InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services https://infocus.dellemc.com DELL EMC Global Services Blog Mon, 18 Jun 2018 09:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Windows 10 Migration: Should You Shift Left, or Right? https://infocus.dellemc.com/colin_sainsbury/windows-10-migration-should-you-shift-left-or-right/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/colin_sainsbury/windows-10-migration-should-you-shift-left-or-right/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 09:00:03 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35559 The time has finally come when many organisations are taking on Windows 10 migration. The software was first released in July 2015 and has matured through six releases, bringing the stability that enterprises are looking for. Software vendors have had time to ensure that their applications are available in Windows 10 compatible versions. There is […]

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The time has finally come when many organisations are taking on Windows 10 migration. The software was first released in July 2015 and has matured through six releases, bringing the stability that enterprises are looking for. Software vendors have had time to ensure that their applications are available in Windows 10 compatible versions. There is also the looming demise of support for Windows 7 due to the removal of hardware support or the need to migrate from it before the software support window closes.

Equally, user experience is now becoming a significant part of the conversation with any IT department. As developed economies achieve high levels of employment, there is more competition to attract the brightest and best talent. It is no longer just about the pay and benefits package, but now includes softer items like the type and mobility of devices and the inclusion of current applications.

Many organisations have built up significant technical debt within their organisations and their devices are now over four years old. They are therefore looking at large scale programmes to replace their end user compute estates and migrate to Windows 10 on the new equipment

The question becomes – how do they do this in the most appropriate way?

Shift Left

Traditional device replacement programmes have relied on a wave of upgrade activity propagating through the organisation. This usually took the form of buying new devices, shipping them to a staging location, perhaps provided by a third party, imaging them and delivering them to the end user. This is shown in the diagram below:

Traditional Device Replacement Programme

Many of the activities shown above can be more efficiently performed in the factory location using Dell’s Configuration Services capabilities. This approach removes the need for the staging location and the cost of shipping leg, reducing the carbon footprint of the organisation and contributing to their social responsibility goals.

Staging centres used in the past have been connected to the enterprise network and the systems built there, rather than at the deskside. This usually involves extending automated OS deployment tooling into that location. Dell’s Connected Configuration solution, part of its ProDeploy Plus offer, allows enterprises to use our regional distribution hubs as their staging centres. The result is shown in the diagram below:

“Shift Left:” Use of Dell Regional Distribution Hubs for Staging

This approach saves time and money as the devices are imaged before they start their final delivery leg and arrive at the desk, ready for the user to start work. They only need to install their elective applications, those used over and above the standard for their department. Providing that they have access to a self-service application store such as the Software Center included within SCCM, they can do this easily in a similar way to using their smartphone app store.

Dell refers to this efficiency gain as Shift Left optimisation—we have the facilities to scale beyond those of most organisations in terms of throughput per day etc. Furthermore, our regional distribution hubs are situated such that all devices for a given territory will transit from that location anyway so it is much more efficient than using a third-party staging facility.

Data and settings migration may still require technical assistance, but these days more and more organisations are moving to Enterprise Files Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions such as OneDrive for Business. These disciplined users only need to sign in to their tool and their data will start to be replicated to the new device.

Dell’s Managed Deployment teams can provide support for these deskside activities, should it be required, as well as providing resources to hand out the new devices and collect the legacy ones, dealing with packaging removal as part of the task.

Shift Right

Microsoft has been promoting the idea that Windows 10 can be provisioned, note, not imaged, using the AutoPilot process much more easily and at less cost than the traditional imaging methods. The idea here is that the device is shipped with a standardised OEM operating system image on it and a hardware device ID is registered with Microsoft to enable the AutoPilot process.

In practice, this transfers much of the work shown in figure 1 to the end user. This is often marketed as user enablement or empowerment but what does that mean in practice?

The end user is now responsible for:

  1. Collecting their new device from a tech bar or similar distribution location.
  2. Unboxing the device and installing it to their desk.
  3. Going through a tailored Windows 10 out of box experience (OOBE).
  4. Logging into the device with their Azure Active Directory credentials thereby “joining the device to the domain” and drawing down policy settings and triggering mandatory software installs such as Office 365 Pro Plus.
  5. Install additional applications from the Mobile Device Management Application Store or the Windows Store for Business (WSfB).
  6. Sign in to their EFSS solution (OneDrive for Business etc.).
  7. Wait whilst their applications are downloaded and installed from the application store or WSfB. (This could take a while dependent on bandwidth and size of applications.)
  8. Wait whilst their data synchronises gain bandwidth and volume dependent.
  9. Start work with those applications and data that is available to them whilst others come down in the background.

Should We Shift Left, or Right?

In a previous blog post, I considered the prime candidates for each of these deployment methodologies. To briefly reprise that post, Dell describes five key personas:

  1. Desk Centric – greater than 50% of time spent at a fixed desk location.
  2. Corridor Warrior – collaborative worker that divides their time between desk and meeting room locations but in one office or campus.
  3. On-the-Go Pro – highly mobile individual travelling between locations, cities and often countries. Often works on public WIFI or mobile communications.
  4. Remote Worker – greater than 50% of time spent at home.
  5. Specialist Worker – in many cases this category is driven by the hardware they use. It could be a Field Worker who needs ruggedized equipment. An Engineer who needs hardware that enables them to be creative perhaps using CAD/CAM software or A Creative user with peripherals such as the Dell Canvas.

It is my belief that from a management perspective and therefore a deployment methodology, Shift Right, enabled by modern management, best suits the On-the-Go Pro population and Specialist users with a similar level of mobility requirement. Where Remote Workers use primarily Software as a Service (SaaS) apps, they may also be candidates.

Those users who are classified as Desk Centric, Corridor Warrior and the proportion of Remote Workers who use customer data centre hosted applications are probably best handled using the Shift Left methodology. This view is based on the fit of the post-deployment management technologies to the ways these users work.

Having said that, can it be as simple as that?

How about an analogy?

Shift Left includes an engineer to address deskside deployment it is like a waiter bringing your food to the table and serving it to you.

Shift Right, then, is a self-service buffet.

Dependent on the type of individual that fits in to your On-the-Go Pro category, asking them to do self-service may or may not be appropriate. Some will see it as end user empowerment whilst others will see it as the IT department cutting costs and offloading the work on to the users.

Do you need to provide a Tech Bar style walk-up help facility to address issues rather than overloading your Help Desk? How does this impact any outsource contract you might have? How do you quantify the loss of productivity for what could be some well-paid individuals whilst they wait for their applications to download?

These issues are soft or non-technical, but need to be addressed before simply opting for what appears on the face of it to be the “cheaper” option.

Summary

Dell EMC’s Support and Deployment Services can help you identify the persona groups within your organisation using a mix of tooling and business analysis. Once we understand that mix and your readiness to adopt the modern management approach, we can help you define the roadmap to enable you to transform to your desired future state. In this way, we can help you find the right balance between Shift Left and Shift Right within your organisation. We will then stand with you through your deployment, bringing the relevant services to bear as you need them. The diagram below shows how we see these mapping against the personas, with those suiting Shift Left on the left and those suiting Shift Right on the right.

Mapping “Shift Left” and “Shift Right” Against Personas

If you have any questions pertaining to Windows 10 migration or the Shift Left or Right methodologies, please feel free to contact me via the comments below.

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Applying Parenting Skills to Big Data: Play with Friends and Learn from Experience https://infocus.dellemc.com/doug_cackett/applying-parenting-skills-to-big-data-play-with-friends-and-learn-from-experience/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/doug_cackett/applying-parenting-skills-to-big-data-play-with-friends-and-learn-from-experience/#respond Tue, 12 Jun 2018 09:00:03 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35521 This series of blogs was inspired by a discussion I had with a customer senior executive when I found myself exploring the topic of value creation, big data and data science through the lens of parenting skills – offering a different and relatable way of thinking through the challenges many organizations face. In the first […]

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This series of blogs was inspired by a discussion I had with a customer senior executive when I found myself exploring the topic of value creation, big data and data science through the lens of parenting skills – offering a different and relatable way of thinking through the challenges many organizations face.

In the first blog, Applying Parenting Skills to Big Data: Focus on Outcomes and Set Boundaries, I discussed the notion of ‘long term greedy’ and governance. The second one, Applying Parenting Skills to Big Data: Provide the Right Tools and a Safe Place to Play…and Be Quick About It!, covered tools, discovery environments and industrializing the process to realize value from your data as quickly as possible. I’ll finish out the series focusing on roles and responsibilities, working with partners and learning from the analytics journeys and missteps of others.

A Familiar Pattern of Play

Watching kids play has to be one of the greatest treasures in life, and that’s never more so when they are playing with their best friends as they’ve already learned how to play together and what each brings to the party. They might fall into a familiar pattern of play as a result but it’s one that works and yields a happier, more productive experience for all involved.

Try this experiment at home – next time your kids are in full-on game mode with their best friends tell them you and your spouse want to play as well. See what happens to the game then? You’ve crashed their party and the kids are probably not too thrilled with the interruption or your lack of gaming skills!

We find the same to be true for big data solutions.To achieve full digital transformation in the organization, you need to apply data science to every aspect of the business. To do so affordably, you need to minimize the time taken to discover and operationalize insights and increase the cadence of those experiments. What we have found is that in order to achieve that, the people that aren’t directly involved need to stand back from the process so as not to disrupt or delay it.

Knowing Your Place in the Sandbox

In the case of enterprise big data, we’re talking about the IT and Security teams. They have a vital part to play in the enablement processes, in provisioning a safe place to play and the tooling that’s needed, but they have no role in what happens during the discovery process.

To be effective and maximize the speed and cadence for discovery and monetization, you need to architect and implement a platform that allows your IT and Security teams to stand well back from the process.

CEOs measure outcomes, not intermediate steps.The business doesn’t benefit at all until the pattern or whatever it is the data scientist is looking for in the data is actually implemented into a system of engagement. In turn, as a CDO I’m looking at eliminating waste and delays in the discovery – monetize and optimize chain.There is no greater waste than having your most valued asset – the data scientist – sit on their hands while waiting for an suitably sized environment or for the data they need to use, or the libraries they want to try or… or…

Get Out of the Plumbing Business

We have experience working with clients at every level of maturity in their Big Data journey and across all industries. Based on this experience, we have built a solution called the Elastic Data Platform (EDP), and while we offer a full portfolio of consulting services, we increasingly find ourselves talking about EDP with customers because it fills the gaps in what they are looking to achieve and enables them to use their existing Big Data infrastructure and investments. It helps them focus on outcomes rather than plumbing.

And just like your children when they play with friends, we have built the solution with our friends, filling some key gaps around standard Hadoop distributions. For instance, we use a tool from Blue Data to spin up Hadoop and other components almost instantly into Docker containers. You can choose between a variety of cluster sizes and configurations with ingress and egress edge nodes, various tools such as SAS Viya and connect these to back-end data sources through a policy engine and enforcement points that allow you to provide full fine-grained access control and redaction. Importantly, these clusters can be spun up and torn down in seconds.

Learn from Those Who Have Gone Before You

As well as learning from their friends and through play, it’s also important for kids to learn from their elders; people who have been there, seen it and done it all before. Importantly, kids learn both about specifics (look before crossing the road) and more general things that help to shape their views of the world. Both are important as that helps them learn while not getting hampered by things that are inevitably changing around them.

At Dell EMC, we work across a wide range of difficult and challenging environments in every industry. We see technologies on the leading edge of the wave as well as those that have already been well established. We also have a chance to stand back and understand what the fundamentals are – what works, and importantly, what doesn’t.

In many ways, the Elastic Data Platform along with a number of deployment patterns we have for Dell EMC’s underlying technologies underpins that experience. However, we also support our customers in a range of different engagement styles and specialties, whether it’s specifics around particular technologies such as modern AI platforms or current Hadoop tooling or at a much higher strategic level to shape your future direction.

Bringing It All Together

This wraps up my series on parenting skills and how they relate to big data and analytics.  I’ve hit on many of the key points I see organizations consistently challenged by. No doubt there are many other parallels we could draw, so let me know if you have any additional suggestions for the list!

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Why Multi-cloud Can Bridge the Gap Between Public and Private Clouds https://infocus.dellemc.com/josh_klein/multi-cloud-can-bridge-gap-public-private-clouds/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/josh_klein/multi-cloud-can-bridge-gap-public-private-clouds/#respond Tue, 05 Jun 2018 09:00:14 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35501 If you haven’t already started moving there, it’s time to get ready for a multi-cloud world. Many organizations have already figured out that a multi-cloud environment provides the most efficient and cost effective solution for their current and future needs. Simply put, multi-cloud is the combination of private cloud environments and public cloud services from the […]

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If you haven’t already started moving there, it’s time to get ready for a multi-cloud world.

Many organizations have already figured out that a multi-cloud environment provides the most efficient and cost effective solution for their current and future needs. Simply put, multi-cloud is the combination of private cloud environments and public cloud services from the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google.

A recent IDC CloudView Survey shows nearly 80 percent of large organizations with 1,000 or more employees already have a multi-cloud strategy in place. The same study also revealed that 51 percent of those same organizations are currently using both public cloud and private cloud infrastructure, with an additional 29 percent of organizations expecting to do so in the next year.

A multi-cloud approach offers numerous benefits, enabling IT departments to provide faster, more flexible and potentially more affordable capabilities for their end customer, the business owners.  In companies of every size and industry, the rapid development of new applications and their near constant upgrades has become the most important differentiator for business success.

In most cases, a multi-cloud environment provided by corporate IT enables the application development teams greater flexibility and a faster time to market.  As companies invest in public clouds as well as their own private ones, it’s essential to determine which workloads are appropriate for which environment. This can be a complex task in and of itself. No less complex is the effort of managing these multiple environments and their associated workloads once these determinations have been made.

As I alluded to, one of the biggest challenges I see is companies struggling to decide which workflows are best suited for which cloud environment. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to unleash the full potential of a multi-cloud environment before you start moving essential workloads around.

Among the first steps is application discovery. It’s critical to know your overall application portfolio and have a deep understanding of the applications that are interrelated from both a data as well as a hardware standpoint. The configuration management database (CMDB) is a good place to start, although it’s rarely up to date to the point that an IT executive would hang their hat (or career) on them.

The next phase involves turning a more critical eye to each application to understand, whether or not they can effectively exist, or be modified to exist, in a public cloud or should be kept private. The decisions made here should happen through the lens of security, cost analysis and ease of use.Prevailing opinion is that applications like email and test and development environments are well suited to public cloud environments. Full production workloads, meanwhile, are generally still the domain of private clouds. While this line of thinking is beginning to change, as we see more and more companies expanding their footprint in the public cloud, most companies still maintain their ERP and other production environments; the “crown jewels” of their workloads, internally.

From there, it’s a matter of optimizing applications for the right cloud. Need low latency and responsiveness? Private may be the best option. Other uses such as analytics, meanwhile, may be better suited to the public cloud.

One thing is for sure: no matter where your workflows live today, a multi-cloud strategy can deliver the critical flexibility your business will need to remain competitive in today’s world.

In my next post, I’ll share some of the key multi-cloud implementation considerations

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The Forgotten Tribe and The Dell Digital Way https://infocus.dellemc.com/jim_roth/forgotten-tribe-dell-digital-way/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jim_roth/forgotten-tribe-dell-digital-way/#respond Sun, 03 Jun 2018 09:00:52 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35503 As digital transformation hype continues to grow, IT is still an enabling function that exists to deliver business outcomes. As with other support functions like human resources finance and legal, in IT it’s very common to refer to functions outside of IT as “the business”. The business is trying to grow margin dollars. The business […]

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As digital transformation hype continues to grow, IT is still an enabling function that exists to deliver business outcomes. As with other support functions like human resources finance and legal, in IT it’s very common to refer to functions outside of IT as “the business”. The business is trying to grow margin dollars. The business is trying to increase productivity. The business is trying to reduce customer effort.   But who is this nameless faceless business that IT supports? The face of the business is the forgotten tribethe tribe of users – the people that actually use your software tools, sometimes for many hours a day.

Our Dell Digital team is working hard to put a face on the business to enable exceptional outcomes even faster and with less re-work. We call it the Dell Digital Way – a major cultural shift for us built on people, process and technology.  Heavily inspired by our brothers and sisters at Pivotal we’re combining elements of design thinking, Agile, SAFe, extreme programming and IoT. That’s a lot of jargon so what exactly are we doing? We’re taking the Pivotal methodology adding in a few dashes of our own and applying across everything that we do.

First we start with user empathy which is the hallmark of design thinking and we are doing it with professionally trained designers – actually spending time to understand not only what our users do but how they do it and what motivates them. Qualitative empathy is critical but I can’t do it justice compared to the classic TedX talk by Doug Dietz. What we learned is that users care most about an effortless experience and far less about new bells and whistles. In their hierarchy of needs users want applications that are first up, then fast and ultimately easy.

Our human-centered approach brings qualitative and quantitative approaches together. We’ve adopted an iterative approach focused on user empathy with elements of Agile, extreme programming and SAFe to release small increments in days or weeks. We always write test cases before developing of any user story.  Finally we instrument our applications (not just the website) in the spirit of IoT.  The software application itself is the thing and instrumentation gives us performance and adoption feedback so we can continue to fine-tune our interface configuration as well as optimizing performance of backend calls.  Using this quantitative empathy we can begin the cycle or qualitative empathy over again at the start of the next cycle.

A great example of where we’ve applied this approach is in our current Salesforce Service Cloud implementation. We started by setting up a lab in our contact center and selected a team of users that represented a small sample of the total user population. Our team of product managers, designers and engineers spent hours and days observing and building rapport with the users. In parallel they started configuring (never customizing) the application and doing demos with the users. Prior to configuring each user story they wrote test cases to ensure story success.

There’s a common misconception that you don’t need UX with SaaS because there’s already a UI.  When you decide to go with a SaaS application you are outsourcing UI but the UX is still in your hands.  SaaS platforms generally give you enough degrees of freedom to overwhelm users if you don’t make a conscious commitment to design and control complexity throughout the life of the application. If you empathize with your users and apply design and analytics properly, you’ll see this forgotten tribe celebrate their tools instead of wrestling with them, improving the employee experience and ultimately benefiting customers. This is the art of delivering a world class end-user experience and the outcome we expect with the Dell Digital Way.

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Cloud Computing: How to Get Better, Faster and Cheaper https://infocus.dellemc.com/gabriel_lopez/cloud-computing-how-to-get-better-faster-and-cheaper/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/gabriel_lopez/cloud-computing-how-to-get-better-faster-and-cheaper/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35466 As trained technology professionals, we’ve become used to the idea that technology changes faster every year and the need to ‘minimize negative business disruptions’ is even more critical today, when more and more business transactions are relying on effective and efficient IT Services. Many years ago, I learned how difficult it was to be ready […]

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As trained technology professionals, we’ve become used to the idea that technology changes faster every year and the need to ‘minimize negative business disruptions’ is even more critical today, when more and more business transactions are relying on effective and efficient IT Services. Many years ago, I learned how difficult it was to be ready and able to support hardware, software and, most importantly, customers in the face of this rapid change.

To put this into context, in just a few decades, we’ve gone from mainframe to distributed systems to cloud computing. Now according to Gartner, the cloud market grew close to 20 percent in 2017. With digital transformation at the top of every executive’s mind, it’s likely that this trend will only accelerate. So much so that by 2020, Gartner estimates that the overall market will reach $411 billion, and IaaS $72 billion, 87 percent and 185 percent increases respectively from 2016.

When we see this rapid growth and the current compute power, storage quantity and networking capacity required to handle today’s daily business transactions, the numbers are really quite astonishing. However, most demand faster response times, more compute power, more storage, increased bandwidth and throughput, and much faster provisioning just to meet the most basic daily business needs.

Better, Faster and Cheaper

Better, faster, cheaper is and has always been the name of the game; no surprises there. Some organizations, though, can’t quite seem to focus on all three of these attributes at the same time. In my experience they tend to focus on just two, faster and cheaper, and disregard the better.

But, can they really afford to just deliver two out of three?

I am surprised that many organisations pay little to no attention to their IT operations’ maturity level. Organizations large and small, new and not so new, are sometimes so entrenched in delivering the faster and cheaper that they forget that the better can significantly contribute to achieving the performance and cost efficiencies that we all seem to be chasing after and dreaming about.

Cloud computing is certainly not a new concept. The availability of today’s amazing compute power, paired with fantastic virtualization solutions, represent key contributing factors to achieving faster and cheaper IT service. This is very evident with an efficient orchestration layer that automates provisioning by providing the end customer with a powerful and complete IT catalogue, at their fingertips, to meet their needs faster and cheaper than ever before.

But Is It Really Fast and Cheap?

What happens when companies decide to invest in new cloud computing technologies to make their IT run faster and cheaper, but lack the backbone and processes to deliver better IT services?

Even worse, what happens when they invest in cloud computing to migrate business critical applications, such as SAP, to a cloud environment without having the ‘better’ factor in place and actually end up doing damage to their business?

In these cases, the new solution fails to deliver any of the three desired attributes: it is not faster due to recurring service disruptions, is not cheaper due to the lack of service availability and is certainly not better because it ends up hurting the business.

The better factor is, in my opinion, critical for success in deploying new technologies such as cloud computing.

This better factor I’m referring to is also known as maturity. The maturity level of your IT operations is a key factor in provisioning a fast and reliable IT service at the right cost, enabling your organisation to meet, and sometimes exceed, business demands.

Finding the Better

Whether you run your business on a private, public or hybrid cloud, increasing the maturity level of your IT organisation and engaging IT service providers with a proven record of effective operational maturity is critical to achieving faster, cheaper and better IT services.

Reaching appropriate ‘Operational Maturity Levels’ – by yourself and in conjunction with your IT partners – will save you money in the short and long term. You will enjoy the benefits of a proactive support organization that will:

  • Enable your IT services to minimize and even eliminate negative impacts to the business, sometimes even before disruptions actually occur.
  • Empower the business to self-serve their own needs consistently with technology and enjoy higher levels of availability with predictable service levels.
  • Increase retention of key resources. A higher level of operational maturity immediately translates into less “firefighting”, reduced stress and minimized unpredictable working hours.

What Can You Afford?

So, can you really afford not to focus on the better factor and do you still believe you’ll be able to deliver IT services faster and cheaper without it? Can you afford to not reach an appropriate maturity level in your IT Operations? Can you afford to hire vendors who are lacking operational maturity?

If you think you can, my advice to you would be to take a closer look at your bottom line, particularly around hidden costs such as project delays, loss of business, and loss of potential business. It should become apparent quickly that fast and cheap will not deliver over the long term without the presence of better.

Summary

It makes the most sense to partner with vendors who can prove to you how mature their operations are and who will willingly discuss their operational best practices. Include certain maturity level requirements (for whatever level is appropriate for your organisation) in your future RFPs before hiring new vendors and make operational maturity a prerequisite. This will not only improve your overall services but will also contribute to increasing the maturity level of your own operations at a much faster pace.

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Applying Parenting Skills to Big Data: Provide the Right Tools and a Safe Place to Play…and Be Quick About It! https://infocus.dellemc.com/doug_cackett/applying-parenting-skills-to-big-data-provide-the-right-tools-and-a-safe-place-to-playand-be-quick-about-it/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/doug_cackett/applying-parenting-skills-to-big-data-provide-the-right-tools-and-a-safe-place-to-playand-be-quick-about-it/#respond Tue, 29 May 2018 09:00:03 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35436 This series of blogs was inspired by a discussion I had with a customer senior executive when I found myself exploring the topic of value creation, big data and data science through the lens of parenting skills – offering a different and relatable way of thinking through the challenges many organizations face. In the first […]

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This series of blogs was inspired by a discussion I had with a customer senior executive when I found myself exploring the topic of value creation, big data and data science through the lens of parenting skills – offering a different and relatable way of thinking through the challenges many organizations face. In the first blog, Applying Parenting Skills to Big Data: Focus on Outcomes and Set Boundaries, I discussed the notion of ‘long term greedy’ and governance. In this blog, we will discuss tools, having a safe place to play and the importance of end-to-end measurement.

Providing the Right Tools

One of the things I’ve learned as a parent is that tools need to be appropriate. When my sons were growing up, they had tools that looked similar to mine yet were age and task appropriate – think plastic toolkit with a plastic hammer, screwdriver and workbench.

The same is true of our data environments. ETL tooling makes perfect sense for enterprise ETL. Standardized BI tooling also. But neither are particularly useful for data science which is a highly iterative and personal journey. Tools also impact the quality and speed at which you can produce things. That perhaps explains why professionals use professional tools and amateur DIY enthusiasts like me use cheaper ones. It also explains why the quality of the results is different!

The Data Scientist Toolkit

If the continued success of your business is a function of your Data Scientists’ ability to find and apply patterns in your data, then you had better make them as productive as you possibly can. Part of that is in giving them the tools that they need, and these are unlikely to be the same as the tools you currently use across your business.

For a modern Data Scientist, the toolkit might include Python and R in a notebook like Jupyter. However, if you were embarking on a facial recognition problem, it’s pretty clear that using pre-built tooling such as Tensorflow and DLIB would make a lot more sense that trying to build this capability yourself using primitives as they are more task-specific and productive.

Finding a Safe Place to Play

Where you play is also important. If my sons were going to make a mess, I strangely always preferred them to go to a friend’s house rather than play at ours. In data science, there are some real advantages to having a “clean” environment for each new problem that needs to be tackled. We’ll talk more about this later. But sometimes there may not be enough room for a particular problem so doing the work in Azure or GCP also makes sense, bringing the results back once playtime is over!

Data science is also about experimentation, in the same way that your kids learn as they play. Children not only learn things like balance and fine motor coordination, but also social skills such as collaboration and shared goals. As long as the kids are safe, you can relax and they are free to try new things. For some that might be as simple as jumping on a trampoline, for others an awesome double backflip.

Data Scientists will break things when they play. They will do things and try things that make absolutely no sense and sometimes things are just going to go “bang”. That’s fine. Or at least it’s fine as long as they have an isolated place to play and do their stuff.

Or, put another way: if you don’t give Data Scientists a safe place to play, the only other thing you can do is to either stop them experimenting – the opposite of what you really want – or put them all in the same isolated swamp and let them fight it out.

The equivalent here is having lots of kids share the same trampoline at the same time. If that happens, your enterprise might be safe, but collisions are bound to happen and that’s going to have a measurable impact on productivity. Since our goal is all about trying to make our Data Scientist more productive, that seems like the wrong way to go.

It’s Not Just About the Data Scientists

Up until now we’ve been focusing on data science, however there are other players in the organization that are equally important in our ecosystem.

Once the Data Scientist has done his or her job and discovered something in the data that your organization can create value from, the next task is to monetize that insight by operationalizing it in some form. So, along with the Data Scientists, you’ll have agile development teams that need to evolve the data science into something that is enterprise-grade. We will talk about this further in a future blog but the point to take away is that others will also need environments that offer a safe and isolated place to play and the quicker you can provide them, the better.

Speed Counts

When your kids run a race at school, you press the stopwatch at the beginning and stop it at the end. If it’s a relay involving multiple people, the time that’s recorded is the team time – not just one leg of the race.

Following that thought for a moment, the key time for us in business is from the identification of the business problem through the point at which we have found a pattern in the data to the implementation of that pattern in a business process – in other words, from the idea to operationalizing that insight. It’s not just the discovery, and not just operationalizing it. We measure the time from beginning to end and that includes the time taken to pass the baton between people in the team.

The Clock Is Ticking

So, now for a much told myth – Data Scientists spend 80% of their time preparing data and 20% actually doing data science. Hands up if you believe that? Frankly speaking I don’t, well, at least it’s not quite the whole truth!

In my experience, Data Scientists spend much more of their time waiting for an environment and/or data. By simply eliminating that completely non-productive time, you could push through so many more data science projects. I don’t mean to trivialize other aspects of the process as they are all important – however this issue stands out to me as by far the most critical.

If I was a Chief Data Monetization Officer, I’d be looking at how we need to work on speed in the business and measure that in metrics such as time to discover, time to operationalize and time to manage.

Then I’d look at the key blockers that cause delays in the process and architect those out if possible.Time to provision is what has to happen before the Data Scientist or agile development teams can do ANYTHING and I’ve found that often takes MONTHS in most organizations.

So What Does Good Look Like?

Photo of Usain Bolt courtesy of xm.com.

A friend of mine once came up with what I thought was a fantastic idea. She thought it was impossible to know just how exceptional sprinters like Usain Bolt were because everyone else in the race were also good. She suggested that they should randomly pick someone from the audience to run in lane 9. That way you’d have a reasonable comparison to mark “average” against.

If you want to know what good looks like in the world of big data and data science, it’s the ability to fully provision new analytics environments in minutes.

Months or more than a year is a more typical starting point for many and that’s a real problem. And remember, we’re measuring the time taken to give the Data Scientist everything they need, not just some of it – that includes the tools, in an infrastructure that is isolated from their peers and with the libraries and data they need.

Navigating Your Big Data Journey

At Dell EMC, we offer a comprehensive portfolio of Big Data & IoT Consulting services from strategy through to implementation and ongoing optimization to help our customers accelerate the time to value of their analytics initiatives and maximize their investments. We also help organizations bridge the people, process, and technology needed to realize transformational business outcomes. For example, one of our solutions, the Elastic Data Platform, enables Data Scientists to have tool flexibility and isolated environments to work in that can be provisioned in minutes.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the value of trusted partners and how to benefit from the experience of others.

Stay tuned and happy parenting!

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Dell Digital’s Annual Performance Report: Transforming People, Processes and Technology https://infocus.dellemc.com/bask_iyer/dell-digitals-annual-performance-report-transforming-people-processes-technology/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/bask_iyer/dell-digitals-annual-performance-report-transforming-people-processes-technology/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 09:00:40 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35396 There has never been a better time to be in IT. Faced with new opportunities, and at times, disruptive competitive pressures, IT organizations are awakening their innovative spirit and transforming their people, processes and technologies to enable a bright, new digital world. We are living and breathing this at Dell. Over the last year, we […]

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There has never been a better time to be in IT.

Faced with new opportunities, and at times, disruptive competitive pressures, IT organizations are awakening their innovative spirit and transforming their people, processes and technologies to enable a bright, new digital world.

We are living and breathing this at Dell.

Over the last year, we integrated the newly merged company, advanced our cloud strategy, delivered on hundreds of business initiatives, and started our own digital transformation. And we combined Dell’s IT and Commerce Services teams to deliver the innovative and transformational digital systems, tools and experiences our customers and team members demand today and in the future.

We have much more to do, but I’m beyond proud of the team and the tremendous strides they have made to date.

In the spirit of sharing our milestones, best practices and lessons learned, we captured our progress in our newly published Dell Digital 2017-2018 Annual Performance Report. By all means, give it a read and share it with your teams. Continue reading, we’ll be providing more Dell IT Proven insight on our progress in the future.

Until then, enjoy reading our report!

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Digitization in the Interests of Human Potential https://infocus.dellemc.com/chris_gaudlip/digitization-in-the-interests-of-human-potential/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/chris_gaudlip/digitization-in-the-interests-of-human-potential/#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 09:00:08 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35361 I was fortunate to spend a few days meeting with colleagues, analysts and above all, customers at Dell Technologies World. After the countless conversations and over 20,000 steps logged each day, something became clearer to me than ever before: we have an imaginary human business barrier. Evolution of ‘the Machine’ I’ve been in the Services business […]

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I was fortunate to spend a few days meeting with colleagues, analysts and above all, customers at Dell Technologies World. After the countless conversations and over 20,000 steps logged each day, something became clearer to me than ever before: we have an imaginary human business barrier.

Evolution of ‘the Machine’

I’ve been in the Services business for more than 25 years, during which time Services were always referenced within the context of hardware installation, machine configurations and performance analysis. Being a member of our Support, Deploy and Services team, an evolution – or I should say a revolution – was happening around me. I always knew it was there, and some customers witnessed it as well, but this is the first time the experience of the machine is more defined by the fact that nobody knows it is there, but they sure notice when it is not.

There is this imaginary barrier to business acceleration and success that I believe is not a barrier but an Unknown we can’t wait to discover.

Moore’s Law and the Sound Barrier

We have taken for granted for years that hardware and software are the triggers for the ‘can’t wait another day to upgrade’ events. Being the perpetual geek, I marveled at disk drives storing more and more data, or more and more RAM within servers. Measuring the next widget was based upon metrics of half the floor space, twice the speed and using 33% less energy as the previous generation. The digitization of our lives is upon us and we need to accelerate Moore’s law faster than ever before.

It’s a fact, right?

I totally disagree.

Services are the accelerant to the physics ‘laws’. We have laws of bandwidth, clock speeds and of course a special project of mine in breaking the speed of light barrier. (More on that effort in a later Blog). Before you chuckle; recall that the sound barrier was actually no barrier at all.

In the Interests of Human Potential

So what is my point?

Let’s break this down.

A long time ago we had ink and quills to document our thinking. Life was good. Then we automated that process and invented the typewriter. Life was better and more documents were created. Then we had the word processor/computer and life was better still. However, these tools were simply the enabler of the creative minds that have existed for thousands of years. Hardware and software are simply our instruments to unlock human potential. I like to think our Dell Services exist to unlock our customer’s human potential as well.

Summary

Don’t buy the latest computer, storage device or widget unless you consider what you can do with it and how it will improve your customer delivery model, impact your human and business efficiency plans, or simply allow you to break that human business barrier that is really no barrier at all.

It simply is a virtual one until we break through it.

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It’s all about the Code: Why Software is Key to a Successful IT Transformation https://infocus.dellemc.com/paul-conway/its-all-about-the-code-why-software-is-key-to-a-successful-it-transformation/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/paul-conway/its-all-about-the-code-why-software-is-key-to-a-successful-it-transformation/#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 09:00:43 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35379 As I travel throughout the US to meet large enterprise customers, I often find myself explaining what technology terms like IT Transformation actually mean. For many, IT transformation means using entirely new business models and service offerings, like IaaS, PaaS, and CaaS, to be more agile, flexible, innovative, user-oriented, and customer-focused. This often necessitates building […]

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As I travel throughout the US to meet large enterprise customers, I often find myself explaining what technology terms like IT Transformation actually mean.

For many, IT transformation means using entirely new business models and service offerings, like IaaS, PaaS, and CaaS, to be more agile, flexible, innovative, user-oriented, and customer-focused.

This often necessitates building and/or configuring new cloud platforms that link on-premises resources with public cloud.

Despite all this new technology, hardware is not the only thing enabling this opportunity.

The reality?

It’s all about the code.

Software-driven versus Hardware-driven

Digital disruption is driving large enterprises to rapidly transform how they develop software, where they develop it, and even who is developing software.

This means IT must rethink the definition of infrastructure to one that is software-driven rather than hardware-driven.

And code is the new language of IT. It defines, manages and governs the features, functions, infrastructure, configurations, integrations, quality, and policies of IT.

Code replaces routine, mundane, repetitive tasks to free up resources to focus on value add activities like improving automation and building new services.

Humans can’t physically keep pace with the rate of change in technology. Automation is required to satisfy this need. Think Amazon – when you click through and configure an EC2 instance, do you think there is a person on the other end building it for you?

Heck no!

If the core of any successful digital transformation is the ability of IT to develop software of the highest quality as fast as possible to deliver a specific business outcome, the engine making this happen is DevOps.

From initial idea to impactful outcome, DevOps enables the development and delivery pipeline through the process of optimizing the flow of work to create a code-based platform and ecosystem focused on velocity through quality.

There are a few important considerations before making the transition from a hardware-based to a software-based infrastructure.

Behaviors that Enable IT Transformation

Making the cultural change may be among the top priorities. Building an application-centric model is a lesson in change management.

Instead of the traditional human change model built on distributing and then inspecting, behaviors must shift to incremental and iterative approvals that prove new ideas and solutions and then radiate successful patterns. This model is how IT creates and informs the culture rather than dictating rules, processes, and policies.

Measuring success is critical in order to know that you’re doing it right. Criteria like the time it takes to go from code development to released applications, frequency of code deployment, and change fail percentage are among the most important considerations.

Or very simply: are you getting quality software into production faster?

Summary

Ultimately, a platform and ecosystem built around code is the best way to help organizations create more value, more quickly, at a lower total cost in the new era of digital transformation.

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Dell’s Unique Customer Service Portal: You Can See Everything from Here https://infocus.dellemc.com/jim_roth/dells-unique-customer-service-portal-myservice360/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jim_roth/dells-unique-customer-service-portal-myservice360/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 09:00:40 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35369 It is a hallmark of the digital age—customers want real-time access to personalized business information along with the ability to control and use the information however they see fit. That is the fundamental premise—and the key to success—behind Dell EMC’s groundbreaking online customer support portal called MyService360. Launched in May 2016, MyService360 is a place […]

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It is a hallmark of the digital age—customers want real-time access to personalized business information along with the ability to control and use the information however they see fit.

That is the fundamental premise—and the key to success—behind Dell EMC’s groundbreaking online customer support portal called MyService360. Launched in May 2016, MyService360 is a place where customers can go to look at their Dell EMC installed base and customer service environment in a customizable view to suit their priorities.

The portal features a personalized dashboard that provides customers and partners with a 360-degree view of their installed environment, including incident management, onsite service tracking, and health and risk assessments.

MyService360 not only created a stir in the industry when we introduced it at Dell EMC World nearly two years ago, but it has been a growing hit with customers and partners whose user ranks have tripled since we launched.

In response, we continue to add new features to enhance the experience and are using the latest big data technologies to deliver the capabilities faster and faster.

Overall, MyService360 is a great example of the business and IT working together to drive customer benefit and the journey provides some best-practice insights for any application modernization efforts.

How We Started

MyService360 stems from our Dell IT team and the Dell EMC services business working together to bring about an idea —to evolve from being reactive and waiting for customer issues to happen — to creating a more proactive, predictive model.

Customers could be more proactive, if we shared the massive amount of information we collect on their installed base, including large amounts of IoT data our installed devices send along with various sets of internal customer data about their product and service history.

Since we had all this data in the Dell data lake, we thought why not just put an application on top of it and provide customers with a snapshot so they could see an overview of their service life. They could then slice and dice the data however they wanted for their needs.

MyService360 runs on Dell-on-Dell technology, including Isilon, ScaleIO and XtremIO as foundation for the data lake and Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) for rapid delivery of portal capabilities.

Using our agile PCF framework to spin up micro-services in cloud native format, we are able to release new capabilities to customers every two weeks compared to the traditional release cycle of every three to four months. Upgrade launches now take minutes rather than two or three days.

Our latest upgrades include the ability for customers to look at a single asset view of their installed base. Previously they could only see a full view of their installed base. This lets users drill into a specific asset to hone in on a problem or a refined set of details. A second recent upgrade expands the range of installed products customers can see to include VCE, EMC, Cisco, VMware and Dell as components of broader solutions.

MyService360 is allowing customers to be more proactive with expanding capabilities, from alerts that let them know of impending problems before equipment fails to recommended code upgrades that enable them optimize their products and experience fewer issues down the road.

Dell, in turn, gets greater visibility into our customers so we can head off issues, save time and keep our customers happier.

A 360 View of Lessons Learned

As we continue to refine our MyService360 portal, there are a few best practices I can pass along:

  • Don’t be afraid to show customers their data, even if it is not perfect. We discovered that customers were actually the best ones to fix their data and customers like being involved.
  • Spend more time on interface design and the visual display of information. We spent a lot of time honing our data presentation to maximize user experience and it paid big dividends.
  • Find the right experts internally who can make the data actionable. We had some fantastic data scientists who really brought the data to life for our customers.
  • Speed is crucial and the Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform enabled rapid development, testing and refinement of the user interfaces and underlying capabilities.

Summary

MyService360 has been transformative for our customers and it keeps getting better and better every two weeks thanks to the modern technology we are using. Our customers can be more and more proactive which helps them focus on their business outcomes instead of IT infrastructure.

Isn’t that what digital transformation is all about?

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