Dell EMC looks to mainstream machine and deep learning with upcoming bundles

Three new Dell EMC Ready bundles around machine learning and deep learning should both broaden the HPC market, and make it more channel-friendly.

Ed Turkel, HPC Strategist at Dell EMC

Dell EMC has announced that it will be supplementing its existing Dell EMC Ready solutions with new ones, which for the first time, are focused around machine learning and deep learning solutions. The company expects they will broaden the market for these types of solutions somewhat, and also expand what has been a fairly limited number of partners who have worked in these areas. This will all take a while to unfold, however, as the bundles are not scheduled to be available until some time in the first half of 2018.

“What we announced was a new strategy and new emphasis on AI and machine and deep learning,” said Ed Turkel, HPC Strategist at Dell EMC. “We have seen increased interest in it in the last few years, coming after multiple years of convergence of HPC and Big Data. The Dell EMC solutions organization is focused on this area. We’ve been looking at how we leverage HPC and Big Data capabilities, With the emergence of machine and deep learning technologies from partners like Intel and NVIDIA, we really feel it’s a unique opportunity to help move that market forward.”

Turkel said that the packaged Dell EMC Ready bundles around machine learning and deep learning can play an important role in driving those markets.

“We already have a lot of customers working in this area, applying machine and deep learning into their HPC scientific research,” he indicated. “It’s an explosive new area. But because it is so new, there are many different areas of approaching it. We are building on the Dell EMC Ready solutions approach to create some standard solutions.”

Turkel acknowledged that HPC has always been a nichey play, but that applying these new technologies to it will broaden it out.

“HPC really started with big government labs and many still have that image of it, a niche targeted at the simulation and modelling world, in areas like automotive, pharma, and oil and gas,” he said. “It is now becoming more mainstream for enterprise, in areas like financial services, and digital content creation, with new workloads becoming more data centric. For example, in life sciences, HPC used to be about simulating molecules, and now is increasingly around genomics and personalized medicine. We are also seeing it used in non-traditional workloads like fraud detection for eCommerce sites. Anywhere where there is a transaction process today is all HPC and Big Data.”

This process is also seeing HPC being used further down the food chain.

“We have been working to move HPC to industrial customers who haven’t had the size to use it before,” Turkel said. “All the automotive companies have HPC. But they all have many, many parts suppliers – who may or may not be using it very much. They are likely using CAD tools, but the types of problems they deal with get harder to solve effectively when they get bigger. It’s these broader markets who are the real target of the new bundles.”

A hardware piece – the new Dell EMC PowerEdge C4140 server – is part of the announcement, and indeed, will be the first part available, with a release date of December 2017.

“The PowerEdge C4140 is a very dense 1U server, ideally suited for machine and deep learning applications,” Turkel said. It is powered by two new Intel Xeon Scalable processors and four NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPU accelerators with PCIe and NVLink high-speed interconnect technology.

The new bundles around machine learning and deep learning are a little more opaque at this point. They were announced at the SC17 event last week, and Turkel referred to them more as a “pre-announcement” because they are still far from release.

“There are three new bundles specifically around machine learning and deep learning,” he stated. “We already have a Dell EMC Ready bundle for HPC – we announced the 2.0 version at the event – but the machine and deep learning ones are entirely new.”

Each of the new bundles is in a different phase of development.

“A Machine Learning Ready bundle for Hadoop is the closest,” Turkel said. “It is basically machine learning on top of Hadoop, and takes advantage of work we have been doing with Cloudera. It will be the first to be released.”

The other two bundles are Deep Learning focused.

“They are further out,” Turkel indicated. “One is focused on Intel and one on NVIDIA. We have some general ideas, but they are still evolving. The NVIDIA one will use the new C4140 server that we just announced.”

Partners have played a role in Dell EMC’s HPC strategy before now, but it has been relatively limited, as has the number of partners in the space. These bundles should change that, Turkel said.

“The key for partners is how these bundles democratize HPC and AI,” he stressed. “It really is all about how the bundles will bring the technology to new customers for whom this would have been too complex to approach. The bundles are a much more channel-ready offering as well, being more packaged and a more complete solution.

“The HPC channel until now has been very select,” Turkel added. “This should broaden the number of partners who can promote these solutions and allow them to focus on the end user’s problems, rather than on what goes into the solution.”