Archive for June, 2013

TechWeekEurope UKSoftware Will Make A Quarter Of Dell’s Profits – Swainson

Great software overview of what’s going on here at Dell.

Interview: John Swainson, president of Dell Software

Cliff Saran over at Computer Weekly has a brief but useful interview with Dell Software Chief, John Swainson. I know a few of our new team have been asking questions about joining, supporting and working with open source communities, especially the  Eclipse open source project. You can read it here.

More on the Dell PowerEdge VRTX

While my blog is called “Adventures in SystemsLand” while I’ve diverted off to another one of those occasional career tracks that has me working in a non-systems area, it remains something I will continue to post on.

Tomorrow, the Dell Tech Center  are having one of their regular Dell TechChats On The Systems Management Features Of VRTX. It’ starts at 3pm central time.

You’ve seen the announcements of the new VRTX product launch, heard the VRTX Systems Management Overview by Kevin Noreen. and seen the videos so take it one step deeper on feature details with Roger Foreman, Product Manager for the Chassis Management Controller.

Dell TechCenter page –

Introducing PowerEdge VRTX – Direct2Dell Blog

VRTX Product Page –

I’ve put in my calendar and will be listening in, join me.

Dell Enterprise Forum

I watched along with some of the sessions via Live video link, which worked pretty well. Some of the announcements I knew about, updates to Active System Manager, the new Dell PowerEdge VRTX (vertex) solution for home office, remote office. This summary was provided in an internal email of the weeks activities and announcements, but contains all external links, Enjoy!

“This week, Dell brought together more than 1,400 customers, partners, sponsors, team members, media, industry analysts and members of the social media community at Dell Enterprise Forum. At the event, five new enterprise solutions were unveiled alongside the announcement of an expanded partnership with Oracle. Reception to the new converged infrastructure and storage products – including the PowerEdge VRTX, which has already received an Innovative Product award, the new Active Infrastructure 1.1, the Dell Active Infrastructure for HPC Life Sciences and Modular Data Center updates as well as an All Flash Compellent storage array and Storage Center 6.4 – has been favorable across the world.”

Dell Software Analyst and Strategy Update

I know from conversations while cycling and running with friends and industry contacts here in Austin people want to know what is going on here at Dell, and especially in Dell Software Group. Last week a few key executives and senior colleagues held the 2013 Dell Annual Industry Analyst Conference. I didn’t attend, put there are a great set of short videos and pictures here, on Flickr, which reflect much of the detail covered.

When Patents Attack, Part Deux

I’m superpumped and have my headphones in, in my cube in the Dell “mau5hau5”. This weekends “This American Life” has returned to the topics of patents, especially software patents. Their June 2011 original episode was a classic expose of the patent system, many of the seemingly ridiculous conundrums that it involves, and why the patent system still embodies the classic American wild west way of making money, it’s a halfway house between a shakedown and a goldrush.

Interestingly patents have been at the front of my mind recently. A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Dell patent awards dinner. Michael Dell was in attendance along with many of the Dell senior technical staff and executives, including my current and prior boss, legal and the Dell Inventor of the Year. All great stuff. I have no patents. This year I’ve declined to be named on two patents. One, which uses NFC, was soley my idea, I pushed to get it considered, I did the initial design, the software and app design. Yet, two or three people who were luke warm to the idea, are being named on the patent. They’ve actually been working on the actual design implementation.

This is good stuff. Morally and intellectually I’ve been against patents, especially software patents since they came into being. Between 1979-1987 I learned my craft, most of my skills from reading IBM source code. During that time, IBM for various reasons, many misguided, some legal, slowly withdrew source code. These days few would ever consider being able to read the entire original source code for their products, while others, in the Linux community but increasing the wbe and database and applications, wouldn’t consider running or using a product that didn’t have source code.

And so it was, throughout my career at IBM I declined numerous(approx. 15) to be named on a patent. It cost me financially through lack of awards, but not in promotion and pay increases. However, mostly through the relationship I had with IBM Senior Vice President, Nick Donofrio, I learned the value to the company of patents and why it was essential. The same has been true here at Dell(approx 6.). So while the system exists, companies at least have to play the game.

When a widely popular, and broadly heard program such as This American Life gets involved, you know the end is coming. Grab your headphones and listen along to “When Patents Attack Part II”.

About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I am a Fellow of the British Computer Society ( I'm an information technology optimist.

I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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