Month: February 2021
A new idea has taken hold: data is the new oil. This concept misses the mark as data unlike oil doesn’t depreciate or deplete with use. In fact, it expands in its worth as it is collected and used. Which is why it just might be the most valuable asset a company owns.In a sense it is a perpetual value machine.Data Doesn’t DepreciateData doesn’t suffer from inflation. The more data you have, the better it works, no single data point becomes less significant by having more of them. Data works inversely with how we see the traditional world of resources like oil. If you can process and analyze it then hoarding data makes all the sense in the world.If you look at the way healthcare organizations are starting to plan around wearables and IoT, you get a great example just why it doesn’t depreciate. They see the ability to gather point in time data as critical to preventative care going forward. Both the frequency in which they can poll the device as well as the historical records are important for care providers in administering care.Consider someone with high blood pressure. By continuously monitoring heart rate and other vitals and cross-referencing patient activity, a doctor can more accurately manage the patient. Provide prescriptive guidance without a physical presence and allowing the patient to take a more active role in their care.Data Doesn’t DepleteWhen you use a piece of data to answer one question that doesn’t invalidate its use for another. Back to the oil analogy the minute if I burn oil to power something or turn it into plastic its usage has become fixed and finite. The digital world doesn’t play by these rules. In fact, there is a virtue in using the same data set to solve a great many problems as it creates consistency in the answers.Look at the security camera footage of retailers, typically it is deleted every 72 hours, and serves only is useful for loss prevention. If they were to take that data and apply machine learning to it just how valuable would that data become?Using data for more use cases only increase its value. Imagine if a firm like Sears had kept all this surveillance video and leveraged it for business insights, they would enjoy a better market position today. In-store advertising, product placement, seasonality, optimal employee staffing levels; these are just some of the competitive advantages Sears might have enjoyed.It’s Not Without CostWhile the data itself offers endless possibilities, there are corresponding expenses. Infrastructure costs can be challenging to account for especially as unstructured data continues to grow exponentially. Then there is the analytics infrastructure required to reduce the time to insights which can be a major budget hurdle. Finally, the human costs are significant as data scientists, economists, and statisticians are hard to find and command a premium salary.For all these reasons its critical that organizations should focus their digital transformation around high-value opportunities and challenges that are readily achievable.Thoughtfulness in the Data Platform Decision will Unlock ValueOften organizations prioritize the application or the target device in their decision tree, but this can lead to problems on the backend in how to collect, store, and make use of the data. If the wrong platform is selected it can mean; additional cost overhead for infrastructure, having to wait on analytics and create time-consuming workflows that stand between your specialists and the answers.There is a need to begin asking more questions sooner about what data is important and what do you want to do with it. Failure to do so and you risk not retaining it and hurting the business.Data is the differentiator for a modern business. The endless value potential is there, but first, you must solve how you will collect and extract it. Having a data platform that doesn’t impose boundaries, and delivers the flexibility to consume data as the business need requires is essential to success.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of SQL PASS Summit and once again Dell EMC was there! For myself personally, this was the 8th year I’ve attended. For Dell EMC, like most attendees, it marks the unofficial end of the SQL Saturday year and the beginning of a new one. SQL Saturdays provide great local access to a community of like-minded SQL Server professionals and SQL PASS brings roughly 4,000 of those to Seattle, WA to share ideas, gain insight on features of new releases, and talk to vendors like Dell EMC about their challenges and what we can do to help address those needs.Attendees woke up early on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and were hungry for knowledge on Dell EMC’s SQL Solutions. Wednesday morning, we held an “Empowering SQL Server DBAs with Dell EMC Storage” session which focused on the unique combination of capabilities with Dell EMC AppSync and our enterprise storage products.So many DBAs struggle to maintain a wide range of different Microsoft SQL Server versions within their environment, often spread across equally as many hardware configurations. Leveraging the right storage platform can elevate the overall capabilities of a typical environment. Having consistent data services, like thin provisioning, compression, deduplication, snapshots, replication… and many more can raise all ships! Furthermore, combining those data services with outstanding performance and self-service capabilities for protection and repurposing of Microsoft SQL Databases yield a space efficient and agile solution which is unmatched in the industry.During the Wednesday morning keynote, Dell EMC’s most recent certified Microsoft Data Warehouse Fast Track solution was on display. With the smallest array-based solution already in the catalog, we added the largest to the catalog as well. A 200TB balanced SQL Server solution that combines PowerEdge R940 with the SC9000 storage array allows you to get your SQL Server deployment right the first time. This solution is designed to handle extremely demanding, mission critical workloads and very large databases.The Thursday session, “BOOST Your SQL Backup with Data Domain and Ola Hallengren’s Scripts” was again a full house with at least 80% of the attendees actively using Ola’s scripts today for their backup needs. Dell EMC and Ola have partnered to add support for Data Domain Boost and its industry-leading de-duplication to Ola Hallengren’s award-winning SQL Server Maintenance Solution. Our technology and Hallengren’s scripts are designed for mission-critical environments and advanced backup scenarios, leveraging the latest features in SQL server.During the 3 days when the expo was open, many SQL PASS Summit attendees brought their questions to our booth. Whether it is an existing configuration that they are looking to modernize, a question on the functionality of their existing products, or just to follow-up on something said in the breakfast sessions, we had the right staff available to answer all the hard-hitting questions.As we say goodbye to the first 20 years of PASS Summit… we look forward to seeing you again at a SQL Saturday near you!
Dell Technologies recently sponsored Haitian post-college professional Nahomie Auguste’s trip to One Young World, a global forum that gathers young leaders from around the world to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. This year’s forum was held in London.Nahomie had twice applied for sponsorships to attend One Young World; however, she was rejected both times. But Nahomie refused to give up. She shared with me that she remembered the advice of her father who told her to “never be ashamed to ask for information.” After attending a Dell Technolgies workshop at a Haiti Tech Summit led by Patricia Floriss, Nahomie contacted Patricia about Dell sponsoring her to come to One Young World…and the rest was history. During One Young World, Nahomie was also lucky enough to meet speakers like Caroline Casey of Valuable 500 and Oscar Anderson who is doing work in Vietnam with people who have cerebral palsy.She also met various Dell Technologies team members; namely, Thomas Leplatre, Sarah Loveridge, and David Coughlan. They all shared insights on what the organization is doing to transform people’s lives and in the area of sustainability. Nahomie was impressed by the “just be you” culture that Dell Technologies encourages as well as our employee resource groups (ERGs) and what they stand for, particularly the Women in Action ERG, as Nahomie shared that she has frequently been the only woman in a room full of men. When asked if she would consider a career at Dell Technologies in the future, with great enthusiasm she said, “ Yes, now all I have to do is convince them to open an office in Port-au-Prince, work remotely, or move to Texas!”Nahomie’s story is an example of how at Dell Technologies, we are committed to driving human progress. Through our reach, technology and people we strive to create a positive and lasting impact on humankind and the planet. We hope that those who attended One Young World carry this message forward into the future.
Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Big Data – never before has a technological development woven itself into our day-to-day lives as quickly and as deeply as digitalization has. At the same time, climate change and a growing number of social injustices are forcing us to scrutinize the way we do business from the ground up. Is digitalization in danger of exacerbating environmental degradation and social division in the way the German Federal Government’s Environmental Advisory Board warned us about back in the spring? Or is it actually a real opportunity for sustainability and a fair future? In my opinion, it’s the latter.Of course, that doesn’t automatically make digitalization an advancement towards curbing environmental degradation and promoting social cohesion. Rather, politicians and companies have to face up to the challenge of making new technological opportunities usable for global sustainable development in the coming years. This starts with curbing the consumption of resources and energy accelerated by digitalization so as to keep the negative impact on our environment as low as possible. It’s equally important to counteract the growing social gap around the world by using new technology to provide people with access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and energy. On top of that, people themselves cannot be left behind – regardless of whether advances in automation radically restructure the labor market or if people’s professional futures are decided by algorithms.Dell Technologies is well aware of its responsibilities towards people and the environment. We have set ourselves ambitious targets to meet by 2030 as part of the new CSR program Progress Made Real. The program focuses on three key areas: promoting sustainability within our organization to protect our planet together with our customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, cultivating an inclusive culture to give people who fall through the cracks of traditional systems an opportunity, and improving quality of life with the help of technology.A nice example of this is our solar-powered Learning Labs, which we develop in collaboration with Computer Aid International. Shipping containers are fitted with Dell Wyse Thin clients and an air-cooled PowerEdge server to convert them into mobile classrooms, while solar panels provide electricity. These mobile classrooms enable people to receive an education, even in the planet’s most remote regions. The first Lab was opened in 2014 and there are now 20 of these school containers in South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Mexico, and Colombia. This number is expected to reach 100 by 2030.The targets Dell Technologies has set for itself also include more diversity and equal opportunities: discrimination remains a ubiquitous presence in everyday life. If people are honest, each and every one of us thinks in stereotypes from time to time. But as a company, it is our duty to actively change this way of thinking. We drive forward various projects that promote non-traditional ways of recruiting staff, for example. I’m convinced that in the future, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence will mean we’ll be able to identify each individual person’s unique skills. For example, companies will rely on AI to reduce human prejudice in the recruitment process, manage the formation of the best teams in the workplace, and stimulate increases in productivity, morale, and staff retention.Protecting our environment and using resources sustainably are also a duty for an IT group in particular. As part of Progress Made Real, we want an equivalent “old” device to be recycled for every new product that a customer purchases from us by 2030. Plus, more than half of all product components will be made from recycled or renewable materials. We’ve already achieved a great deal: some 900 million kilograms of used electronic parts have already been recovered through programs such as Dell Reconnect and Asset Resale and Recycling Services. Over 45 million of recycled components, plastics, and other materials have been reused in new Dell Technologies products.But these are just a few examples. The fact of the matter is that a sustainable and integrative business model that is becoming of its name has never been as important as it is today. Yes, we’ve made significant progress in terms of protecting the environment and making local and global communities stronger, but we’re still a long way off our target and there’s still a lot of work ahead. But if we use technology sensibly, it can make a vital contribution to improving sustainable developments.
In the first two blogs in this series we discovered what a programmable fabric is and what it looks like. Now we are ready to dive deeper into programmable fabrics and discover Network Function offload.Telecom communication service providers need to provision Network Functions (NFs) in their infrastructure in order to run the network. NFs like a BNG (Broadband Network Gateway) for terminating fixed access subscribers or UPF (User Plane Function) for terminating 5G wireless subscribers. These NFs have been evolving from physical boxes to virtual network functions and their disaggregation is key to being able to truly scale and grow the network.However, the evolution of NFs to date has been fraught with performance and scaling problems as legacy BNG and UPF vendors looked to quickly virtualize their NFs without taking advantage of newer technologies and architectures. Programmable fabrics is one such technology that could potentially help scale NFs by allowing their user plane portions (the most I/O intensive portion) to be “offloaded” into the network.Figure 1 – Network Function OffloadCUPS (Control User Plane Separation) is the terminology used to describe the separation of the control plane part of a network function (NF-c) and the user plane portion of the network function (NF-u). This separation of control and user planes allows them to be scaled independently and for the user plane to be pushed down into the programmable forwarding engine of the SmartNIC or Switch (see diagram below). This frees up the server CPU cores from doing mundane packet processing and all the performance and tuning problems that this normally brings in a DPDK environment (i.e. Hugepages, NUMA balancing, CPU pinning, etc).Stand alone mode: where the NF-c will use the standardized DP interfaces (i.e. P4 Runtime, gNMI and gNOI) to communicate directly to the Data Plane nodes. This is useful in the early stages of a programmable fabric implementation where the coming together of the PFE pipelines into a single data plane node is premature and not practical (i.e. the early implementations are more likely to implement separate BNG, UPF and Fabric Management pipelines on separate SmartNICs and switches). Figure 1 – Network Function OffloadFabric Controller mode:where the NF-c will use the standardized Fabric Controller interfaces to configure and manage the NF user plane (NF-u) function in the PFE pipeline in the data plane node. While this is probably the optimal future state it will take clearly defined Fabric Controller interfaces and appropriate policy and collaboration from all NF applications.Figure 3 – NF-c in Fabric Controller modeNF-u PipelineThe user plane portion of the network function (i.e. NF-u) is pushed down into the programmable forwarding engine (i.e. SmartNIC or Switch) into what we call the “pipeline.” The pipeline is basically the set of functions that get applied to each and every packet as it comes into the SmartNIC or Switch. We use a network domain specific programming language called P4 to describe this pipeline.When NFs need to be added to a single P4 pipeline this can then complicate the pipeline and requires some coordination of access to the individual P4 tables as can be seen in the addition of the BNG functional block to the general fabric pipeline depicted below.Figure 4 – P4 pipelineThe ONF Stratum project is used to provide the Data Plane Agent (DP-Agent) and provides standardized northbound interfaces (P4 Runtime, gNMI & gNOI) for the NF control plane (i.e. BNG-c) and integrates south bound to the Intel PAC N3000 FPGA SmartNIC.ONF’s Stratum is also integrated into other switches, with both programmable and fixed pipelines and more will be integrated over time. This then allows the hardware integration to Stratum to be done once and then leveraged by many different NF vendors rather than each vendor needing to do a customer integration to a SmartNIC or Switch. More information on the ONF Stratum project can be found here.Network Function offload is a very interesting use case for Telecommunication providers as it will allow them to truly scale their NFs, while freeing up server CPU cores to do other edge use case processing (IoT aggregation, Augmented Reality, Content Delivery, and so forth). Dell Technologies is committed to helping our customers build out the next generation Telco Edge using open standards where possible like our Open Programmable Service Edge architecture.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick is lying in honor in the U.S. Capitol. The memorial Tuesday evening allows colleagues and the lawmakers he protected to pay their respects and to remember the violent attack on Congress that took his life. President Joe Biden and the first lady paid tribute to Sicknick during a brief appearance at the memorial. The officer died the day after a violent mob besieged the Capitol. The mob interrupted the electoral count on Jan. 6 after then-President Donald Trump urged supporters in a speech to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat.
NEW YORK (AP) — A hedge fund founder has pleaded guilty to defrauding Neiman Marcus creditors by pressuring an investment bank not to bid against his hedge fund to buy securities from them. Marble Ridge Capital founder Daniel Kamensky pleaded guilty Wednesday to bankruptcy fraud in Manhattan federal court. Sentencing was set for May 7 for the 48-year-old Roslyn, New York, resident. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Kamensky abused his position as a committee member in the Neiman Marcus bankruptcy to corrupt the asset distribution process to take extra profits for himself and his hedge fund. Authorities say he coerced a competitor to withdraw a bid for bankruptcy estate assets that was higher than his hedge fund would offer. Kamensky’s lawyer says his client deeply regrets his conduct.