Archive for the 'cloud' Category

Serverless computing

I’ve been watching and reading on developments around serverless computing. I’ve never used it myself so only have limited understanding. However, given my extensive knowledge of servers, firmware, OS, Middleware and business applications, I’ve had a bunch of questions.

serverlessnyc

Many of my questions are echoed in this excellent write-up by Jeremy Daly on the recent Serverless NYC event.

For traditional enterprise type customers, it’s well worth reviewing the notes of the issues highlighted by Jason Katzer, Director of Software Engineering at Capital One. While some attendees talk about “upwards of a BILLION transactions per month” using serverlesss, that’s impressive, that’s still short of many enterprise requirements, it translates to 34.5-million transactions per day.

Katzer notes that there are always bottlenecks and often services that don’t scale the same way that your serverless apps do. Worth a read, thanks for posting Jeremy.

Dell Cloud Marketplace Beta

DCMWe’ve launched our new Dell Cloud Marketplace Beta. It is a joint development by the Dell Software Group and Dell Commerce Services and features a number of new innovations.

I’m really not qualified to discuss DCM, I’ve not been part of the team overseeing it, but here is a good blog/forum by a number of the team members with some additional useful information and a place to ask questions.

Some useful press coverage from:

eWeek

ProgrammableWeb

and others.

 

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.”

Welcome to Enstratius

This morning Dell announced the acquisition of Enstratius, formally known as enStratus.

Enstratius complements the capability Dell recently acquired from Gale Technologies, now Active System Manager (ASM), by providing enhanced multi-cloud management and application configuration capabilities and integrates converged offerings with cloud systems management. Additionally, Enstratius has been in partnership with Dell since April 2012 in Dell’s Emerging Solutions Ecosystem Partner Program, and is offered as a component of the Dell OpenStack-Powered Cloud Solution.

Enstratius’ solutions are “cloud agnostic” so our customers can choose any combination of public and private cloud providers, including Dell and non-Dell clouds. The Enstratius technology can be deployed on-premises or consumed as a subscription service that enables full control from within a customer’s data center—giving our customers the flexibility to use the delivery method that best fits their business needs.

Michael Cote has some useful commentary and links over on his Drunk and Retired blog.

Dell Software – Accelerating Results

John Swainson, Dell Software GroupToday was a major day for Dell Software group. Out in San Francisco many of our team and some great customers, were talking about real Dell Software products. Why was this major?

Dell Software BYOD RealityBecause it wasn’t about strategy, it wasn’t about an acquisition, it was about real problems and Dell Software products that customers are using to address those problems. There were some great customer speakers, as well as keynotes and breakout panels. The whole thing was streamed live via livestream, recordings are already up and available.

InfographicBig up also to the marketing team, I must admit Dell puts together some great infographics and this one was one of the best.

[Update: A couple of emails came in. Here is a useful written summary page with links in a Press Release.]

Dell Software and Big Data

The Quest Software R&D integration is moving apace, 25-days into the acquisition and since announcement I’ve now managed to visit 14 R&D locations. I’ve been impressed by the people, many of the existing products, especially their bold move to support customers by getting a set of Office365 and Azure cloud based solutions out early to help customers migrate.

One of the more exciting products and announcements coming from the Quest(now part of Dell) team are the recent cloud data, business intelligence announcements.

CNBC has a good summary of the expansion of our big data solutions, new Hadoop-centric software capabilities for business analytics, which include application development, data replication, and data analysis features.

For me, just five more R&D location visits to go, Berlin, Dresden, Israel, then Poole and Horton in the UK. Then I can maybe catch-up on a huge backlog of blogposts I want to write, in the meantime  , go bigdata!

Back to the future

This week Dell announced 3x major acquisitions, Wyse, Clerity Solutions, and Make Technologies. These acquisitions, once complete, will offer an awesome combination to move apps and customers to the cloud.

  • Wyse provides application virtualization capability which in essence will allow PC based applications to run as terminals in the cloud, accessing them via thin clients, increasingly mobile devices like tablets.
  • Clerity delivers application modernization and re-hosting solutions and services. Clerity’s capabilities will enable Dell Services to help customers reduce the cost of transitioning business-critical applications and data from legacy computing systems and onto more modern architectures, including the cloud.
  • Make Technologies brings application modernization software and services that reduce the cost, risk and time required to re-engineer applications, helping companies modernize their applications portfolios so they can reduce legacy infrastructure operating costs. These applications run most effectively on open, standardized platforms including the cloud.

A great set of solutions to let organizations looking to really get  their older apps into a modern execution and device environment. Exciting times for the Dell team supporting these customers.

This very much reminds me of 14-15 years ago and a whole slew of projects where we were trying to drive similar modernization into applications. IBM Network Station was about to be launched; we had a useful first release of the CICS Transcation Gateway and their was a great start at integrating Java with COBOL based applications and some fledgling work on extending the COBOL language to support object oriented principles. My poster session at the IBM Academy of Technology was on legacy modernization. In those days it was obvious that customers needed tools to help them get from where they’d been to where they would be going.

Enough never really got there, the financial case wasn’t often enough. However, given the performance, scalability and reliability of today’s x86/x64 systems, the lack of progress and demand for change have passed compelling, it’s essential.

Got hybrid?

DrJCL has a useful summary.

DrJCL joins the blogosphere

I’m sure some of my former IBM colleagues will be confused by the JCL reference, but I’m not. I’m delighted to see a new blog from Craig Lowery here at Dell. Craig has been instrumental in the private/public cloud thinking that’s been going on here, as well as working with a number of partners and vendors. I for one am really looking forward to his posts. Craigs’ blog is here and he is DrJCL on twitter.

Eventually consistent

Those interested in the current debate about Big Data, and massively parallel systems, Hadoop et al might want to take a look at this Eventually consistent post I just wrote for my new blog where I’m not sure what I’ll post, mostly ramblings.

And that’s a great example of the difference between eventually consistent and ACID based transaction-based systems. Many but not all IT Professionals understand this. Make sure yours does. In this case it could be the backend database consistency, ie there are multiple copies and they don’t match, or there could be multiple backend copies and the copy in the browser cache, does or doesn’t match. Either way “Houston, we have a problem”.”

Dell Software Group

Michael Dell announced this morning that John Swainson will join Dell to head up our new software group. John was one of the key executives at IBM in the creation and drive behind IBM’s Application and Integration Middleware division.

In the new world of cloud, massive scale datacenters, and the growing importance of mixed private/public cloud demand, it will be very interesting to see where John and the Exec team want to take the software group. Here is the formal press announcement from Corporate comms.

In an indirectly related announcement from earlier in the week, Dave Johnson, our Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy, announced that we were again going to expand our Silicon Valley software and R&D development and investments following our acquisitions of Force10, Scalent and many others. Marketwatch has a useful summary of Daves’ comments.

Dell for Web Development

The web dev. focussed team here at Dell have recently widened their web page offering to add some of the software and solutions work they are doing. Barton George has also recently published a 3-part glossary on all things, web/cloud related. It’s a pretty easy read and for those entering this arena for the first time, a useful cross check when playing cloud buzzword bingo.

Dell for Web Development

Simplicity – It’s a confidence trick

My friend, foil and friendly adversary James Governor posted an blog entry today entitled “What if IBM Software Got Simple?

It’s an interesting and appealing topic. It was in some respects what got in our way last year, it was also what was behind the 1999 IBM Autonomic computing initiative, lets just make things that work. It’s simple to blame the architects and engineers for complexity, and James is bang-on when he says “When I have spoken to IBM Distinguished Engineers and senior managers in the past they have tended to believe that complexity could be abstracted”.

There are two things at play here, both apply equally to many companies, especially in the systems management space, but also in the established software marketplace. I’m sure James knows this, or at least had it explained. If not, let me have a go.

On Complexity

Yes, in the past software had to be complex. It was widely used and installed on hundreds of thousands of computers, often as much as ten years older than the current range of hardware. It was used by customers who had grown up over decades with specific needs, specific tools and specific ways of doing things. Software had to be upgraded pretty much non-disruptively, even at release and version boundaries you pretty much had to continue to support most if not all of the old interfaces, applications, internal data formats and API’s.

If you didn’t you had a revolt on your hands in your own customer base. I can cite a few outstanding examples of where the software provider misunderstood this and learn an important lesson both times, I would also go as far as far as to suggest, the product release marked the beginning of the end. VM/SP R5 where IBM introduced a new, non-compatible, non-customer lead UI; VM/XA Migration Aid, where IBM introduced a new, non-compatible CMS lightweight VM OS; and of course, from the X86 world, Microsoft Vista.

For those products a descision was taken at some point in the design to be non-compatible, drop old interfaces or deliberately break them to support the new function or architecture. This is one example where change brings complexity, the other is where you chose to remain compatible, and carry the old interfaces and API’s. This means that everything from the progamming interface, to the tools, compilers, debuggers etc. now has to support either two versions of the same thing, or one version that performs differently.

Either way, when asked to solve a problem introduced by these changes over a number of years, the only real option is to abstract. As I’ve said here many times, automating complexity doesn’t make things simple, it simply makes them more complex,.

On Simplicity

Simplicity is easy when you have nothing. Get two sticks, rub them together and you have a fire. It’s not so easy when you’ve spent 25-years designing and building a nuclear power station. What do I need to start a fire?

Simplicity is a confidence trick. Know your customers, know your market, ask for what it will take to satisfy both, and stick to this. The less confident your are about either, the more scope creep you’ll get, the less specific you’ll be about pretty much every phase of the architecture, the design and ultimately the product. In the cloud software business this is less of an issue, you don’t have releases per se. You roll out function and even if you are not in “google perpetual beta mode” you don’t really have customers on back releases of your product, and you are mostly not waiting for them to upgrade.

If you have a public API you have to protect and migrate that, but otherwise you take care of the customers data, and as you push out new function, they come with you. Since they don’t have to do anything, and for many of the web 2.0 sites we’ve all become used to, don’t have any choice or advance notice, it’s mostly no big deal. However, there is still a requirement that someone that has to know the customer, and know what they want. In the web 2.0 world that’s still the purview of a small cadre of top talent, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Williams, Page, Schmidt, Brin et al.

The same isn’t true for those old world companies, mine included. There are powerful groups and executives who have a vested interest in what and how products are designed, architected and delivered.  They know their customers, their markets and what it will takes to make them. This is how old school software was envisasaged, a legacy, a profit line, even a control point.

The alternative to complexity is to stop and either start over, or at least over multiple product cycles go back and take out all the complexity. This brings with-it a multi-year technical debt, and often a negative op-ex that ,most businesses and product managers are not prepared to carry. It’s simpler, easier and often quicker to acquire and abandon. In with the new, out with the old.

Happy New Year! I Need…

openstack in Boston

openstack logoFidelity and Dell are hosting the the second in a series of Openstack User Group meetings in Boston on November 29th. They’ve been running in Austin for a while and they have been growing in size and scope on a monthly basis. The most recent, held at the Texas Ranch Start Up incubation center,  had standing room only.

The group were recognized by meetup for having over 100 members of our group. Here is link to meetup registration: http://www.meetup.com/Openstack-Boston/

Dell are looking to sponsor an Dallas in near future, and San Jose area early next year.

Anyone home?

I got an email today that indirectly reminded me I hadn’t posted for a while and they wondered what I was upto. mea culpa.

Actually I’ve changed direction for a while and am busy working on a few “mobile” related projects. We’ve got an MRD that includes a mobile UI for our embedded management, but is lacking a few key features to make a compelling “use case“. So I’ve been digging around both trying to come up with some new IP, as well as getting all the ducks lined up to make this happen. Add to that a couple of pretty interesting corporate business development projects and the BAU stuff and thats where I’ve been.

I’ve had a few web pages bookmarked to share via a blog post when the time was right, that time appears to be now.

Dell AIM Integration Pack for Microsoft Opalis

The Integration Pack for Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM) is an add-on for System Center Opalis that enables you to automate procedures and processes in the Dell AIM environment. This version of Dell AIM IP (v1.0) supports only Microsoft System Center Opalis 6.3 and works with AIM version 3.4.1 [Download here]

In The Press

Next up is an online interview with Sally Stephens, a colleague and VP, PG Enterprise Platform Marketing and some of our top guys in India. In the interview the discuss both cloud and virtualization and makes some important and interesting points. [Read here]

Amongst the coverage of our[Dell] FORCE10 acquisition, this is a useful summary of what I’ve not discussed over the past few months. Notably and most interesting is the inclusion, post acquisition, of FORCE10 into the vStart program. [Read here and here]


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 (bsc.org) I'm an information technology optimist.


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

Subscribe to updates via rss:

Feed Icon

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 920 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 87,378 hits