Dell: Driving open source innovation in a brave new world

Open source provides a number of unique business and IT benefits in terms of financial savings, flexibility, and better control of IT roadmaps. A familiar example would be the Linux operating system, which celebrated its 20th birthday last year.

We’re now seeing a resurgence of interest in open source, as technologies like cloud and big data emerge to solve new business challenges, and Dell has taken a leadership stance as open source expands into these new technologies. We have been vocal leaders on important open source cloud initiatives such as OpenStack and Hadoop, and enterprises worldwide are beginning to understand the power that open source can offer.

Cloud Computing and Dell

The OpenStack open source cloud platform has provided enterprise IT organizations an attractive option to build clouds, backed by a strong community and sound code base. Announced in July of 2010, OpenStack has grown in every aspect including market interest, user base, developers, and corporate partners.

Enter Dell. We threw our support behind the OpenStack movement the day it was announced, and were the only hardware services provider to support the community back then. From the beginning, Dell has been an active champion in OpenStack, driving deployment technologies, sponsoring design summits, building user groups, hosting meetups, and much more. In fact, we were the first vendor to bring a full OpenStack solution to market – the Dell OpenStack-Powered Cloud Solution. As OpenStack continues to grow, Dell remains a key driver of critical innovation into this open source cloud space.

Big Data and Dell

Big Data is also a key technology trend in the market today. We’re seeing overwhelming amounts of data generated, with much of it unstructured. Many of our customers view big data technologies, such as Hadoop, as a viable means to manage and analyze this volume of data and make important business decisions. In fact, research analysts, such as Forrester, regard Hadoop as the core of the next generation enterprise data warehouse as it moves to the cloud.[1]

Again, enter Dell. We delivered the Dell Apache Hadoop Solution in partnership with Cloudera, who was recently recognized by Forrester Research as providing one of the best-of-breed enterprise-grade distributions of Hadoop. Our complete Hadoop solution delivers a full reference architecture, Cloudera’s open source Hadoop distribution, Dell’s Crowbar deployment and provisioning software, and services. Customers get the full advantages of Hadoop, plus the innovation that Dell provides in this open source technology.

Dell Crowbar: Homegrown Dell Innovation

The Dell Crowbar software framework was developed to solve a critical issue for customers deploying emerging technologies – the time and hardship around implementing complex emerging technologies. Both OpenStack and Hadoop took multiple days to deploy manually, creating huge problems for IT teams. Additionally, customers wanted to deploy these new technologies in non-traditional ways. In response, our team developed the Crowbar software framework – software that extends Opscode’s Chef configuration management tool to automate the deployment and provisioning from days to hours.

We also made a strategic decision to develop the Crowbar software as an open source project. It can be downloaded and used by anyone today under the Apache 2.0 license, and has a thriving community behind it. It is validation of this new open source trend as we see users, customers, and partners take the Crowbar modular design and build their own capabilities around it.

Open source and beyond

Open source is not a novelty for academics and theoretical instances – it can be a measurable strategic differentiator for our customers. Many of them are seeing the benefits of open source as a means to drive efficiency, lower cost, and scalability into their workloads. As markets continue to evolve and new business problems arise, the importance of open source technologies will continue to evolve and become a part of many IT strategies across enterprises everywhere.

And Dell has been, and will continue to be, a leader in driving open source innovation.

Until next time,

Joseph George

More information:

[1] Source: “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Hadoop Solutions, Q1 2012”

About the Author: Joseph B. George