced the limited production release of the Windows Azure technology for a select few tech giants.  Dell is one of these and will be taking this technology and creating ourselves a Platform as a service (PaaS) cloud.  We will in turn use this cloud to deliver both public and private cloud services to customers looking to develop and deliver next generation cloud services based on .Net.   This platform will be targeted at enterprise, public, small and medium-sized business customers as well as be used by Dell itself.

But wait, there’s more: Azure in a box

Dell and Microsoft are also working on a Dell-powered Windows Azure platform appliance.  (Don’t let the term “appliance” throw you, you can’t register for this and it really represents 100s or 1000s of servers plus storage and networking).  Dell will be making this turnkey cloud platform available to enterprises to enable them to set up their own PaaS clouds within their organizations.  Dell has a bit of a leg up here since we’ve been working with Microsoft on Azure as the primary infrastructure partner since its launch back in ’08.  We’re simply packaging this “winning combination” and providing it in a turnkey package for internal use by enterprises.

A little context: adding to our cloud portfolio

So how does this fit in with some of the other cloud solutions that we have announced?  At a high-level, Dell is providing cloud solutions to help customers take either an evolutionary approach that makes their existing applications more efficient or a revolutionary approach with new applications written for cloud scale (we actually believe customers will do both).

We have already been working with Microsoft to offer evolutionary cloud services based on Microsoft’s Hyper V platform.  We are now complementing this with a revolutionary Windows Azure appliance.  This turnkey PaaS cloud platform will be in addition to the turnkey PaaS cloud platform that we announced with Joyent.   Whereas the Joyent-based offering, “the Dell cloud solution for web applications” is targeted at folks developing in Java, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby on Rails etc. the Azure appliance will naturally be targeted at the .Net world.  BTW we also offer solutions based on VMware Redwood/ Spring, EMC Atmos and BMC among others.

Stay tuned for more!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Talking to Joyent’s CTO and co-founder: Jason Hoffman

June 3, 2010

When I was out in the Bay Area for our launch a while back I stopped by Joyent‘s new headquarters (I actually visited them on their very first day in their new digs). I chatted with CTO Jason Hoffman about his background, what Joyent’s all about and what they are doing with Dell.  Take a listen:

Some of the topics Jason tackles

  • What Joyent does (hint: they provide virtual datacenters)
  • Joyent customers: they range from the top facebook applications, on line media companies, movie, music and tv studios, online retailers…
  • Your next computer is the data center — which needs operating environment, an open API and a good set of developer tools.
  • How Jason got to where he is: via a Doctorate in pathology where he was an end consumer of compute.  He realized that a lot of the efficiencies that they had developed in his field could be applied to a hosting environment.
  • Dell as Joyent’s “private cloud arm:” Joyent software running on Dell’s hardware where Dell can come in and set up the entire environment enabling departments within companies to act as service providers within their organizations.

To put it in perspective…

And since we’re talking about Joyent and Dell and Joyent working together I thought I would include this excerpt from a post that Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady recently wrote about the private cloud:

At the present time, however, most of that which we call Platform-as-a-Service – the layer currently serving as middleware – is public cloud only. The PaaS fabrics tend to be proprietary and not available for private consumption. Salesforce.com, for example, doesn’t let you replicate Force.com on your servers. Ditto for Google App Engine. Microsoft Azure features may be trickling back into Windows, but you’re not going to be running Azure in your local datacenter. This is why Dell’s distribution of Joyent’s cloud software came as such a surprise to many; you just don’t see these fabrics being made available locally.

Extra-credit reading

  • Survey Shows More Than Half of Dynamic Language Developers Are Looking To Build Cloud-based Applications in Next Year

Pau for now…


NetworkWorld Review of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud

May 18, 2010

Tom Henderson and Brendan Allen of ExtremeLabs published a great walk-thru of the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) last week in NetworkWorld.  Canonical, the commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu, is one the first members of our Cloud Partner Program and we will soon be offering UEC running on top of our PowerEdge C line accompanied by reference architectures.

If you’re not familiar with UEC, which leverages the open source Eucalyptus private cloud platform, here is a quick backgrounder:

Basically, Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud can be deployed on internal hardware to run job/batch applications. The idea is to initially allocate storage, then rapidly build multiple virtual machines to process data, collect the data, then tear down the infrastructure for re-use by a subsequent purpose.

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud provides internal cloud control methods that closely mime what can be done on Amazon’s public cloud infrastructure. Its tools can be used to process recurring jobs or one-shot distributed applications, like DNA analysis, video rendering, or database table reformatting/reindexing.

Walk this way

The Review, which is a concise 3 and a half pages, steps you through:

  • Getting started
  • Installation*
  • Setup/configuration
  • Image Bundles
  • Usage/Monitoring

*My favorite line from this section is: “Installation was very simple; we inserted the Ubuntu Server CD, selected Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, and drank energy drinks.”

If you’re interested in learning about UEC this article is a great place to start.

Extra-credit reading

If the above whets your appetite, you may want to dig into the following:

(The last 3 items I grabbed from Dustin’s Blog)

Pau for now…


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