This post is the first in a new regular series for the SourceForge blog called Take Five. In each installment of Take Five, I will set down with IT insiders and discuss the leading trends in today’s enterprise technology marketplace. In today’s inaugural post I talk about virtualization with Lee Burnette, Dell’s Social Media & Community Technologist at DellTechCenter.com.
Stephen Wellman (SW): Hello, Lee, welcome to Take Five. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Dell officials, in particular, Michael Dell, have been talking a lot about the ‘business of productivity.” What does that mean for today’s IT workforce?
Lee Burnette (LB): Right at three years ago when Dell began a transformation of how we do business, we set out on a new course to address our business customers needs in a way that solved the challenges they were encountering. This involved acquiring a number of companies including EqualLogic, Compellent, KACE, Scalent and a number of others. Business productivity was at the forefront of this transformation. We went from being hardware focused to solutions focused, and while this sounds clichÃ©, it is very real.
For the two years prior to my current role as a Social Media & Community Technologist for DellTechCenter.com, I was a Technical Sales Representative selling technical solutions in our Global Sales organization. I saw firsthand how this transformation was affecting how we helped our customers. For example, I had a large Fortune 100 customer in the northeast. They were trying to accomplish some specific business tasks and they were requesting a large number of servers. Instead of just taking the order and driving on, we asked them a number of questions about their business, what they were trying to accomplish and how this would affect their business. By taking this approach, we realized early on that selling them a bunch of servers wasn’t the best solution. We ended up selling them fewer servers by integrating virtualization into their environment and adding a number of EqualLogic storage arrays. This approach not only saved the customer money, but it exceeded their expectations in how much it improved the productivity of their business.
SW: What in your personal opinion are the top three technology trends shaping today’s enterprise IT workplace?
LB: I think the single biggest technology trend in the IT workplace revolves around virtualization, specifically server virtualization, virtualization around remote workforce enablement and client virtualization. The first area Dell has helped thousands of customers with is server virtualization. The ability to run many virtual servers on a single physical server has changed how IT administrators look at their environment. With server sprawl affecting most organizations, virtualization reduces the number of physical machines you have while at the same time making your IT infrastructure easier to manage.
Virtualization extends to the remote workforce as well. At Dell, we have transitioned over the past three years to a significant number of our employees working remote. There are many components involved that we have addressed including migrating to soft phones, secure access to the corporate network from remote locations, Client Virtualization including the use of Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and VMware View to name a few. Dell has invested heavily in a strategy that gives workers the ability to connect anywhere and anytime, with any device. This includes smart phones, tablets as well as PC’s. Having successfully done this as a company ourselves it allows us to help our customers accomplish the same success regardless of the size of their organization.
SW: What is the Dell Tech Center?
LB: DellTechCenter.com is a technical resource for IT professionals, specifically IT admins. We have content on our site that can’t be found anywhere else showing the tech community how to get the most out of the solutions that Dell offers. Our site includes demos, blogs, wikis, videos, forums and chats all of which are geared to show you everything from how to configure a switch with an EqualLogic array to how to install a Citrix Receiver on a Dell Streak 5 running Android to access your corporate apps. We have a team of 8 community technologists here in the U.S. as well as team members in China, Japan & Germany. Each one of us is tasked with developing content for our site specific to our specialty including virtualization, enterprise client, networking, storage, systems management and more. By consistently adding content to our site, we attract over 150,000 page views per month and have 8,000 registered users without even requiring registration to use our site.
SW. How can SourceForge users interact with the Dell Tech Center?
LB: To become a part of our technical community it’s pretty simple. Just go to www.DellTechCenter.com and register to become a user. While this not required it puts you on our email list and lets you know of upcoming events and chats. We have our Tech Tuesday chat every Tuesday at 3pm Central where we host specialists from the technical community both inside and outside of Dell. You can also just go to our website and check out the forum discussions, wiki pages videos and more. At the bottom of most pages you can add your comments about that page, ask a question or just start a discussion.
SW: What is the role open source technology plays in Dell’s solutions? Does Dell have an outreach to the broader open source community? If so, how can SourceForge readers work with Dell on open source projects?
LB: At Dell one philosophy that captures the essence of what we do is being open, affordable and capable. The “open” part of this means that we strive to make our solutions industry standard, not proprietary. We are all about fitting Dell into your environment even if you have multiple vendors represented already. By adopting open standards, we believe that is the best way for organizations to grow and thrive. DellTechCenter.com is a great way for the open source community to engage with Dell as well as the thousands of it professionals we engage with. If you have a script that you think is valuable to the community, we’d love to see it added to our site. We actively encourage our community to “give back” by adding their own code, commentary and expertise and look forward to seeing more of you from the open source community to join with us!
Take Five is a regular feature on the SourceForge blog. If you would like to be featured as a guest on Take Five you can reach Stephen Wellman by email at swellman at geek dot net or on Twitter @srwellman.