Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Hot Aisle – A Data Scientist’s Take on Big Data and Analytics with Bill Schmarzo – Episode 19

The Hot Aisle is hosted by Brent Piatti (@brentpiatti) and Brian Carpenter (@intheDC).  Joining us this Episode is Bill Schmarzo (@schmarzo) the anointed DeanofBigData, author of Big Data Understanding How Data Powers Big Business, Current EMC Big Data CTO, former VP of Analytics for Yahoo & Business Objects.  Of course, he also somehow finds time to teach the Big Data MBA as a professor.  Bill joins us as a renown Big Data and Analytics expert, and you’ll quickly see why.  He has an unbridled passion about gaining insights from data, and teaching others how to do the same!  He’s going to talk about the 4 M’s of Big Data, his next book due out just in time for Christmas, and what John Furrier (@furrier) is to blame for this time… Oh, and something about restrictive organizational cultures killing creativity in business. Grab a seat, and listen in!

Dell World – Modular Building Blocks for Modern Applications [Day 3]

On Day 3 of Dell World, Michael Dell MADE IT RAIN. Literally.  However, the weather outside had no reflection on the mood inside the Austin Convention Center.  The theme of the final day was focused on innovation for the future of IT.  Being future ready means solving new types of problems around the Internet of Things, Analytics, Cloud Native Apps, and the different modern architectures that enables these modern application stacks.

The Dell FX2 line was recently released and takes a unique step towards the flexibility and density that highly efficient Platform 2 environments can leverage, as well as being highly configurable and dense to tackle the requirements of a Platform 3 application design accordingly.

The first time I put my eyes on the FX2, my mind started spinning with curiosities.   I was pretty impressed with the actual form factors available to me.  In 2U, you can deploy 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 -7 – and 8 servers in some crazy number of different scenarios.  Pretty damn cool if you ask me – and still cool even if you don’t ask me.  Servers come in 1U full width, 1U half width, and 1U quarter width configurations with a few varying design options – and there’s also a 1U half width storage node that can be dedicated to a single server, or bifurcated between two servers with up to 16 disks total (8 each in the bifurcated scenario).  * I love saying bifurcated, it’s so fun! reminds me of the 16GB FC cards on a VMAX3, bringing this all back home. *

FX2 FD430 FD630 FD830FX2 FD332FX2 FD332

On October 12, 2015 Dell announced its intentions to acquire EMC.  in the prior week (or so) both Duncan Epping and Rawlinson Rivera posted blogs around the FX2 architecture from a VMware perspective.  Quite serendipitous if you ask me.  So convenient, I couldn’t not share it!

Here’s Duncan Epping’s post on the value of the Dell FX2 platform on VSAN.  Likewise, here’s Rawlinson Rivera’s post on the VSAN ready nodes from the Dell FX2 Family.  My personal preferred design would be (4) FD430 + (2) FD332 in a 2U chassis for VSAN, but the awesome part is there choices are relatively limitless and there’s no right answer!

Circling back to the conversation around being future ready and designing for modern application stacks, there are numerous use cases where an entire FX2 stack of 9 chassis in a single management domain (18U) and / or a single 2U chassis with anywhere from 1-8 servers in various configurations (compute heavy, storage heavy, memory heavy, etc) can be used to deliver modern application stacks.  Designing for OpenStack, VMware, Cloud Foundry, Photon, and Docker is easy and flexible with the modular architecture.  Here’s an article around a reference design for deploying Hadoop on Dell FX2, for example.

The Dell team was nice enough to put a fantastic webpage together that allows you to browse all of their enterprise products more thoroughly through their ESG Virtual Rack site.  You can also directly browse the modular converged server platforms via the Dell Server Virtual Rack.

Dell Server Virtual Rack

I dropped this introductory video in at the bottom so that your ADD didn’t kick in and keep you from reading the rest of the blog post. 🙂   A lot of fun innovation delivered in a very easily consumable form factor.  Coming soon to a lab near me, I hope!

And, if you have a spare 40 minutes, here’s a presentation on Tech Field Day as well:

My co-host on The Hot Aisle, Brent Piatti, also has a post of his own about His Thoughts on Dell VRTX, another product in the Dell Converged Hardware line.  Check it out.

Dell World – Go Big or Go Home, Baby! [Day 2]

“Go Big or Go Home, Baby!”  –  Michael Dell

The only thing Michael didn’t do during the keynote was drop the mic – but I think that’s just because he was wearing a lapel mic – otherwise, he would have done it.  The underlying themes of Dell World 2015 are pretty simple:  This EMC thing we’re doing is great for customers.  This EMC thing we’re doing is great for our company.  This EMC thing is just another step in a long line of decisions we’ve made specifically to further drive our ability to innovate.  Getcha Popcorn Ready!


Kicking off the keynote, Michael Dell recounted numerous analysts and pundits who asked him how or if he’s still going to do acquisitions after taking Dell private. His response? “Go Big or Go Home, Baby!”

Dell dove right in with no lifejacket when discussing the new Federation of companies and the synergies they have.  Leaders in Storage, “Dell and EMC together.  The combined capabilities of this partnership are endless”.  Referencing the 3rd platform, digital transformation, software defined data center, converged infrastructure, hybrid cloud, and more, and reminding the crowd that we become a company that is a leader in 22 Gartner Magic Quadrants together.DELL | EMC

“EMC is the best company in the industry at incubating new technology.  And we plan to mirror the EMC approach of a strategically aligned family of businesses.  And that front-end engine will be backed by Dell’s best-in-class global supply chain.”  This is a distinctly different vision than the street and media have been painting of the merger, and is going to be very fun to watch.

“The best innovation. With the Highest Quality. And the greatest value for customers”


It took roughly 30+ minutes before a single piece of hardware was mentioned in the keynote.  The first product to share the massive video wall was the Dell Datacenter Scalable Solution DSS7000.


The DSS (Datacenter Scalable Solutions) team is a close relative of the DCS (Data Center Solutions) team.  The DCS group creates highly customizable hyper-scale products for telco, oil & gas, service providers, and other customers with highly specialized needs at massive scale.  One example of the DCS team’s work is their MDC (Modular Data Center) solution which is leveraged by the likes of eBay, Bing, Dell Corporate, and many more.  the MDC is a *shipping* container-based solution that is self-contained, open-air cooled, and has one of the best PUE ratings in the industry.

eBay SLC Data Center_Dell EPIC

While DCS is out creating highly customized hyper-scale products like the MDC, DSS is focused down market a bit to customers who need similar repeatable technology but in more of a rack scale conversation.  DSS products can be customized, but not nearly to the variety of DCS in order to make it easy to deploy and ship in massive quantities.  Along with the DSS7000, the DSS line features the DSS1500 and 2500.

DSS 1500:  1U, 1CPU or 2CPU, 2.5″ or 3.5″ drive bay options.
DSS 2500:  2U, 2CPU, 3.5″ drive bay. (2.5″ drives can be mounted in the 3.5″ sled.
DSS 7000:  4U, 2 Server, 2 CPU, 3.5″ drive bay. (2.5″ drives can be mounted).  Each server can address 45 drives.  90 drives total.

When speaking with the product managers for the DSS line, they had discussed 2.5″ drive bays for higher density on the 2500, but they felt there was not enough interest for that density at this time.  I suggested it would be pretty easy to change the bay and backplane – they said it definitely would, and they would do it for the first customer that asked for a proper quantity. (you hear that, VCE?)

Looking at the conversation from a scale perspective, Dell enables EMC to address software-defined center solutions at the hyper-scale (DCS), rack-scale (DSS), and appliance level – or basically any customer use case that can be dreamed up.  Combine that with the information we’re gathering today on the FX2 and VRTX lines of business (coming soon to a blog post near you!) and add the ability to do very unique data center, ROBO, and microserver implementations as well.  More to come on Open NFV innovations, FX/VRTX, Cloud Solutions, and more – but for now we’ll leave you with a few detail pictures of the DSS line:


DSS1500 DSS1500 RearDSS1500 Top

DSS2500   DSS2500 RearDSS2500 Top

My co-host on The Hot Aisle, Brent Piatti, has a post on his thoughts for Day 2 of Dell World as well.  Check it out.

Dell World is a Wonderland [Day 1]

“When given a fantastic opportunity, there is nothing more you can do than to drop everything and take advantage of it.” 

– Lots of Smart People, Numerous Times

You probably assumed I was referencing Michael Dell (and you Silver Lake guys too) having an opportunity to work out a partnership / merger with EMC, didn’t you?

The Hot Aisle - AustinNOPE.  Well, yes, but no.  #TheHotAisle is here at Dell World 2015.  Brent Piatti and I are here to dig into what Dell really means to the EMC Family.  We’re going to leave no laptop unturned as we search for their innovations and culture from the far corners of Austin, TX  – to bring them back to you.


We somehow fooled people into thinking that we’re part of this new Dell Federation of things, grabbed a few passes, and headed into Day 1 to see what we could find.  Dell World is our Wonderland.  What better way to start it than the official press conference – featuring our allegedly-future-fearless-leader Michael Dell himself (50 days and counting? is that
business days, or just… days?).  The press conference was packed with what seemed to be about 300 press, analysts, and a few (2?) EMC employees doing their best to blend in…The Hot Aisle - Dell Press Conference

A few key highlights about the press conference. My thoughts – you can see the tempered excitement.  Clearly there are things they’re not saying, or don’t want to say just yet.  Dell commented that he’s really happy that the EMC Acquisition news was a few weeks ago so that the innovations they’re announcing tomorrow can actually have the spotlight they deserve.  Also, Dell is the king of the one word answer.  It’s pretty hilarious.  “So, do you see the path to enlightenment being this one crazy theory, or are you just doing this other common thing that everyone else thinks you’re doing?”  “NO.” – MD

After a few customer stories (check them out on Dell World Live) the Executive team came up.  Time for Q&A!  Guess what… it was 90% Dell / EMC questions. Who woulda thunk?

Dell World - Executive Team

Dell’s answer was pretty clear – Scale, and fewer Vendors.

Next came questions about the PC business – which the answers were pretty clear.  Learned a lot here about their strategy (against apple) their breadth (of machines all the way out to IoT) and their market penetration (they’re huge in China!).

When asked about Meg Whitman’s comments about the Acquisition from her position over at rival HP:

More thoughts to come on the press conference, but it really will only be relevant after the keynote this morning!They had a fun reception after the press conference, with lots of opportunity for selfies with Michael.  I’m not sure who was more excited about this one, him or Amy. 😉

Oh, and creepshots of people taking selfies with Michael too.

Brent and I hung at the press conference just long enough to not get a selfie with the undisputed king – and headed over to the Austin Convention Center where they had an opening night reception filled with food trucks (yeah, it was awesome), live bands, and thousands of people wearing name badges.

After hanging out in the expo hall a bit, we chilled with our boy John Mayer, and then headed off to collect our thoughts.


There’s a lot of opinions out there right now about the new possibilities with DELL | EMC. Here’s mine …

Achieve Greatness

My co-host on The Hot Aisle, Brent Piatti, also has a post of his own about Dell World’s Opening Day.  Check it out.

The Hot Aisle – Relax, You’re Too Hyper-Converged with Brad Maltz – Episode 18

This week on The Hot Aisle, your hosts Brent Piatti (@BrentPiatti) and Brian Carpenter (@intheDC) get beaten senseless with heaps of converged & hyper-converged goodness.  We learn from EMC’s Sr. Director of Converged Infrastructure & ‘closeted VCDX’, Brad Maltz (@bmaltz),  about “how”, “why”, and “what” the whole Converged Infrastructure + Hyper-Converged Infrastructure + Disaggregated Hardware movement is coming from.  Clear your minds and your calendar; you’ll want to hear this!

The Hot Aisle – Digital Supply Chain and SAP HANA with John Appleby – Episode 17

The Hot Aisle is hosted by Brent Piatti (@brentpiatti) and Brian Carpenter (@intheDC).  Joining us this Episode is John Appleby (@applebyj) of Bluefin Solutions – a global consultancy focused on SAP, SAP HANA, digitization, analytics, mobile, and more.  John joins us as renown SAP HANA expert, keynote speaker, and SAP Mentor.  We discuss the rapidly evolving subject of digitizing supply chain sales process and where SAP and Bluefin fit in that world.  John explains the value of shifting traditional ERP into in-memory databases, where SAP is headed with HANA VORA, and where Hadoop and other emerging technologies deliver business benefit.  Grab a seat and enjoy the ride while John gives us an education!