DCS systems, solutions and MDC steal show at Dell sales kick-off

February 1, 2011

Every year at the end of January Dell holds a giant kick-off meeting for our enterprise and public sales forces.  The event, which has been held in Las Vegas the last two years, is a four-day happening consisting of keynotes, sessions and a full-scale expo where the sales team can touch and learn first-hand about the latest and greatest in Dell solutions and offerings.

Setting up the DCS Modular Data Center on the expo floor

At last year’s sales kick-off, the Data Center Solutions (DCS) group had our big coming out party, letting the sales force know that we would be expanding beyond our elite custom system business, with a specialized PowerEdge C line and a set of cloud solutions.

This year the systems and solutions have been out in the market for a little while and we were able to share actual case studies with the attendees showing how our systems and solutions have been able to solve real customer problems.  The big new addition to the DCS line up was our Modular Data Center (MDC) which, until just a few months ago, was reserved only for a very small group of select customers.

Gearing up for day two of both duty at the DCS booth.

As you can tell from the picture above, the MDC took up a big part of our booth.  It served to house our PowerEdgeC servers and host a selection of our cloud solutions:

Additionally, to provide a peak at what PowerEdge C systems we have up our sleeve, we had several units in an uber secret whisper suite.

Our overall message at the booth was that although these components can be used individually, if you want to run “the world’s most efficient hyperscale data center” you’ll want to combine these optimized solutions and systems with the MDC into one hyper-efficient, integrated system.

Well received

Now as a member of the DCS team I may be a little biased but I really think we had the coolest booth there 🙂  It was great to hear comments from the sales force such as “this is awesome!” and “why didn’t I know about this?!”

We’ll have to start now to figure how we will top this next year.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

Dell + Aster data analytics solution: Live and in use

November 19, 2010

Today at a press conference in San Francisco we announced the general availability of our Dell cloud solutions.  One of the solutions we debuted was the Dell Cloud Solution for Data Analytics, a combination of our PowerEdge C servers with Aster Data’s nCluster, a massively parallel processing database with an integrated analytics engine.

Earlier this week I stopped by Aster Data‘s headquarters in San Carlos, CA and met up with their EVP of marketing, Sharmila Mulligan.   I recorded  the video above where Sharmila discusses the Dell and Aster solution and the fantastic results a customer is seeing with it.

Some of the ground Sharmila covers:

  • What customer pain points and problems does this solution address  (hint: organizations trying to manage huge amounts of both structured and unstructured data)
  • How Aster’s nCluster software is optimized for Dell PowerEdge C2100 and how it provides very high performance analytics as well as a cost effective way to store very large data.
  • (2:21) InsightExpress, a leading provider of digital marketing research solutions, has deployed the Dell and Aster analytics solution and has seen great results:
    • Up and running w/in 6 weeks
    • Queries that took 7-9 minutes now run in 3 seconds

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading

Dell Cloud Solutions up and running!

November 19, 2010

Back in March we announced Dell’s cloud solutions.  Today at a press conference in San Francisco we announced their general availability along with some examples of customers who are employing them. (Woohoo!)

What’s the big idea

The idea behind these offerings has been to leverage the experience we in the DCS group have gained over the last several years providing custom systems to some of the world’s largest cloud providers.  These new solutions are targeted at organizations the next tier down (the “next 1,000”) from the hyperscale customers we have been working with.

Who’s using these solutions, a couple of examples

  • Uniserve, a Canadian Internet services provider, 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.
  • InsightExpress, a leading provider of digital marketing research solutions, has deployed the Dell Solution for Data Analytics. The solution combines analytic platform software from Aster Data with Dell PowerEdge C servers with joint service and support, enabling InsightExpress to measure the effectiveness of advertising and brand communications for clients to drive high performing marketing campaigns.

How we got here

We started our expansion by creating a line of specialized PowerEdge C servers patterned after the custom systems we have been designing for the “biggest of the big.”  What we realized though is that, unlike the biggest players who write their own software, the next 1000 don’t just want servers, they want solutions that also include software and services as well.

The three integrated solutions that are available today are:

  • 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 Cloud Solution for Data Warehousing: PowerEdge C servers and Greenplum Database 4.0 for building enterprise data warehouses and consolidating data marts in massively parallel processing environments.

Stay tuned for more news and more solutions!

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading:

Dell’s hyper scale cloud efforts — Everything you wanted to know in 3 minutes

October 14, 2010

Last week a couple of us went down to San Antonio to help represent the OpenStack project at Rackspace’s partner summit.  While there I met up with the VAR Guy.   Mr. Guy got me chatting about Dell’s Data Center Solutions group, where we’ve been and where we’re going.  Below is the resulting video he put together featuring myself and San Antonio’s greenery. (See the original article this came from).

Some of topics I tackle:

  • How Dell’s Data Center Solutions Group is designing servers for high-end cloud computing
  • How Dell is integrating hardware with software in cloud servers
  • Coming soon: Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications/Leveraging Joyent‘s software
  • Dell’s cloud partner program – where Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, Aster Data and Greenplum fit in.
  • Dell’s commitment to OpenStack

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…

In-database analytics explained by Forrester’s James Kobielus

October 11, 2010

The week before last I headed up to Chicago to attend our partner Aster Data’s Big Data Insights summit.  One of the featured speakers was James Kobielus of Forrester Research, a leading expert on data warehousing, predictive analytics, data mining, and complex event processing.

With that background I thought Jim would be the perfect guy to ask about in-database analytics (where the actual analytics is colocated  in the data warehouse rather than having to schlep data from the warehouse to a separate analytics application).  So I did.

Some of the ground Jim covers:

  • Although there’s some new stuff there, in-database analytics is an old approach.
  • What’s new is we finally have an open interface/standard that allows a wider range of applications to be pushed down into the database and executed there.
  • Moving from proprietary interfaces/languages towards an open standard built on Map Reduce/Hadoop.
  • The benefits of this open approach
  • Aster Data as an evangelist for in database analytics

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

Talking to Aster Data’s brand new CEO

September 30, 2010

I flew to Chicago today to support our partner Aster Data’s Big Data Insight summit.  This Chicago event is a part of series of roadshows that Aster is doing for customers in cities in the US and Europe.  Today’s event was held in the trendy Hotel Sax and featured talks from analysts as well as partners (SAS, Microstrategy and Dell).

Attending his first Aster roadshow was their brand new CEO, Quentin Gallivan.  As the post-event happy hour was winding down I grabbed a few minutes with Quentin.  Here is what he had to say:

Some of the topics Quentin covers:

  • What he did before Aster: CEO of BI SaaS provider Pivot link; CEO of Postini a SaaS email security company, and key exec at Verisign.
  • Why Quentin decided to join Aster.
  • How he heard about the opportunity.
  • What he see’s as Aster’s opportunity.
  • How the Dell partnership allows Aster to deliver a total solution.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…

Aster’s Big Data Architecture

September 3, 2010

As I mentioned in my last entry, the week before last I headed out to the TDWI World Conference in San Diego.  Besides talking about Dell’s new BI practice, I was there to represent our data analytics partners, Aster Data and Greenplum.  Both vendors also had booths of their own and I was able to grab some time with Jeff Zeisler, director of pre-sales engineers at Aster Data, to get an overview of their architecture.  Here’s what Jeff had to say:

Some of the ground Jeff covers:

  • Aster is a MPP (massively-parallel processing) data warehouse solution.  It runs on a cluster of commodity hardware that execute SQL queries in parallel.
  • The 3 layers to the architecture:
    • Queen tier – central location users use to submit queries. It figures out how to split up the query and send it to the next tier.
    • Worker tier – where most of the servers are located, where data is stored (locally on the servers) and where all the heavy lifting for processing occurs.  The map reduce framework is built into this tier and sits right next to the SQL execution engine.
    • Loader and exporter tier:  a separate tier of machines that can be used to load new data into the system for  bulk loading.
  • How it works: Query gets broken up across all the machines, they each execute some portion of the query and the result are brought back together at the Queen and returned to the user.
  • New cool things coming up in the next 6 months.


Pau for now…

Big Data in the Windy City

May 20, 2010

The Aqua building, catty corner from my hotel

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I attended the TDWI (The Data Warehouse Institute) world conference in Chicago.  The show was a mix of courses and exhibit space.

I went to learn about the BI/Data warehousing segment and scout in preparation for the next conference in August.

Why BI?

My interest in the space comes from the fact that two of the three first partners in our Cloud Partner program are in the Data Warehousing and analytics space: Aster Data and Greenplum.  Both these partners are leveraging highly scaled-out architectures to crunch data.

While there, besides checking out the 24 companies on the exhibit floor, I attended three half-day classes: Developing your BI tool strategy, Cool BI, the latest innovations, Extending BI to support online marketing and Web 2.0.

For other newbies like myself, here are some notes from the first course.

My Notes: The layers of the BI Lifecycle stack

BI Suites:

  • What they do : Query, report, analyze, visualize, alert (front end to the chain)
  • The Big 4:  IBM (Cognos), SAP (Business Objects), Oracle (Hyperion), Microsoft
    • They all bought small players who excelled in the space
    • Usually offer the suites as part of a complete BI lifecycle stack
    • Two of the remaining independents are Microstrategy and SAS

Data Management

  • Data warehouse/mart databases and storage
  • Usually in a RDBMS but also in a dedicated OLAP database
  • Examples: Aster Data, Greenplum, Neteeza, Teradata

Data Integration (aka ETL)

  • They extract, transform and load info from the layer below into the layer above.
  • Examples: Informatica

Operational Apps/Systems

  • Planning, ERP, CRM etc
  • Orders, Invoices, Shipping, Web clicks

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

Aster Data’s CEO & Co-founder — Mayank Bawa

April 22, 2010

As part of the Cloud ISV partner program we announced last month, we are working with “big data” player Aster Data.   When I was out for our launch a few weeks back, I met up with Mayank Bawa, CEO and co-founder of Aster Data.  We got together in my hotel lobby and talked about Aster Data, how it came to be, how they tackle Big Data analysis and how Dell and Aster are working together.  Check it out:

Some of the topics Mayank tackles.

  • How Aster came to be:  came out of the research Mayank and his co-founders were doing at Standford.   They even got seed funding from their professor who had also Google and VMware get their starts when they were projects at Stanford.
  • Aster’s approach: build a data infrastructure that can not only store large amounts of data but also has enough compute power to analyze that data.
  • Tying Map Reduce closely to SQL to produce a language called SQL map reduce.  This allows apps to be run right where the data is stored and managed. The Map Reduce framework allows to apps to be expressed in a variety of languages e.g. Java, Perl, Python, C++.
  • How Aster and Dell are working together:  Bringing a MPP (massive parallel processing) data warehouse infrastructure to their customers.   Building one blueprint so customers can create a self service data warehouse and another to set up infrastructure for big data analytics.

Extra-credit reading:

Press release: Aster Data Introduces New Cloud Solution for Data Warehousing and Advanced Analytics

Pau for now…

Dell’s New High Performance Analytics & Cloud Server

April 21, 2010

Last but not least in our tour of the first flight of servers in Dell’s PowerEdge C line is the C2100.  This was filmed last month at our launch right after we closed down our whisper suite.  Click below and join solutions architect Rafael Zamora as he leads you through the thrills, chills and spills of this cool new machine.

Spoiler Alert! A few Highlights

  • This machine is a great high performance data analytics and cloud optimized storage server.  It’s perfect for use in conjunction with software from our Cloud ISV partners Joyent, Aster Data, Canonical or Greenplum.
  • The entire front can be jam-packed with disk drives for mega storage.  You can get up to 24TB by loading twelve 3.5inch 2TB drives.
  • While the C2100 has same system board as the  C1100, it comes with twice the real estate in a 2U form factor.
  • There’s even a platform for two additional drives that you can use for a bunch of different purposes such as separating production and non-production traffic.

Pau for now….

Dell Unveils Cloud Solutions (Yippee!)

March 24, 2010

Today is the big day.  The one we’ve been working towards for a long time.  As a part of Dell’s quarterly launch “Solutions for the Virtual Era,” we are announcing the introduction of:

  • Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications, our first Revolutionary cloud solution.  Partnering with enterprise-class cloud pioneer Joyent, we are offering a turnkey private PaaS solution comprised of pre-tested, pre-assembled and fully-supported hardware, software and services — all sold and supported by Dell.  This integrated solution is targeted at enterprise app developers who are looking to develop “new world” applications in the cloud to be deployed in the cloud.
  • The Cloud Partner Program Working with cloud ISVs we will be offering easy-to-buy and deploy cloud solutions and blueprints optimized for and validated on Dell platforms.  The first three partners we are announcing are Aster Data (providing web analytics), Canonical (offering an open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service private cloud) and Greenplum (self-service data warehousing).   (On the Evolutionary cloud side we will continue to work with VMware and Microsoft  and stay tuned for news on what’s happening on the Windows Azure front :).
  • A new line of hyperscale-inspired PowerEdge C servers including the PowerEdge C1100, C2100 and C6100 targeting HPC, data analytics, gaming and cloud builders.  These are based on the designs we have created for the some of the worlds largest internet companies and cloud providers.
  • A suite of cloud professional services to help customers assess, deploy, design and manage dedicated solutions.

This is just a quick overview of what we are announcing today.  Stay tuned for more details and info in the coming days and weeks.

Extra credit reading: Our Cloud solutions press release

Pau for now…

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