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The Data Stack

12 Posts authored by: gwagnon

The short answer is... it’s me: Greg Wagnon and my stuff.


The longer and perhaps more accurate answer is that it is me and my offer to you a collection of insights and perspectives that you will not get anywhere else in the world.  The Data Center Dude is who I am as I show you the people I know around work and the things we are all working on.


Why am I 'qualified' for such a title?

Well, I am not sure “Dude” is much of a title, but the “Data Center” part is certainly pertinent to my experiences.  I've been at Intel for over 11 years now, and that time has been spent on Intel’s server products.  I've worked in server validation teams, performance benchmarking, competitive analysis, board design, and the marketing of these products to various customers around the world.  I've administered several servers along the way, supported just about every family member with their client computing needs, and played the IT Administrator role by helping a small business manage their systems as well.  I have not managed a large Data Center, but I know people that do, and we'll see if we can get them to share their experiences with us.


I am by no means an expert on all things.  I do know a LOT of the experts though.  Data Center’s utilize servers, and knowing the various components, and people who define what Servers and Data Centers are, is what I am here to offer you.  So, between what I know and who I know around here, that makes me a good guide for you to learn more about Intel Servers and the Data Center.


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Sometimes measuring the bottleneck can be interpreted in so many ways.


What is a Data Center?

Intel holds the view that a Data Center is not just a giant building with thousands of servers racked and blinking away in the dark cool environment that they need.  These buildings essentially run large business applications.  They grind through amazing amounts of work that many of us will not appreciate until years later when, for instance… a product that is being modeled by all these servers would the market (Intel’s Green Field Data Center video as an example of an Intel Data Center).  This is however, only one type of Data Center.


A Data Center can also be described as that single server box under the desk in the back of the office of a law firm, or eye doctor's office.  That one computer is the center of their computing world and may be running all the mail, billing, web access, and application sharing that the entire office uses from their desktops.  It is the center of their computing needs and thus, a Data Center for them.  The Data Center are these two things and every other implementation in between that you can think of where a server system, or many, many, many, many systems do work.


What the Data Center Dude will bring to you.

Essentially, it will be videos, BLOG's and perspectives that you may not get otherwise.  I am going to various events and will report 'Live From' to you with pictures, video, and information about what is going on.  You will see the server product demonstrations going on from both Intel and others that are key to our industry.  All in an effort to offer you a unique perspective and insights into what Intel is doing to enable the vast, yet often quiet world of Data Center’s and all the components involved.


So, sit back, check back frequently, watch what I have to offer and be sure to let us know what you think.  We’re not looking for video gold or uber viral videos, so be kind on the quality of our video production.  We’re doing this on our own, without much paid expertise, so look at the content more than the delivery.  This is just from me to you, nothing fancy.


Our first video highlights Total Cost of Ownership on servers.  This video was done with a coworker of mine, who wrote a BLOG post discussing how server performance drives down IT costs and as you will see, he sits right across from me.  These videos are of me and my coworkers at work, so you will get to see more than just the content of the day, you get to see where we work and a little about how we spend our time.


I will be monitoring Data Center Dude video comments and responding as well, so leave comments wherever you can.




I've had an opportunity to attend a few launch events for the Intel Xeon Processor 7500 Series products and wanted to share a little of my perspective.  I also took a few pictures along the way that you might appreciate.



First up was the San Francisco, March 30th main event.  Kirk Skaugen is the keynote speaker, with a rather innovative stage that made it appear as though the images and charts floated in 3D:



We had numerous vendors in the room showing their products and available to talk with customers, press, and analysts.  That last part was the most impressive for me.  Having Dell, IBM, HP, NEC, SGI, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Unisys, Cray, Oracle, Supermicro and a few others in the room to show off systems was amazing.  I talked with representatives from most of these companies and all were excited to be showing off not only their systems, but to talk about how well these systems performed.  Many of them had excellent innovations in their specific designs, which made it clear that there are a lot of options for all levels of computing need.


Here are several of the big iron systems and racks on display in San Francisco:


IMG_2263.JPG IMG_2262.JPG IMG_2254.JPG

A little side note... the venue for the SF event was at the Bentley Reserve, a former California Federal Reserve Bank.  They allowed us to go check out the safe downstairs, and here is a peak at Kirk listening in on the description as we look through the several feet thick doorway:



Next up is New York launch event at The Roosevelt Hotel on April 6th.  This event had a different feel to it.  Several software companies (Microsoft, VMWare, Red Hat, Novell/SuSE and others) as well as a few server vendors were there (IBM, HP, Dell, Cisco, Fujitsu, NEC and others).


The presentations were not quite as 'animated', but they were certainly compelling.  In particular, a guest speaker (Juan Enriquez - a Harvard Fellow) was talking about medical research and how we are breaking through with computing now, but the next great technological 'wave' is in the genetic code and we need to stay afloat and not let the Financial Crisis of late, deter us from moving forward.


Here's a vew of the presentation room and the mass of people ready to listen in on the presentations:



Next up is the event in Ottawa, Canada on April 8th held at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.



I've found that a good portion of the value derived from these events, is in the networking activity.  People contacting with people in the same business, supporting businesses, or simply getting to know what each other are doing.  Here are some pictures of various conversations going on in the room.

Group_Chatting.JPG Dell_Chatting.JPG Chatting1.JPG


Here is Shannon Poulin (Xeon Marketing - our keynote speaker) chatting with a few people.


I took some video from this event in Ottawa and will edit that up and post shortly.  That will give you an idea of the presentations and the content being discussed.


I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peak at Intel Xeon launch events.  There are many people involved in bringing these events to life, and this view is only just a glimpse at the result.


Thanks for joining us and enjoy your new Intel Xeon processors.  They are awesome.


The new processor series arrived early this morning with the posting of this product page and this press release.

Here are some of the earliest articles:

TechReport has a discussion about it here

Hardware.Info has a review of it here (in Dutch)

PCMag has an article here

ZDNet has an article here with slides

PCWorld has an article here comparing it to predecessors


Plenty more to come as half of the world consumes the content, and the other half wakes up to all the buzz.


What happened to vConsolidate?

Posted by gwagnon Jan 12, 2010

As one of the 'owners' of vConsolidate for the last nearly 3 years... I would like to clarify just what we (Intel) did with the benchmark as a little insight for the folks that wrote and read this article:  Does anyone care about virtualization performance in 2010?


Early 2009, we stopped development and maintenance of the benchmark.  It is however still used by several companies for their own internal testing and evaluation of server configurations.  We no longer support external publication of vConsolidate benchmark results.


Prior to this, it was available to customers via direct contact with me and my team.  I have a list (that I cannot share, sorry) of companies (OEM's, ISV's, Finance, Tech, Medical, Auto, Insurance, and others) who requested access over the last few years and used vConsolidate in their own test lab environments.  That was after all a primary goal of the benchmark;  internal evaluation of server systems for a virtualization environment.  Its goal from the start was not to become an industry standard benchmark.  But rather, it was always designed and maintained essentially as a test tool.  Although, for a lack of any other solution, it crossed that boundry on some occasions (with approvals of course).


In terms of virtualization solutions, VMMark came about at roughly the same time period and had roughly the same test scenario's involved as did vConsolidate.  The most often discussed comparison is that VMMark focuses on VMWare environments, where vConsolidate allowed for multiple hypervisor configurations.  One key difference that most people do not often call out is that VMWare made a benchmark for publicly evaluating server configurations, we made vConsolidate as a test tool for internal labs to evaluate server configurations.  Customers needed something to test with in non-VMWare test environment, so vConsolidate was updated slightly, given a GUI, and offered as a tool they could use.  But it was still primarily only for internal evaluation.


Why did we stop development, maintenance, and essentially offering vConsolidate out as a virtualization environment test solution?  Well, the short answer is that SPEC has had their own version of a virtualization benchmark forthcoming that would supersede what vConsolidate offers.  We fed a lot of what we learned from our efforts on vConsolidate to the SPEC committee... as members, we leverage our experience.  Ultimatly, we decided that supporting an industry accepted/developed benchmark is better for customers.


As far as the question of 'does anyone care about virtualization benchmarks in 2010'.  I guarantee the answer is yes.


There you have it, some insights.

I have to admit, I have never had the opportunity to be involved in HPC, Super Computing, or the communities that have evolved around such things.  My first real experience with it was yesterday at SC09 in Portland, Oregon.  A conference like any other was my thinking.  But, when I started walking around the exhibition area (booths), I was amazed at the number of Universities and education based solutions that were represented.


Here is a quick montage of images that I put together of the educational facilities I saw and took a picture of...


I am sure there are many, many more, but I only captured the few that are represented here.


The one on the bottom left is not really an educational institution, but rather a company that I stopped and talked with for a few minutes.  They essentially offer up their datacenter and supercomputer infrastructure for all the education facilities in the state of Alabama... K-12 and Universities too.


Here is another picture I took of a scout troop that was visiting the event.  What a great opportunity for them to see and hear all about the most powerful computers in the world.

SC09 038.jpg


Here they are again listening (attentively) to a speaker from NASA talkiing about the expansion of the universe and how we study it.

SC09 054.jpg


Education is and should remain a priority for all of us.  This is hopefully a good reminder of that.  It certainly was for me.



Congratulations to Ron as the winner of the Intel Xeon Workstation Sweepstakes.  He has been a member of The Server Room for over a year and was able to complete the quiz on the first attempt.


Good job!




"I was excited to hear that I won the Intel Xeon workstation sweepstakes. With its incredible performance, the system offers me the flexibility to use it in so many ways that I'm not sure how to best utilize it at the moment. It's a welcome problem to have and I look forward exploring the possibilities. Thanks to Intel and the Server Room team for providing a great resource to everyone!"




Thank you all for entering and look for more sweepstakes offerings in the near future.


- Your 'The Server Room' Admin's

Intel's RK Hiremane & Sun's David Caplan discuss Xeon 5500 blade servers virtualization ROI


Join experts from Intel, Sun Microsystems, and Ziff Davis Enterprise on August 20 for an informative eSeminar, where you will learn:


  • How Sun’s Network Express Module technology works
  • How easy it is to achieve high availability and near-instant failover
  • How to reduce network cabling by a factor of 10:1
  • How to simplify network and storage management.

I had an opportunity to travel to San Franciso a couple weeks ago to attend and capture some video at the Sun JavaOne conference.  Here are the video's as they are posted to YouTube:

Sun JavaOne Conference Keynote with Intel's Diane Bryant

This video shows the Keynote where Jonathan Schwartz and Diane Bryant are talking to a customer who implimented Sun systems based on the Intel Xeon 5500 servies processor.  The customer is impressed, to say the least.




Sun JavaOne Conference Intel Booth and Demonstration


This video is a tour of the Intel Booth in the conference with a walk through of the demonstrations being shown.  A perspective you don't often get unless you attend a conference directly.


Overall an interesting experience gathing and working to creat this content.  There are so many details that go into gathering the raw content and getting it turned into something that is more consumable.  I have a new found respect for anyone that does this regularly.


Hope you enjoy.




The buzz around Nehalem

Posted by gwagnon Apr 8, 2009

A part of my job these days is to interact with and track online press content for our server products.  The launch of the Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series (codenamed Nehalem) product was a big one.  Big by any standard of measurement (...except for perhaps Geologic time).  I thought I would share with you a peak at some of the metrics we have looked at as an outcome of last week's product launch.


Metrics are always tricky, because the source of the data is always something you can question, and frequently find holes.  But, if you take a bunch of data from different sources, stand back a bit, then look at it with your hands cupped together over your eyes to block the shiny distractions (think big picture), you often get some actionable tidbits out of it.


Something as simple as Pageviews is a metric of success.  The idea is that you are measuring the number of people who look at your page... then you look deeper and find that bots and search sites are also looking at the new content to categorize it, log it, and have it ready for people to search upon.  So, Pageviews are a bit of a can of worms.  Good can, good worms, but not necessarily what you were expecting to find when you opened it.  So, we look at it with some measure of caution.  Again, big picture, you do see some trends that tell a little bit of the story.


Note: I only discuss and cover a few items... there are many, many, many more.


First here are just a few of the landing pages that I personally keep an eye on...

Community sites; 'The Server Room' and its new sub-community the 'Server Solutions Insider' where you are right now.

On Facebook, we have some fan pages: 'The Server Room'  and  ''Intel Xeon 5500 "Nehalem"'


For the Community sites we can use a simple tool like Google Analytics to see Pageviews.  The following shows the pageview trend of 'The Server Room' over a few months.  Again, numbers are not really important as much as the pattern you can see.


Results: Weekend traffic is lower than mid-week, a couple of product launches and the 'buzz' around them drive a fair amount of traffic, and finally that last peak was pretty big compared to anything previous.  All good trends to be aware of.  The next big step is to do something with that information... and that is something to share another day.


For the Facebook pages, we get some nice metrics directly from the admin tools.  Here is some nice trend data on the 'Intel Xeon 5500 "Nehalem"' page


Results: The total number of 'Fans' (dark blue) are growing, but on a daily (light blue) basis, we only see some peaks and not a consistent growth.  Actionable item (assuming we find such a metric as growing Facebook fans of vital importance) is that we look into how to promote the site more, and make it worth people's time to join.  But, you have to look at the forum and the point of it all... not be pushy.  Then decide what to do (if anything) from there.


Now we switch gears a bit and look at some external (non-Intel) sources that we like to keep an eye on.  These are journalist websites and specifically we look for certain articles and product reviews.  The ones that actually test hardware, then give their results and analysis are key to watch since their influence is vital to knowing how well a product might be perceived.  Here are some articles in particular that I found especially interesting (no particular order):


The Tech Report - Intel's Xeon W5580 processors - The Best Server CPUs part 2: the Intel "Nehalem" Xeon X5570

The Inquirer - Nehalem proves its server mettle (Chinese Language) - Intel Nehalem-EP处理器首发深度评测

CRN - Review: Intel's New Nehalem Historic, Game Changing

InfoWorld - Test Center: Intel's Nehalem simply sizzles - Nehalem: Xeon Gets Core i7 Upgrade

Tecchannel (German Language) - Test: Intel Xeon X5570 Nehalem-EP - Nehalem Performance Preview (Dutch Language): - Intel Xeon X5570 'Nehalem' test

The Inquirer - Double Nehalem for double power


The metrics you gather from these (as with anything), depends on what you want to measure.  If you simply want to count the number of reviews... ok, there are a 11 (many more are out there).  If you want to look at the number of benchmarks where our product came out on top... ok, a large majority.  If you want to look at the 'tone' of the article... ok, that is very dependent upon the reader's mood (I'm feeling pretty good actually) and even more on the mood of the writer at the time it was written.  So, what do we get from all this?  We take all of these things and give it the 'take a few steps away' view (big picture again).  Hey, it all looks good.  Actionable items... something else to share with you another day.  ;o)


All in all, a lot of good stuff to consume around the launch of the Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series (codenamed Nehalem) products.  It is a joy to follow it, a deeper joy to be a part of it, and this product represents a 'new normal' for those of us that interact with the social media aspect of things.


Leave me a note, I would be happy to explore this topic with you more.

- GW

I am currently sitting in PDX (Portland, Oregon) waiting for my flight to Dallas, then on to Sao Paulo, Brazil, then on to Porto Seguro, Brazil.


This is where our PR team is running an event called Intel Editor's Day (IED).  This is the 3rd such event this year and I have had the pleasure of presenting Server Benchmarking at each event.  The first in Mexico, the second in Costa Rica a few weeks ago.  IED offers regional journalists a chance to get product information and demonstrations from Intel so they can be ready to report what they see, review, and evaluate when looking at these products in the market.


It's a team effort with these events.  I am 'the server guy', yet I am carrying a few MID's and even an Atom demo card for my brethren (and sisteren?).  I even have a wafer with me... something of the 45nm type.   ;o)


The reason I am going is to talk with the 30+ journalists about distinguishing between client and server benchmarks.  If you (the reader) don't know that there is a difference, there definitely is and you should let me know so we can offer some information for you to read about it. 


My goal at IED is show a few benchmarks, talk about a few more (SPEC, TPC, etc.), and ultimately learn about how they might run these benchmarks.  Education is the goal, but it goes both ways.


I'll add more when I get a chance... I have to grab a bite before getting on the plane.

Yes, Interop has Virtualization training.  It seems to be everywhere these days.  The question is, how much quality is in the quantity? 

Well, I am going to find out. 

I am scheduled to attend Interop next week (April 28 - May 2) and am signed up for over a dozen classes/sessions that have to do with Virtualization.  Here is a sampling;

- The ABC's of Virtualization: A shortcut Guide to Virtual Technology

- Virtualization and Security

- Virtualization beyond Consolidation; Driving down OPEX, Not just CAPEX

- Virtualization's Phantom Menace: Security

- Planning the move from physical to virtual: Migration and Deployment

- Storage Virtualization: What, Why, Where and How?

- Virtualized Data Centers - Beyond the Virtual Sum of Virtual Parts

- Microsoft's New Virtualization Strategy

- One for all and all for Xen

Here is the official Virtualization Track site for the event.

I'll post updates along the way... keep your browser running so you don't have to warm it up again. 



Computer of the future

Posted by gwagnon Dec 12, 2007

I ran across this from ( and found it poignant.

Project out another 40 years… What is a 'server' or 'workstation' and how does it fit in the world of IT in the 2050's?

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