The Year In Review…

I need to first apologize to my readers…it’s been several weeks since I wrote anything.  I had some personal business to attend to that kept me away from writing, and in that time, so much has happened…I don’t know where to start.  So rather than figure that out, I’d like to look back at some of the biggest stories of the year in terms of how the Cloud evolution started the year, and how it ended the year.  No…it isn’t a timeline approach and I am sure I’ll miss something as there was SO much that changed this year in Cloud.  But an exciting year it was, and an exciting year it will be in 2012.  At least until we all die on December 21st.To me there were really five BIG stories of the year; OpenStack, Big Data (focusing around Hadoop), MicroServers, Steve Jobs and Angry Birds.  The first three topics relate to Cloud in, well…pretty simple and easy to understand ways.  Steve Jobs…I am mentioning him not for the iCloud (which I think is really pretty slick) but for his contribution to technology as a whole.  Not to make mention of him would be silly as I can’t remember the last time I ever saw any news organization break into their programming to run a special report on the passing of ANY business leader…except Steve.  Angry Birds…what can I say but “curse you creators of video game crack!  I can’t put it down!”  For now though, we’ll start with OpenStack.

It’s one thing when you can get two or three companies to work together to create anything…and when it happens, it is normally a very positive thing.  However, when OpenStack was announced to the world it was simply amazing that you saw in excess of fifty companies (Dell included) being on the list of contributors.  To date, there are now over one hundred twenty companies that are participating, and that is great for everyone.  It reminds me of the days of Linux when you had an entire community behind the initiative.  Oh…the good ole days!  Anyway, people are so excited about it because they see a real alternative to what was the defacto standard in Cloud, Amazon’s EC2 and S3 offerings.  When I first started discussing OpenStack with customers there was a great deal of skepticism around it.  “Who would use THAT” would eventually come up.  My reply “NASA, for starters”.  The conversation generally got back on track.  I guess they figure if it is good enough for a bunch of rocket scientists, it is good enough for them.  But it isn’t just about an Open Source Cloud, but rather what is possible when you get an entire community together.  Enter the Crowbar utility from Dell, or as well call it, the “Cloud Unboxer”.  The idea…deploy a Cloud in hours…not days, and then continue to deploy as you need to using the same utility.  That same technology has been expanded to our Hadoop offering.  You can download the Crowbar utility as well as the bar clamps that go along with it, or you can get a complete turnkey solution from Dell.  Either way, OpenStack clearly deserves its place in the top stories of 2011.

The next thing on the list of top stories would have to be Big Data, and specifically the Hadoop application stack that is gaining in popularity.  How popular is Hadoop?  Well, I don’t know exactly how I would manage to come up with a popularity content for it, but I do know that if you can sell out a trade show / conference weeks before it is scheduled to be held in New York City, and you can do it in this economy, you must be doing something right…and such is the case with Hadoop and the 2011 Hadoop World Expo, put on by the folks from Cloudera.  While there are clearly many solutions for Big Data, Hadoop has such a large community following and supporting it, there seems to be less and less interest in other solutions such as Aster Data (which was purchased by Tera Data earlier in the year) and GreenPlum, which was purchased by EMC last year.  Not to short-change these products…they are solid and they have their place in the Enterprise, but the fact is that Open Source utilities are once again showing that they can compete against the heavier incumbents, and do very well.  Again, I go back to Linux and OpenStack.

Third, but certainly not in any order, is the emergence of the Microserver.  Dell’s Data Center Solutions team released two offerings that really changed the way people thought about power, density, cores and compute power.  The c5000 series was not Dell’s first venture into the Microserver line.  You might recall that back in 2009 we released a product called “Fortuna” which was built for a specific customer (like most of the DCS product line) with specific needs.  While a great platform, it didn’t address the needs for a larger audience, so the c5000 series was launched in 2011 offering amazing density and efficiency.  With both an AMD and Intel offering, the c5000 line offers something for everyone from hosters, to Cloud builders, to Hadoop farms and everything in between.  Breaking it down to something practical, when you can put 168 servers in a 42u rack, and do so at 7kw per rack, it tells a pretty compelling story.  Of course power numbers will vary depending on the config of the nodes, but that should be enough to get you excited about a truly revolutionary technology.  Of course there are companies that have tried to imitate the Dell offering, but when it comes to experience in the market, there isn’t anyone else who can tell the story that we do.

Last but not least, Steve Jobs.  This is, in the mind of many, the top story of 2011 because of the impact he had on the world through the use of the technology his company brought us.  I remember my first computer was an Apple II.  I later migrated to a Macintosh and eventually into Unix and Linux systems (which I still love to this day).  When the iPod came out, I bought one (reluctantly) because I liked my CD’s (the few that I had) but quickly saw the advantage of being able to listen to everything I wanted, from music to podcasts, and eventually video podcasts…it was a no-brainer.  When the iPhone came out though, I thought “here we go…another company venturing off into something that isn’t their core.  It will suck”.  Wow…was I wrong, and I freely admit that I have a love affair with Siri (as does everyone else I know who has an iPhone 4S.)  The iPad…what can you say except, who woulda thunk it.  I remember that when it first was rumored, people were saying things like “it’s just a big iPhone” and other disparaging comments.  Now, it is the way we do things, and my iPad2 goes EVERYWHERE with me…and I mean EVERYWHERE.  The Walter Isaacson Biograpy of Steve Jobs painted a picture of Steve that was not always flattering.  But whether you liked Steve or hated Steve, you cannot deny that his impact on the world of technology (including bringing Cloud technology to the masses via the iCloud), he left the world a better place.  I never knew Steve, though I did see him more than once at various Silicon Valley establishments in the years I worked with companies in the Bay Area.  But I know people that knew him directly, and while they say he was tough to work for, he demanded excellence and game them the desire to be better at what they do.  And isn’t that what it is all about…being the best and giving your best?  Thank you Steve for your impact on the world of technology.

Oh…I can’t forget Angry Birds.

So long 2011.  Parts of you were great, parts of you I’ll be happy to see go away.  Now…bring on 2012!

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