Thursday, July 28, 2016

Intel® Rack Scale Design Is Now Ready for Open Source Development

Intel Rack Scale Design Is Now Ready for Open Source Development

Author: Charles Wuischpard

Today marks an important milestone for Intel® Rack Scale Design, the first industry-standard framework for disaggregating and dynamically managing compute, storage, and network resources for more efficient utilization of data center assets. We mark the efforts of our ecosystem partners as Intel® Rack Scale Architecture transitions to Intel Rack Scale Design and goes live as open source code.

As a VP in Intel’s Data Center Group and GM of the newly formed Intel Scalable Datacenter Solutions Group, I’m particularly excited about this milestone. I’m responsible for creating full solutions necessary to meet the most critical infrastructure challenges across the data center and working with the industry to bring additional ecosystem-led innovations to those solutions. I previously led Intel’s High Performance Computing Platform Group, where we established Intel® Scalable System Framework—a flexible, systems-level approach to delivering complete solutions.

Today, my focus is on the great progress we have made over the past year with Intel Rack Scale Design for hyper-efficient data centers. The release of the open source code for Intel Rack Scale Design heralds a significant step toward the revolution of traditional rack servers for organizations that view the data center as a strategic asset. The updated name for the framework reflects the longer-term vision of agile infrastructure that is at the heart of Intel Rack Scale Design.

A year ago at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF 2015), Intel hosted an Intel Rack Scale Architecture Developers Conference. Several OxMs—including Dell, Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), Ericsson, and Inspur—took to the podium to speak to an enthusiastic crowd about the opportunities Rack Scale would open to them and their customers.

Intel Rack Scale Design is the first framework to be based upon and use the Redfish™ industry standard from DMTFOpens in a new window for modern and secure management of scalable platform hardware in the modern data center. The framework allows for dynamic management of compute, memory, PCIe, and storage resources and the pooling of those resources for more efficient use of data center assets. The framework simplifies advanced technology to accelerate the adoption of open, interoperable solutions for tomorrow’s data centers today.

This is the first step in preparing the broader ecosystem for pooled resources and a path to a software-defined infrastructure.  Through its ability to provide a new systems-level architecture that uncouples a system’s resources, Intel Rack Scale Design helps hyperscale operators address the challenges of growing workload complexities and the sheer scale of usage demands.

The industry is taking note of that point. Craig LeGrande, managing director of Mainstay Salire LLC and author of “An Economic Study of the Hyperscale Data Center,” says that “Intel’s RSD framework will re-write the book on (hyperscale) data center operations. The ability to simplify and scale data center infrastructure through disaggregation and dynamic management of compute, storage, and network resources will provide strategic advantages to businesses that require high performance, nimble IT systems while reducing overall data center TCO.”

LeGrande notes that Mainstay’s research found that data centers powered by Intel Rack Scale Design infrastructure “can reach up to four times the level of CPU utilization and ten times the level of IT admin productivity compared to traditional data center environments—two of the largest drivers of data center TCO.”

In a notable step forward, Intel is now making the Intel Rack Scale Design components available as open source software that developers can productize and incorporate into orchestration solutions. With this open source release, Intel provides a clear path to address data center management fragmentation, drive down total cost of ownership via resource pooling, and improve OpEx via enriched telemetry.

Intel Rack Scale Design is coming to fruition because of the efforts of an ecosystem of partners who worked together in the spirit of open source collaboration. The specifications as well as all of the APIs associated with Rack Scale are open and freely available. The Intel Rack Scale Design APIs are based on the Redfish standard developed by DMTF. Intel Rack Scale Design is under the umbrella of the Intel® Cloud for AllOpens in a new window initiative which is focused on unleashing tens of thousands of new clouds.

You can now take advantage of the core of the Intel Rack Scale Design components. Currently available components include the framework’s Pod Manager, Pooled System Manageability Engine, Rack Management Module, and Validation Test Suite—a tool to aid in verifying that the implementation is Rack Scale aligned.

Today, the release of the code to the open source community is the first step forward in the widespread effort to enable the highly efficient use of resources. It sets up the hardware reference and open source APIs to simplify management, and it also sets up the ecosystem for pooled high-speed storage and future pooled technologies.

We expect solutions based on Intel Rack Scale Design to be available from multiple hardware and software vendors by the end of this year. To date numerous nodes have been deployed at multiple telco and cloud service providers via our hardware and software partners. And, yes, as with any truly revolutionary idea, we recognize that the shift to a new hyperscale design framework will take time. We also know that now is the time to start deploying the next generation of hyper-efficient data centers.

You will have a chance to see for yourself at this year’s IDF16 conferenceOpens in a new window in San Francisco, which will showcase Intel Rack Scale Design in demos by Intel and our partners, as well as demos in multiple tech sessions.

In addition, you can download the code now via GitHub ( in a new window) to begin exploring how you will innovate with Intel Rack Scale Design. Several designs across multiple markets and geographies from major OEMs and TEMs will be available in the marketplace by the end of the year.

For a closer look at this new framework for the data center, visit in a new window.

I will close with a list of our partners for solutions based on Intel Rack Scale Design.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What the Hell Does IT Do Anyway?

What the Hell Does IT Do Anyway?
By: Kristan Gainey, Chief of Staff for the CIO of Informatica

How many times have you heard that in a meeting or even said it yourself? In most cases it’s a fair question because a lot of what IT does goes unnoticed. I have found that while IT enables the business and contributes to its success, the outcomes often go unnoticed simply because IT and the business speak different languages.
Let’s take the word “bimodal” for example. Every time I hear it I think of a big, black bear on a bicycle. Usually, I’m in a IT strategy meeting, so it’s safe to assume that’s not what the speaker means.
According to Gartner, bimodal IT is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery – one focused on stability and the other on agility. It’s a powerful word and accurately describes exactly what IT does every day. However, it means nothing to the business. It’s just not part of their language.
However, a language both IT and business speak is “data,” and – guess what – IT usually owns the data for the company! Data intelligence, metrics and making sense of data are at the very core of today’s digital transformations, and IT is in a unique position to use data to transcend language and demonstrate its value to its internal customers.
But first, IT needs to get smarter about what the business actually does and how IT contributes to its success. Here are a few steps IT can take to build a true partnership with the business:
·        Everybody in IT – not just the CIO – needs to gain a greater understanding of how the business defines success. Without understanding the business’ goals and aspirations, how can IT possibly measure its contribution?  
·        For every project, regardless of size, IT must ask: What business problem does this solve? The company makes tough resource decisions all the time, and if IT can’t tie a project back to a business problem or corporate goal, it will be difficult to prove its value.
·        After establishing the business problem but before the project ever starts, define the success metrics and base them on business outcomes. When IT has evidence of how it contributed to the balance sheet, the angel of budget cuts moves on to the next group.
·        Establish a program to consistently quantify, measure and communicate the value for everything IT does. While metrics for specific projects are vital, they don’t show the full impact of IT. A data intelligence program can look across IT and aggregate the metrics into a meaningful story with dashboards and corresponding strategic narratives.
·        Finally, as my former CEO used to say, don’t confuse hard work with results. I have seen (and admire) the heroic efforts of IT teams who work 24 hours a day and weekends to ensure the business or the customer isn’t impacted when strategic projects are being implemented. However, the results are what matter and communicating those results with corresponding data matters even more.  

IT is a magical place. Great things happen in the engine room of the company. Having been in the technology industry for over 20 years on both the service and business sides, I have seen the most significant success in companies when IT measures their efforts, ties them back to business outcomes, and consistently communicates their results using the language of data. Not only does IT get the respect it deserves, the business is able to unleash the magical power of IT.  

Kristan Gainey is Chief of Staff for the CIO of Informatica and leads the company's IT Program Management Office (PMO) team. She is passionate about learning, solving tricky problems and creating stories that educate, inspire and persuade.