One Stack, Two Stack, Three Stack, Four: A CTO’s Evolution to the Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite

Chris Gaudlip By Chris Gaudlip CTO, Dell Technologies Managed Services March 30, 2015

The recent passing of Leonard Nimoy, a great inspiration to many, motivated me to write this.  What his simple television character inspired within me can be applied to the industry transformation we are living right now.  As people know me, they might argue that I tend to live in a role on the edge of the Universe.  Some of us may only venture safely into the daily routine of just doing what we have always done, knowing most of the answers, while never leaving the confines of Mother Earth.  Others are on this journey; borrowing the famous Star Trek Opening, “exploring new worlds and boldly going where no one has gone before”.  My day job consists of exploring these new worlds, but calculating when we are close to venturing into the neutral zone and risking the well-being of our customers.

This leads me to my new term: The Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite.  What is this you ask?  We have long talked about the Well-Run Hybrid Cloud with the combination of on-premise and off-premise cloud infrastructures.  Coordinating them into a customer environment is what we specialize in because that is the definition of “Well-Run”.  Simply put, using the best of both worlds to deliver the Universe computing environment.

Enter the new world and one could argue the relatively uncharted black hole of Open Stack.  Of course many businesses (and large ones at that) run their IT on Open Stack from Operating Systems, to orchestration, to any number of capabilities.  However, I would argue these are a smaller percentage of the space time continuum.  The vast majority are still using platform two methodologies or a marketed software suite.  If you think back, the demise of brick and mortar businesses were just a few light years away.  This did not happen; we built the best of both worlds.  Brick and mortar became more efficient, the rigid failed, and the nimble flourished.  We have the same situation with Open Stack.  It will never be the demise of the brick and mortar infrastructure and software suites.  However, it will drive innovation in this space, and the rigid will not survive.  Open Stack will also evolve.  Enter my recommendation to what we are building at EMC, the Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite.

Take the Starship Enterprise, for example.  Its ability to survive, fight the foes, and explore new worlds was its ability to work as a Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite of capabilities.  It was communications, weapons, health, engineering, and Spock’s ability to gather and apply logic that continually saved the ship.  Think of the Starship Enterprise as a Converged Infrastructure and the new Hyper Converged Infrastructures as the Shuttle Craft.  All of their systems are the hardware and software working in unison as a complete solution, and the crew as the Services that apply their methodology and expertise to any situation that arises.

Let’s break this down.  Within EMC Managed Services we break down our capabilities to a Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite into 8 ‘planets’ in what I call the ‘United Federation of Planets’.  These comprise the following as depicted in this diagram:

CG Federation of Planetes Graphic

Let’s take these one at a time.

  1. SLA’s. This can also be called “mutually agreed upon contractual flexibilities”.  We do not follow traditional outsourcing contract methodology.  The industry is evolving; our customers want a respectful relationship and one where a vendor does not ‘stand behind a contract’ but stands with them.  We stand with our customers with what we build and how we maintain it for the ultimate expectations of our customers.  We believe our partner approach is unique.
  2. Process.  Process can also be called “predictable, measurable, and accountable”.  Our processes are constantly evolving to take advantage of technical innovation as well as innovation in methods and thinking.  Process integration is where our technicians become a part of our customer’s staff.  We pride ourselves with this integration methodology as an extension to mutual benefits of our customers.
  3. Transition. As with any people, process and technology integration there must be a transition to the service.  Our proprietary approach to understanding our customers’ requirements, creating the as-is and the to-be environments with mutual agreements allows the service to be seamless and not a traditional ‘cut over’ approach.
  4. Competency. Competency is our continuous evolution of services.  This is the area where best practices are created and then modified into a consumable product to enhance traditional services or to enable new and creative ones.
  5. Consumption. This support area handles traditional capacity planning, demand management, and financial governance processes.  However, a unique approach, and a paradigm shift to traditional up-sells of our competition, we actually work to be transparent in our customer’s consumption of resources.  How to become more efficient with the consumption of people, technical assets and other resources is a charter of this team.  We believe if we can make our customers more efficient, they will understand our partnership approach methodology.
  6. Operations. The heart of our operation is our people.  Technology must be maintained and nurtured to be effective in our customer environments.  I often taught that everyone is the same service provider when everything is running smoothly.  You discover your true friends, partners, and cherished service providers when external events cause problematic situations.  EMC has a long standing tradition to stand side-by-side with our customers for resolution of any problem.  The expertise housed within this division is second to none. One item to note under the traditional operations moniker is the unique approach to automation and orchestration I am witnessing within our labs.  Traditional automation of fault resolution and workload movement because of an equipment failure is the default standard.  However, our teams are taking it to the next level and automating based on service level, workload importance, business requirements and meta data.  I call the effort BAMI for ‘Business Automation w/Meaning and Impact’.
  7. Transformation. Technology changes, business requirements change, evolution and consumer requirements change.  And if one thing is for certain, it’s that change happens.  Whether it is converting to a converged infrastructure, re-platforming an application, or managing an entire data center refurbishment.  This expertise is housed here.
  8. Vtiers. This is our proprietary methodology matching business requirements to technology capabilities in what we call a Vtier methodology.  This is not simply a performance tiering, but a combination of business requirements, financial flexibility, and service level objectives married in unique ways to enable fluid and dynamic consumption of business requirements.  It is delivered via our service methodologies and implemented via our technology.

As you can see, EMC Managed Services has become a Star Ship provider of capabilities, working as a trusted enabler of our customers on behalf of the entire Federation of companies and our partners.  We have worked tirelessly to modularize our capabilities, provide innovation in each of the areas, and enable our customers to realize those benefits.  Are we a technology?  Not at all.  We are a methodology of a Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite of services and capabilities.

In the words of Leonard Nimoy, we wish all of our customers to “live long and prosper”!   

Chris Gaudlip

About Chris Gaudlip

CTO, Dell Technologies Managed Services

As chief technology officer (CTO) for Dell Technologies Managed Services, Chris Gaudlip provides visionary leadership for Dell Technologies Managed Services customers.

Chris brings 25 years of experience at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Perot Systems to his role at Dell Technologies. His accomplishments include pioneering Dell EMC Proven Certifications, filing multiple pending and approved patents for his innovations, and designing solutions for Fortune 500 customers. He was recognized for his achievements by being selected as an Dell EMC Distinguished Engineer – Lead Technologist in 2011.

In his current role, Chris is actively involved in Dell Technologies sales efforts, technical validations, and directing the future endeavors of Managed Services. He is the customer liaison and advisory consultant for the Managed Services offerings. Dell Technologies' customers look to him as a trusted advisor.

When not traveling or reading up on the latest technologies, he can be found at his favorite hunting and fishing spots.

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14 thoughts on “One Stack, Two Stack, Three Stack, Four: A CTO’s Evolution to the Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite

  1. Great write up and expressions of our services and plans for the future. Look forward to reading more of your insights and analogies.

    • Thank you Cynthia.

      As I mentioned in another reply, I am planning on additional deeper dives into our methodologies later this year.


  2. Solid Composition Chris. Thanks.

    I think, the key word is “WELL-RUN” and that what we @ MS strive every day. United Federations of Planets; a well thought statement and plot of each planet.

    In Hybrid cloud, one of the challenge that Hybrid cloud Product & Service Providers face is to bring change the mindset of customers to use the cloud service as it is. Lets call it “Cloud as a Cloud” for now. Customers do aim/expect to replicate their existing environment to Cloud to with all customizations that is currently existing in their 2nd Generation technology (Asset management should connect to existing CMDB database, Tenants Patching to fit existing process etc.,). A product suite that addresses this expectation is a deal craker, I feel.

    Thanks again Chris. Worth a read and apt food for thought.

    • Thank you Praveen.

      As you mention, there are some customers who have embraced change, and others taking a wait and see approach. Both can be argued as correct. The key is to be at least educating ourselves and exploring what items (such as asset management etc.) should be taken forward, modified or simply retired as a platform two item.

      Its a great time in our industry to do some housekeeping and inventory audits to prepare for the future.


  3. Nicely done, Chris…and like you new term ‘Well Run Hybrid Suite’…I believe the reason EMC adjusted their GTM strategy from a 3.0 platform to a 2.5 platform is to account for the co-existence of 2nd and 3rd platform infrastructure and solutions. From a MS perspective we should strive to adapt to this hybrid model and define our organization and capabilities to account for this…

    Well written and let’s go to places where we can then say ‘beam me up, Scotty!!’

    • Thank you Mahesh.

      As I have mentioned, MS has been on this journey for several years. We have simply moved it from a pilot or proof of concept stage in 2013 to a formal approach in 2014/15 and beyond. We are not taking a step approach but a gradual incline of approach. Services do not have eureka moments as much as they have milestones and achievements.

      I describe platform 2.5 as the evolution and modernization of platform 2 approaches and technology. Platform 3 is a net new approach. Both are alive and well and will be around for a long duration.

      I predict in a few years we wont call them platforms any longer, they will simply be the way it is.


  4. Chris – Greatly articulated, our capabilities to a Well-Run Modular Hybrid Suite into 8 ‘planets’ in what everyone will really look for !

    Looking forward to have more insights…

    Very Best
    MURALE Narayanan

    • Thank you Mirale.

      I truly believe ‘Systems’ whether a house or a car or technology are a combination of the various systems working together to a common goal. Whether electricity, plumbing in a house or the engine, transmission and steering working together in a car, they all share a common goal of usability.

      Our planet of services, although expertise’s in their own domains, bring together capabilities to a common goal.

      You cannot be successful with more of one than another or the elimination of any. They all play their part to success.


  5. Hi Chris,
    Nice comparison for those of us who are both EMC employees and Star Trek fans!

    It’s also great being in on the well-run hybrid cloud early and establish a leading Position, because, as we know….we might soon have Trouble with Tribbles (…competitive offerings).

    • Thank you John.

      Yes, it is a comfort knowing we are leading the way.

      I almost added that there are probably some ‘red shirt’ competitors out there already.


  6. Chris – Great thought process and it was also pleasure to meet you in-person during India COE visit along with Jason McGregor.
    This kind of thought process gives us a capabilities to think and transform the legacy galaxy of IT to a Modular Hybrid Suite.
    It’s been a big year for us. Tons of improvements, new product launches, great milestones with partners and lots and lots customer momentum. We are humbled by your support and want to continue to deliver great service and solutions that helps our customer to work the way they like and love to work.

    • Thank you Amal,

      The pleasure was all mine and I will be returning soon. As you state, the changes within EMC and the industry is unprecedented.

      As you mention the products are evolving at a rapid pace, however, I was extremely impressed at our services capabilities. As I visit the various sites it is reassuring to me and to our customers that our services often outpace that innovation.

      Well done to yourself and everyone who put the methodology into our technology.