Meet Roy Guillen — GM of Dell’s DCS group

February 11, 2011

In case you’re not familiar with it, Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group has been around for nearly four years, acting as a “custom tailor” to some of the largest internet superstars and scale-out leaders, organizations like Facebook, Microsoft Azure and Lawrence Livermore national labs.  A year ago DCS added to this custom capability by bringing out a line of specialized servers paired with software solutions targeted at the tier of customers right below these “biggest of the big.”

A changing of the guard
Last March, Roy Guillen took over the helm as the General Manager of the DCS group when the then current GM, Forrest Norrod was promoted to run all of servers at Dell.  Near the end of the year I sat down with Roy to get his thoughts on what made DCS, DCS and learn what success looked like for him.

Some of the ground Roy covers:

  • His Background
  • [0:49] What makes DCS unique within Dell and the industry
  • [2:01] The customer story that best sums up DCS
  • [3:25] The one thing that isn’t well known about DCS
  • [4:18] What does success look like for you?

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…

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…

El Reg love: “Dell’s DCS is a big shiny server star”

October 19, 2010

Timothy Prickett Morgan of everyone’s favorite vulture-branded media site The Register attended a round table discussion we held a few weeks ago in New York.  His piece from that event, which was focused around the cloud, was posted yesterday.

You should check out the whole article but here are some snippets to whet your appetite:

What DCS is all about

For the past several years – and some of them not particularly good ones – Dell’s Data Center Services (DCS) bespoke iron-making forge down in Round Rock, Texas, has been a particularly bright spot in the company’s enterprise business.

The unit has several hundred employees, who craft and build custom server kit for these picky Webby shops, where power and cooling issues actually matter more than raw performance. The high availability features necessary to keep applications running are in the software, so you can rip enterprise-class server features out of the boxes – they are like legs on a snake.

How we’re working with web-based gaming company OnLive

“These guys took a bet on Facebook early, and they benefited from that,” says Perlman [OnLive Founder and CEO]. “And now they are making a bet on us.”

OnLive allows gamers to play popular video games on their PCs remotely through a Web browser and soon on their TVs with a special (and cheap) HDMI and network adapter. The games are actually running back in OnLive’s data centers, and the secret sauce that Perlman has been working on to make console games work over the Internet and inside of a Web browser is what he called “error concealment”.

DCS had to create a custom server to integrate their video compression board into the machine, as well as pack in some high-end graphics cards to drive the games. Power and cooling are big issues. And no, you can’t see the servers. It’s a secret.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…

Onlive’s gaming cloud powered by custom Dell servers

June 15, 2010

Today at E3, OnLive Inc is kicking off the roll out of its cloud gaming service.  OnLive, whose motto is “Just Play,” leverages broadband and the cloud to deliver on-demand gaming titles directly to users’ PCs, Macs or even TVs.

Square Enix's Batman: Arkham Asylum -- one of the first batch of games available from OnLive

This new service could prove to be a real “game changer.”  As Dell Data Center Solutions director Andy Rhodes, helping with the launch at E3 explains, “I see it as the start as of a move of processing power from consoles into data centers…from the center of the living room into the data center.”

Building the OnLive Cloud

So what’s behind this gaming cloud, Dell of course 🙂 (well, at least a good part of it).  The Dell Data Center Solutions (DCS) group began working with OnLive a few years back to design and build custom-tailored systems for the OnLive platform.

The problem statement for the solution was to create an infrastructure that supported the streaming of HD-quality video game over the internet, drove down the total cost of ownership and allowed OnLive to scale quickly as the company grows.  The DCS team worked directly with the folks from OnLive to architect an ultra-dense and uber-power efficient infrastructure solution designed around OnLive’s super secret hardware components and software.  Thousand of these customized systems are now deployed at OnLive data centers around the country.

Plug and Play Racks

By leveraging the DCS supply chain and fulfillment chops, Dell is able to deliver pre-integrated fully racked solutions that can be hooked up and powered on within hours of arriving at an OnLive data center.  Going forward Dell will continue to work with OnLive to create new infrastructure architectures for future generations of the service.

Game on! (and on, and on and on)

Electronic Arts' Mass Attack 2: available via OnLive

Who’s on First?

The initial batch of 23 titles available to OnLive subscribers include:

  • Assassin’s Creed II (Ubisoft)
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum (Square-Enix)
  • Borderlands (Take Two Interactive Entertainment)
  • Dragon Age: Origins (Electronic Arts)
  • Just Cause 2 (Square-Enix)
  • Mass Effect 2 (Electronic Arts)
  • NBA 2K10 (Take Two Interactive Entertainment)
  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Ubisoft)
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction (Ubisoft)

Extra Credit reading

Pau for now…

An overview of the worldwide gaming market

June 11, 2010

Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS) group has both custom offerings and, as we announced a couple of months ago, a new line of systems and solutions targeted at a wider audience.

One the the key markets we are looking at for our new line is gaming.  To get up to speed on the market I took a look at the report that the PC gaming alliance put together for its members.  It was a very cool read.  Here a few things I learned:

Some fun facts to know and tell:

  • Last year the global PC game software market was just over $13B while the global console software market was nearly $20B.
  • The revenue from PC games  is expected to pass the revenue from console software in 2012.
  • Last year China was the leading country for PC game revenue, 99+% which came from non-retail sources e.g. subscriptions and digital distribution.
  • Worldwide piracy is decreasing as PC games move from package software to a service based business where users pay per usage.
  • On a revenue basis the majority or leading PC game companies come from China or South Korea.
  • Biggest growth last year came from the free-to-play (F2P) games where delivery of these games on social networks like Zynga’s Farmville on Facebook took off.

Stay tuned…

Dell has publicly been a big player in the PC gaming market through our line of Alienware systems (in fact we had an announcement yesterday).  Where we have been a lot quieter however is talking about how our Data Center Solutions (DCS) group fits in.   Next week at E3 we will be making an announcement to explain just what we’ve been up to.  So stay tuned next week and see how DCS “plays” in gaming 🙂

Pau for now….

Dell’s Cloud Plans Grab Virtual Ink

February 9, 2010

The Friday before last my boss Andy and I had a call with James Niccolai of IDG.  We chatted about what we’ve been up to at Dell as well as teed up what we have in store for the near distant future.

Here is the result:

To get the full scoop you should read the articles but here are some summary bits from the PCworld article:

The DCS [Data Center Solutions] unit was formed about three years ago to help Dell get more business from large Internet firms. Its engineers often spend several weeks on-site with those companies to design low-cost, low-power systems that meet the special requirements of their search, social networking and other Web applications.

That hands-on role means the DCS group designs servers only for large companies, such as and Microsoft’s Azure division, which order tens of thousands of servers per year. But that’s about to change, Dell executives said in an interview.

Later this year Dell will turn some of those custom servers into standardized products and sell them to companies that order lower volumes of systems, including enterprises building “private cloud” environments in their data centers, and a second tier of smaller Internet companies.

“What we’ve found is, there are a whole bunch of other customers who want access to those designs but who are not buying in those types of quantities,” said Andy Rhodes, a director with Dell’s DCS group. “So the big thing we’re solving now, and we’ll talk more publically about over the next couple of months, is how to provide more of that capability to many, many more customers.”

Stay tuned for more 🙂

Pau for now…

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