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OI.pngOperational Intelligence

There is little debate these days over whether business decisions should be informed with insights driven by data analytics.  Try to find one article at , or the Harvard Business Review encouraging business leaders to eschew all the promise of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data in favor of making decisions from the gut. However the journey from wanting to be more data driven to realizing success is still a big challenge for many organization.  As many as 3 in 4 big data and analytics projects produce little or no tangible benefits.  Success requires the ability to execute on several levels simultaneously. In the diagram to the right I have highlighted the need to bring together the right people, the right data and the right analysis approach in a way that recognizes the strengths and limitations of each component .  In the table below I discuss how each of the three components can be brought together to produce a successful operation intelligence project outcome that leads to better decision making.


ChallengesWhy Splunk on Dell EMC
PeopleEvery business and organization has unique characteristics that are known most intimately by the people that work there. That is a key competitive advantage.  For most organizations the time your people spend designing, testing and maintaining IT infrastructure is not going to help build value.  The same can be said about developing data analytics capability.  Every person hour spent wiring hardware and software together to enable your analytics capability is not being spent improving data quality, reviewing results or changing how the business operates.Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure running Splunk Enterprise analytics maximizes the time your people spend understanding data, interpreting results and implementing money making changes for the business.  Dell EMC is the #1 market leader in easy to procure, easy to implement and easy to maintain data center infrastructure. Splunk Enterprise is a complete end-to-end analytics solution that handles all aspects of processing data, from input through indexing to search and reporting.  Let your people focus on their strengths by leveraging our strengths.
DataThe three V's of data, 1) velocity, 2) volume and 3) variety, are driving organizations to get more disciplined in their approach to implementing analytic based decision making.  Research shows that data identification, cleaning and merging typically consumes 80% of the time and money spent on data analytic projects.  A lot of that cost and complexity are related to the use of different platforms and analytic techniques for each silo of data.  Organizations that can consolidate data processing for many silos of data onto a single integrated framework drive down the cost of analytics projects and achieve results more expeditiously.  One of the most cost effective ways to deal with the 3 Vs is to standardize the tools and platforms to the greatest extent possible.

Dell EMC hyper-converged platforms deal with the velocity and volume of modern data analytics by allowing fine grained expansion of both compute and storage resources.  No more forklift upgrades or stranded assets when the need arises for increased analytic sophistication with larger volumes of data.

Splunk will turn silos of data into integrated operational insights and provide end-to-end visibility across your IT infrastructure producing faster problem solving and informed, data-driven decisions.  Splunk Enterprise works by first ingesting data from files, the network, or other sources. The data then gets parsed and processed into searchable indexes.  Finally, Splunk allows users to run searches on the indexed data regardless of source.

AnalysisWhen a data analytics project fails to deliver on the initial expectations,  one common reaction is to purchase new analysis tools.  Over time the organization accumulates 6 or more isolated "teams" organized around various tools and business problems.  In my experience this never produces good results and creates an organizational dynamic that is difficult to fix. Another typically ineffective strategy that I see organizations adopt is splitting analytic resources between 1) big data teams with lots of resources and long development times and 2) groups of "power users" with tools like Excel and other desktop scale applications that can generate small wins quickly but lack the ability to scale those solutions to solve big data problems.  Finding tools that scale across broad ranges of data sizes and problem domains is an effective way to minimize these challenges.Splunk Enterprise handles small and large analytic jobs with one framework and one set of tools.  One instance of Splunk Enterprise running on a single server can handle all aspects of processing small to medium data flows, from input through indexing to search. To support larger environments where data originates from many sources and where many users need to execute more sophisticated searches, you can scale your deployment by distributing Splunk Enterprise functions across multiple machines. Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure can also start as small as one machine and scale both computing resources and storage to match the design of your Splunk distributed environment including highly available configurations.  One tool set and one platform for any size of data analytics means the whole team is working together.


Jointly Validated Hyper-Converged Solutions for Splunk Enterprise

Hyper-converged infrastructure integrates IT components in a scalable rack or appliance allowing you to modernize your data center with simplified management, improved performance, and elastic scalability.  Dell EMC hyper-converged systems simplify all aspects of IT by seamlessly integrating compute, network, storage, and virtualization technologies into one system.  Dell EMC and Splunk have jointly validated two hyper-converged system options for Splunk Enterprise solutions - VxRail and VxRack FLEX.

VxRail for Splunk Enterprise

VxRail Appliances allow you to build your software defined data-center with the only fully integrated, pre-configured, and pre-tested VMware hyper-converged infrastructure appliance on the market.

“VxRail is the simplest, most powerful, most integrated HCI appliance for customers standardized on VMware” - Chad Sakac , The Virtual Geek Blog


Download the Solution Guide  Using Splunk Enterprise with VxRail Appliances and Isilon for Analysis of Machine Data


VxRack FLEX for Splunk Enterprise

VxRack FLEX powers your data center with rack-scale engineered systems that achieve the scalability and management requirements for traditional and cloud-native workloads.

“If you want an insanely scalable and flexible HCI Rack-Scale system, with hypervisor of choice or bare metal… one that can start small and scale out - VxRack FLEX is for you.” - Chad Sakac , The Virtual Geek Blog

Download the Solution Guide  Splunk Enterprise on VxRack FLEX for Machine Data Analytics


Both solutions are the result of hundreds of engineering hours.  The Dell EMC engineering team along with Splunk worked together designing specific configurations based on a variety of different deployment scenarios and rigorously tested them to ensure performance. The solutions guides (links above) give you the configurations tested along with implementation guidelines and deployment best practices.  Starting your journey toward more data driven decision making is shorter with less inherent risk when you start with Dell EMC/Splunk jointly validated solutions. 

Thanks for reading,

Phil Hummel @GotDisk


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Dell EMC World was filled with product announcements, a flying Chad Sakac, a Michael Dell keynote, and even more excitement!


While these headline activities were going on, our Subject Matter Experts were busy in the background presenting to attendees on Converged and Hyper-converged Infrastructure, Hybrid Cloud Solutions, Ready Solutions, and the rest of the Dell EMC portfolio. It was a real educational experience for all who were able to make the trip to Las Vegas.


If you weren’t able to attend, we didn’t want you to miss this learning opportunity, so we asked some of our presenters to write about key takeaways and questions from their session.


If you have any questions or want to learn more about a topic, leave a comment and we will get back to you!



VxRail: A Customers Journey to Hyper-Converged Awesome-Sauce

Presenter: Shannon Champion, Product Marketing Manager, VxRail and Mike Conroy, Senior Director, Technical Operations, Rent-A-Center



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It's always great to hear from customers that are using our technology, but it's even better if they can share those stories with other customers. And that's exactly what the session "VxRail: A Customer's Journey to Hyper-Converged Awesome-Sauce" was all about. Mike Conroy of Rent-A-Center leads a staff of over 30 IT architects, engineers, and managers responsible for managing the entire data center including storage, network, virtualization, and operating systems. I interviewed Mike as he took the audience through the Rent-A-Center IT environment before and after deploying VxRail, which was their first foray into hyper-converged. He discussed why HCI was a good fit and what made VxRail stand out from the competition in their proof-of-concept. He provided impressive tangible benefits they are already experiencing. He also gave really great insights and tips to help make sure the deployment goes smoothly. In both sessions, which each had over 100 attendees, the Q&A was extremely engaging. Customers asked about specific use cases and workloads, configurations and settings, upgrades, data protection, and more. Mike answered every question thoroughly and transparently, which garnered more trust from the audience and kept the questions flowing.


The best part? While Mike and some of his key staff were at the show, they deployed additional VxRail nodes to double their existing footprint seamlessly. There couldn't be a better testament to the simplicity of VxRail - good stuff!


Learn more about VxRail



SAP HANA Infrastructure made simple with Ready Solutions

Presenters: James Whalen, Workloads Solutions Marketing and Chris Ward, Global Application Specialist, SAP


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SAP HANA is a transformational (and disruptive) in-memory DBMS, providing the ability to run OLAP and OLTP systems on the same platform.  Now with S4 HANA, companies are looking to mainstream HANA in the datacenter. As businesses embrace SAP HANA,  we know IT needs high performing resilient infrastructure providing scale-up/ out deployment options for this business critical platform. At Dell EMC World, we held a session to learn about DELL EMC portfolio of Ready Solutions (Node, Bundles, and Systems) for SAP. I teamed on the session with Chris Ward, Global Application Specialist for SAP.


As SAP HANA represents major disruption to applications AND Infrastructure teams, a  key objective was position DELL EMC infrastructure offers in the context of SAP’s HANA hardware certification model.  There were several takeaways from our session and resulting conversations:


  • SAP HANA is a hot topic for IT:  Both our sessions were well attended and with a “show of hands” most if not all customers were in the process of deploying and/or planning their SAP HANA deployments.
  • Clarity on DELL EMC Infrastructure strategy and offers  for SAP:  SAP has it’s hardware certification  with guidelines on deployment options. DELL EMC has infrastructure (servers, networks, storage) options for SAP. It quickly gets confusing for our customers and partners.  So simply stated, our customers were looking to understand and rationalized our offers so they can work with their management and SAP architects when they get back to the office. With Chris Wards support, I really think we accomplished this
  • Partners were excited and looking to expand their portfolio for SAP:  Heritage DELL and EMC partners are already embracing the opportunity to be educating themselves on our portfolio for SAP so they can further develop the go to market and business develop plans.
  • The opportunity is now:  All the SAP customers we met confirmed change is happening. Those committed to SAP as a vendor, realize they need to plan for running HANA in the data center.


As a closing thought, customers and partners confirmed we are on the right track!:) They were very receptive to our offers and the completeness of our portfolio for SAP HANA.


Learn more about SAP HANA



XC Series Ecosystem

Presenter: John Shirley, Director of Product Management and Technical Marketing



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Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is taking the world by storm.  While customers are quickly drawn to the ease and simplicity of deploying and managing HCI , we’ve noticed the surrounding ecosystem is still largely designed for traditional infrastructure approaches.  In this session, we discussed how Dell EMC is taking a different approach to solving ecosystems solutions for HCI.  Specifically, we discussed with our customers and partners three distinct topics.


First, we talked with the audience about why Dell EMC PowerEdge servers have been designed for the software defined era. Specifically we talked about a set of tools that we have developed which are used as a platform for delivering software on PowerEdge.  This suite of software is call PowerTools and you’ll be hearing more about this from Dell EMC very soon.  We discussed how PowerTools is currently being used on the XC Series platforms (and many other platforms by the way) and how we are extending the tools to be used by our ecosystem partners.  This led us to a discussion on how PowerTools is helping Dell EMC modernize data protection for HCI with Avamar and Data Domain virtual editions by providing our customers with streamlined  deployment, runtime, and monitoring capabilities in a modern UI.  Our next topic focused on a solution for small and medium business customers.  We announced a new product is called XC430 Xpress and it’s all about being easy, reliable, and affordable for our mid-market customers (especially if they are running Microsoft Hyper-V).  Our channel partners in particular were excited to hear about XC430 Xpress as they know Dell EMC understands this market better than anyone in the industry.  Finally, we discussed a modern approach to how customers consume HCI.  A new solution called Cloud Flex allows customers to have a choice in how they consume the technology.  No money down, low monthly payments, no long-term lock in, guaranteed declining payments, and a choice of CAPEX and OPEX are all defining characteristic of Cloud Flex.


As you can see, we discussed a lot and we are nowhere close to being done in this area … stay tuned


Learn more about XC Series and XC Xpress




Presenter: Juan Vega, Director, Product Management



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Ready Nodes are an exciting new concept in servers, adding value for customers who want to build and manage their own datacenters, but remove some of the pain points that are part and parcel of “do it yourself.” Simply put, a Ready Node from Dell EMC guarantees you get the right hardware; pre-configures the system with the right firmware and, optionally, drivers; and ensures an improved support experience by delivering contextual, collaborative support right from the start. Customers no longer need to look up an HCL and painfully ensure adherence because Dell EMC offers that as table stakes with our Ready Node configurations. Customers can save multiple deployment steps because Dell EMC’s pre-configuration removes the need to identify firmware and driver versions, download them, and install them…that’s all done before the server ever leaves our factory. And finally, Dell EMC ensures a better support experience because we’ve collaborated ahead of time with our software partners and we both know we’ve delivered a known-good system – so our customers get strong collaboration, not finger pointing, right from the start.


Learn more about Ready Nodes



Interested in Hybrid Cloud Solutions? Check out our Dell EMC World sessions blog on our Everything Cloud at Dell EMC community!

With 13,500 in attendance, there was a lot of excitement around Dell EMC World and the Converged Products and Solutions Division’s offerings of the newly combined tech giants.

DEW 17 BW Cube interview.JPG.jpgBob Wambach, VP of Marketing, Converged Platforms and Solutions Division, sat down with John Walls from The Cube to talk about how Dell EMC is helping our customers on their Digital Transformation journey.

“We are on to a new era… business is demanding transformation, and it is our job to help customers along that journey,” stated Wambach.


Dell EMC is facilitating that digital change with products and solutions that cover the full build to buy continuum.  Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure represent the buy side of the continuum, with pre-engineered turn-key systems that take the burden of lifecycle assurance out of the hands of IT, freeing staff to focus on business priorities.


The Dell EMC Customer Value Program was created to help customers achieve and fully realize the business value of their Digital Transformation. “We want to help customers assess how they do things, identify what the business needs are, and help them achieve those business results,” said Wambach.


The Customer Value Program (CVP) is much more than Total Cost of Ownership. It’s about maximizing business value from infrastructure, and using infrastructure to help enable business innovation. We offer Digital transformation and IT transformation guidance by helping customers chart a baseline through a business value assessment.  Then we create transformation plans that tell them what they can do to get the most value out of their infrastructure deployments.  Guides and manuals offer IT customers a self-service way to transform operations within the organization. Certification programs, professional services and residency programs provide hands-on assistance.  To complete the value cycle, we have a methodology that helps customers measure the impact that the infrastructure has on the business - enabling IT customers to connect what they’re doing in the data center to what is happening in the business.


We have a lot of victories to share.  As we take a look at our customer experiences, those that transformed received tremendous value from their CI and HCI deployments. But even in success stories, it is important for IT teams to be able to articulate the value they provide to their businesses. As a case in point, after two years, one of our large industry customers was ready for a tech refresh and wanted to understand their investment better. When we dug in and applied the CVP methodology the customer found tremendous cost savings.  By essentially eliminating downtime, they determined that it translated into millions of dollar of savings per year to the business in lost revenues and resources related to outages.  In addition, IT staff members that were freed to be re-purposed on new services for the company resulted in more than a $1 million dollars per year return on those new initiatives.


The purpose of the Customer Value Program is to take customers beyond just understanding how IT supports the business, to becoming drivers of higher levels of business innovation and internal champions of increased business competitiveness.