Dell Technologies Capitalising On Analytics And AI


As a global technology company with approximately 165,000 employees, Dell Technologies generates an enormous amount of data on a daily basis. To help the company and its customers gain value from this data deluge, the Dell IT organisation manages a massive data lake and a world-class set of tools for data analytics, machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence.

At the heart of this data, the environment is a Greenplum Database, a parallel data platform for structured data analytics, machine learning and AI. This leading-edge platform allows the Dell IT organisation and users from around the world to rapidly create and deploy models for complex applications — from sales and marketing to predictive maintenance, cybersecurity and more.

This same data environment also includes an Apache Hadoop platform from Cloudera. The Cloudera distribution of Hadoop enables the Dell IT organisation to store and process enormous amounts of unstructured and semi-structured data from a wide variety of sources. In a typical use case, this raw data gets parsed in Hadoop into a structured format, and then that structured data gets pumped into the Greenplum database, so business and IT users can consume it in analytics applications.

Diverse Use Cases

The use cases for the Dell IT analytics database are all over the map — literally. The data is used by Dell Technologies employees and customers in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other geographic regions, according to Darryl Smith, chief data platform architect and distinguished engineer at Dell Technologies.

‘Marketing is one of our biggest customers’, Smith says. ‘They have about 460 terabytes of their own data within the database. And in this case, IT is working in conjunction with marketing — we do some of the work and they do some of the work. But most of the analytics itself is developed from the marketing business unit.’

In one such initiative, the marketing team worked with IT to develop an analytics solution that uses predictive modelling to help the sales team leverage customer data to offer the right products and the best experiences to individual customers — all at the right time. This solution, known as the Customer Engagement Platform (CEP), supports direct mail and email campaigns, as well as customer calls from sales reps.

Another big user of the system is the Dell Technologies Digital Supply Chain organisation. It runs data analytics focused on making the company’s supply chain as efficient as possible by tracking quality defects, monitoring vendor parts availability and more.

‘We’ve also got customer-facing apps that have analytics running in our Greenplum database’, Smith says. These include a customer support application called MyService360 and the Dell EMC CloudIQ monitoring solution.

‘We’ve got probably 100 or more different analytical apps that are running currently in the data lake and on our Greenplum platform’, Smith says.

Amazing Results

The Dell IT data lake is continually evolving, in terms of technology, performance and capacity. With recent upgrades, the environment is now fully running Dell EMC PowerEdge servers with NVMe drives. Each of the NVMe drives is capable of 2 gigabytes-per-second throughput — which is more than twice as fast as SSD drives and roughly 10 times faster than spinning disk.

Also Read: Scientists Create Emojify To Show The Risks Of AI Emotion Recognition

‘Our database is currently performing at a rate of a terabyte per second of I/O’, Smith says. ‘This year, we will add another 72 PowerEdge servers, and then we will be running at roughly 2.4 terabytes per second of I/O with a 2.5 petabyte database.’

With its rich mix of technologies, the data lake environment delivers some amazing results. An analytics query on a 7-billion-row table might come back in 7 seconds or less, while 98 per cent of the queries on the Greenplum database come back in less than a second.

‘And we typically run at least 6 million queries per day, so it is a pretty busy database’, Smith says.

While the performance numbers are stunning, they don’t begin to tell the full story of the business impact of the VMware Tanzu Greenplum analytics environment. The use of powerful analytics is helping Dell Technologies achieve better customer service, improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs, increase operational efficiency and enhance security, Smith says.

‘It doesn’t matter what you want to get out of it — you can achieve any one of those business goals with the right data analytics and artificial intelligence tools’, Smith says.

(With Inputs From Agencies)