As I engage with my IT and non-IT peers alike, I'm often asked, "So, what does a private cloud really look like?"

 

Well, here are 2 new 3D representations that illustrate the current and near-future core foundation of Intel IT's private cloud:

 

Current Cloud Architecture.JPG

Future Cloud Achitecture.JPG

5 Key Points to Consider:

1. Two-socket Intel® Xeon® processor-based servers are the foundation of our data center and private cloud because of their versatility and cost efficency.

2. We have begun shifting from rack-mount to blade servers within our private cloud to enable converged network fabric while reducing hardware TCO by about 27 percent.

3. To continue to improve overall system performance, we have invested in IA based storage and networking solutions including 10GbE, SSDs and Xeon® based storage solutions.

4. Our cloud foundation clusters comprise up to 16 physical hosts per pod with a blended 15:1 virtual to physical consolidation ratio.

5. Proactively refreshing with the latest Xeon® based servers will help us further drive up utilization to hit our goal of 80% through multi-tenancy while maintaining QoS.

 

 

@ajayc47

5 Domains of Warefare.jpgIt is official folks, Cyber-Security is now the fifth warfare domain, after land, sea, air, and space.  It now joins the ranks for which the military must understand and plan for offensive and defensive strategies as well as supporting tactics.  The U.S. Naval Academy is mandating cyber-security training as part of an evolving curriculum.  It is a good step for nations to both recognize and formalize this domain.  It solidly seats into the minds of those who defend their country, the importance of cyber security.  As such, it will continue to bolster the awareness, collective expertise, and systematic improvements over time.  Just a matter of time before all the armed forces will require expertise to combat cyber based threats. 

 

Source: SC Magazine U.S. Naval Academy: First to teach cybersecurity as requirement

As many of you know one of the best perks about working at Intel is that every seven years, US employees get an eight week paid ‘Sabbatical’ where basically you can do anything you want with the time off and with the intent you come back to work mentally refreshed and revitalized ready to get back to work.   This summer, May to mid July, I went on my fourth Sabbatical with a plan in mind.  Unfortunately both my wife’s and my parents had recently passed away and fortunately our son at 25 decided to move out on his own.  Our life plan was when both these events happened we would seek to downsize our home and move somewhere else in the Phoenix area.  Ironically we decided on an ‘Active Adult Community’ about 5 miles from where we lived.  About three weeks into my Sabbatical we took possession of thee house and set about with a goal to remodel and be ready to move in the October timeframe when the temperature cooled off in Phoenix but do as much preparation work as we could over the summer Sabbatical timeframe.

 

So enough background information and to the point of my blog here.  The house we choose had basically everything we liked as to the size and layout but it needed a complete remodel.  Our Realtor was kind enough to allow my wife and I time in the house for walkthroughs prior to taking possession and I made a comprehensive list of everything we saw and wanted to change.  Evenings I set to work on my excel spreadsheet listing every item by row with a priority, scope, justification, and estimated cost columns to name a few.  The process continued with my wife and I first in a myopic view agreeing to the scope and justification of each item then we prioritized each from one to the # 70’s.  This iterative process continued as I combined actual cost of items with an estimated construction cost range.  As a GPM (Green Project Manager), our ‘theme’ was to make this home as energy efficient as possible so many of the remodel items we wanted to do had that as our justification/ reason why we were doing it.  Once we had the list completed and agreed to we then broke it out by ‘phases’ based on our immediate needs and budgetary constraints but in short it was everything we needed to do for the interior and then we’d consider doing exterior work (big patio, front patio, new landscaping, painting, etc) at a later date after we’ve settled in. Point here is my wife and I as partners in this project were in total agreement as to all we wanted to do so any changes were an easy discussion based on our priority, baseline, budget, and boundaries of what we wanted to do.

 

Our Realtor had recommended a local contractor with a history of doing work in the community.  We’d happened to meet another couple who recently had some home remodeling work down by that contractor and after seeing the work we decided we’d bid initially to this contractor vs. competitively bid out.  For reference this estimated budget for this remodel altogether was $40k USD.   For the Phase One bid meeting I’d modified my spreadsheet removing the estimates and leaving space for a line item bid and notes along with the total.  The contractor is a husband / wife team with a crew of 7-8 workers.  During our first meeting/walkthrough we described the work along with the explaining the justification of why we wanted this done.  During the course of the meeting, the contractors commented they had never had a couple give them such a complete scope of work in agreement so overall it was a smooth start and in a second meeting when they presented their estimate which there was an explainable delta in my estimate vs. theirs the overall cost was close so we signed contracts, handed them a key, and turned them loose.

 

The work took about eight weeks to complete in total.  There were gaps in work as for example kitchen cabinets take about five weeks to deliver as they are made and shipped when sufficient orders are placed from the manufacturer. As we were still living in our current home determining what we were taking with, selling, donating, and/or buying new the two months timeframe was fine.  As work progressed and we saw the changes we decided to add a few items.  As the contractor was busy in the field with a few jobs including mine and knew my background, I offered to document the changes to ensure the paperwork and costs kept in line with changes.  This worked out well as we discussed each change with what was base bid and what was a change and the estimated cost.  I was not trying to get anything for free but wanted to ensure I got everything I paid for.  As we neared completion I did a walkthrough with the majority of the punch list items being painting.  As it turned out all the construction work (as I observed it) was excellent but I began to see a quality trend in the painting.  As I started to notice more small painting items I documented them and walked through.  Unfortunately the contractors’ punch list guy, who was stellar, had to fix them. Though some items are expected, there were some clearly poor quality items and I figured he’d certainly feedback what he saw.  Upon completion we closed with the understanding that after we move in if we see anything to document and they’d come back and fix it.  After a month I’d found a few things – all painting which I made a list.  Now two items really irritated me one was the top of our guest shower wall had not been painted along with the interior frame of the garage roll up door.  In changing a light bulb I noticed the shower issue and on a weekend with the garage door open I noticed the frame not painted.  Now this might be trivial but to me clearly to painter took shortcuts assuming I’d never see these things.

 

Of course the contractor fixed these however an interesting thing happened.  The wife contractor partner met with my wife and I alone and said due to my keen eye and diligence they were taking steps to improve their quality control.  I felt honored in a way.  I had applied my Intel PM skills,  quality, and 32 years of general tenacity to not only successfully ensured a predictive positive result for me but catalyst a positive change for the contractor who by now had also become friends.  Then she dropped a ‘bomb’ I had not anticipated in my thinking.  We had discussed doing the exterior work with them next year (about $20k USD).  I figured they would want the project especially if work got slow and they knew my expectations. She advised that they didn’t want to do any future work for me as I had too high expectations.  Wow – after all the positive events of this project and relationship I got this.

 

Several things immediately came to mind along my mental continuum of my adherence to PM practices  due diligence, and my learned Intel skills and experience got me what was 100% expected to did I push a vendor too hard due to my scrutiny, zeal, follow-up.  I know I was nice – even by their own admission helpful to the vendor but I’d apparently sent a message that I pushed to hard or set the bar to high for them.  To close on the story we talked more and using my good Intel communication skills we ended up agreeing to look at the future patio project when the time came.  What I did learn is there is a definite culture at Intel where we make our commitments, set the bar, and have high expectations that perhaps non-Intel people don’t readily understand and can adapt to.  Is this why Intel as a company is having progressive record quarterly performance in a global down economy?  In summary, for the future at risk of frightening off contractors I’ve concluded to continue to apply my Intel PM skills to my advantage.  …JGH

Great news! Intel was selected as Computerworld's Top Green-IT vendors for 2011. Computerworld identified organizations that are implementing IT best practices to reduce energy consumption in IT equipment and are using technology to conserve energy and lower carbon emissions.


Seventy organizations participated. Computerworld developed a set of criteria, with the help of green-IT industry experts. Based on the criteria and weighting scheme, the top 12 Green-IT Users and top 12 Green-IT Vendors were chosen.


One of Intel’s most impactful sustainability initiatives to date, is our Data Center refresh program, summarized in this 2011 Earth day video.  If you want to learn more, read Intel IT’s Strategy for Sustainability paper.


This is the second year in a row that Intel has been selected for this award. Congratulations to Intel IT and all the other Intel employees who have been contributing IT Sustainability ideas, and participating in IT Sustainability initiatives! 

 

green_logo_B.jpg

Justification for Information Security expense can be difficult in today’s economic environment. Oftentimes it takes creativity and communication skills to clarify the importance of forming a reasonable balance in the cost of information security controls. This balance is relating to the acceptable risk in order to effectively protect an organization’s information assets. Sadly, with many organizations there is a disconnect on this balance and there is no information security budget.

 

A good basis for understanding of security controls should be established with distinction between administrative, technical, or physical with the most important being administrative. Yes that is correct, if there is expenditures for technical security solutions it should be described as a requirement in the security policy or a mitigating control of a risk identified during a risk assessment. Technical security controls are commonly used to automate what cannot be done sufficiently with manual effort. The physical part should be the basic premise of locking the door to the data center and preventing unauthorized physical system access. Reporting structure should be a common method for justification of security control expense which will show how well a tool is working and that it is being evaluated on a regular basis.

 

But on a low to no budget for security, how can it become a bigger priority? It may be good to find opportunities to integrating security into other already existing processes. Opportunities may include:.

  • Security awareness training - this is one area that should not be taken lightly. It is the opportunity to inform the users on how to protect the corporate information assets and what is described in the security policy, why it exists and how to gain further information whenever needed. If this effort does not currently exist, consider an effort to integrate it into the new employee orientation first. Then, after some success can be demonstrated, the training could be provided through WBT’s on an annual or biannual basis. The success may be shown in surveys to users who have taken the training.
  • Another opportunity for communication about security is a bulletin area such as the corporate intranet site or a monthly newsletter distributed throughout the organization. Including some common threats and techniques for avoidance of being a victim is a good way to remind users that their activity plays a factor in the vulnerability equation.

 

Without security awareness training, the users may consider security controls as an obstruction to getting their work done and increases the possibility that a work around will be used to bypass the controls. Additionally, users are the front line of defense to security as most events can be witnessed by the user and reported appropriately through the corporate help desk or through the security group. If there is already security awareness training offered, there may be opportunities for improvements of content that are not very costly to the organization. In my next blog, I’ll expand into some other business processes where it may be possible to integrating security practices. Maybe there are other creative ideas for improvements on a tight budget that others can share.

Hello Again,

 

While my blogging has been infrequent, I do want to share a little bit now, and if I start doing small blogs, I am hoping I will do more…  so short blog tonight, again on a plane, no clouds in sight though.

 

Ever since Intel IT started sharing what we pulled off with Compute IaaS in our enterprise private Cloud in late 2010, we have been getting called upon by many large enterprises to share how we did it.  The most fascinating thing I have found about Cloud is that it is relevant in every single sector of business that has IT.  We are in an interesting moment of convergence of requirements from how people expect and want to work and live.  The move towards pervasive mobility and the desire to get and share information anywhere and everywhere at any time is driving the app developers to require scalable accessible platforms to build their apps on so they can focus on their end users.  And IT in every single sector has a major role to play here to make this successful, I have yet to find a single sector that doesn’t want and need this to survive.  In the past when I did Grid Computing, it was nearly impossible to find other IT shops that we could discuss ideas with, now with Cloud the concepts of an accessible infrastructure and application platform is really sinking in, and everyone wants to go.

 

What we did at Intel IT isn’t really that mind blowing when compared to some of the Public Cloud solutions out there, but what we did has set a trail for other large enterprises to embark on, and I personally really enjoy helping them go faster down the path to enable their employees with the best accessible solutions possible.

 

We are in an exciting transformation time right now, where the public and private clouds are really going to help us move faster in our technical hyper evolution, and the power is way beyond just growing businesses, the opportunities are endless for anyone who has an innovative idea inside of our companies to supply a new productivity solution, or a genius 12 year old in Mozambique that has an idea on how to make solar panels more efficient.

 

To close out the blog, I am going to share our 3 big business focus areas for Cloud into the next year

  1. Increase our capital utilization – this is through federation, larger pools – same approach we took in driving up our Grid environment to 80% utilization.  All while maintaining strong quality of service.
  2. Increased Velocity at a regular cadence – compute IaaS is just the start, next we need to ensure we have data (structured, unstructured, file, object) services exposed, and we need to tackle the time it takes to get new solutions out the door, we can bog ourselves down in our path to production… and my goal is Innovative Idea to Production Service in under a day.  A combination of PaaS and more IaaS will get us there, as well as more automation to make scaling/functional testing and release management a non-laborious process.
  3. Zero Business Impact – no application/services downtime… embrace Design for Failure, this is how we manage our Grid, and this is how the successful web software apps are running.  No matter how much money you spend on extra pipes, extra power, extra servers, you will have a failure.  Assume it, and build your software to deal with it correctly, go active/active across multiple data centers, push your software vendors to think differently.  At the same time we know we have tons of legacy apps that were written 3 months ago, so we need to ensure we are resilient at the core, but without overspending.

 

My next blog will be in our top 10+ goals for our Cloud investments moving forward, and as usual would love to hear what you are doing with Cloud.

 

Cheers,

-Das

Intel IT Cloud Lead

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/it-leadership/intel-it-it-leadership-cloud-computing-brief.html

First of all Client Aware Cloud is something that is still emerging and here in Intel IT we are investigating ways to leverage what is available and helping to shape what is coming. So disclaimers up front - this is mostly an emerging area where technologies are changing and emerging.

 

One way to view Client Aware Cloud is simply where the cloud services that we use are able to discern the capabilities of the end point device or client and then leverage those capabilities either to offload processing and/or to produce a better experience for the consumer of the service. For example you may have a virtual desktop that runs on a server and you want to watch a training video from your end point device. Depending on what end point your using your experience can vary greatly. There is software that will determine if your end point device is capable of the high end graphics to render the video on the end point instead of on the server - if it is capable the video is rendered on the device and your video watching experience is far better than if you were watching a video that is being rendered on the server which may be busy with other workloads or just have lousy video rendering capabilties.

 

Obviously this results in a better experience for the consumer but it also means that the service provider, internal to your company or not, can offload workloads from the server to the end point which helps in overall performance.

 

This also means that the end point device you're using is important - one that is capable of rendering the video in the format desired will be a much better experience than one that is not capable of rendering it. This comes in to play when comparing thin clients to more "rich" clients such as Intel® Core™ i5 processor based systems.

 

This is a direction that we see as growing more and more as end point devices become more capable and as cloud services become more popular. It allows the cloud service provider to create very robust services knowing that the experience will be better for their customers and will help them manage their own computing resources....

 

Although it does take some changes in the way the web services are created and some changes in the way devices expose their capabilities. All part of becoming more context aware.

 

what do you think?

 

for more info on this topic listen to the podcast - Inside IT : Client in the Cloud

and this white paper - Applying Client-aware Technologies for Desktop Virtualization Cloud Services

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