Global Innovators | Prasoon Kumar Sinha – Reinventing VMs

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Global Innovators | Prasoon Kumar Sinha | ChannelDrive.in

Innovation has become a big driving force for organizations and it can enable greater productivity and enhance customer value. And hence it is very important for organizations to keep on working with innovators who continously challenge the status quo, redefine processes and reinvent products.

Prasoon Kumar Sinha is one such Global innovator who is working with Dell Technologies – a globally renowned leader in delivering innovations to its customers and partners.

Working as Distinguished Engineer with Dell Technologies – Prasoon Kumar Sinha has been working on an innovation which deals with estimating the amount of power that could be attributed to a Virtual Machine running on a physical server. He speaks with Zia Askari from ChannelDrive.in about the importance of innovation and how it can bring positive change for customers.

Professional Profile – Reinventing Productivity for VMs

How do you define innovation today and why do you think it is important for an organization of your nature?

In my view, innovation is about partnering with customers on their journey to the future. Under this model, innovation occurs at all levels and functions of the organization – including discovery and identification of new problem domains, better ways of solving problems, efficient implementation, and delivery. Most importantly, such innovation finds its way to solving real-world problems in real-world scenarios – which makes the innovation even more exciting.

I am part of the Server and Infrastructure Systems organization at Dell Technologies, dealing with Systems Management Consoles for Dell Servers in the data center. Our ecosystems are changing at a very rapid pace, with computing paradigm changes dealing with Edge Computing, High-Performance Computing, adoption of AI/ML technologies to name a few. In this context, our organization must stay at top of these changes, thereby helping our customers navigate through their adoption of the technology. This simply cannot happen without the innovation I described above.

Please share details of your innovation that you are driving or have been an integral part with?

One recent innovation I have been driving in our products deals with estimating the amount of power that could be attributed to a Virtual Machine running on a physical server. There have been a lot of research/academic papers on this topic (invention), but very few translated into something that is practical and can be leveraged by end customers (Innovation). Our team has been the first to provide this technology to customers.

Why is this innovation important for your organization and your end customers?

This innovation is most relevant to customers that run multiple Virtual Machines on a single host and want to have some form of “metering” for the resources consumes. Colocation data centers, and traditional Enterprise datacenters running group/division associated Virtual Machines find this innovation most useful since it allows them to allocate a representative consumption metric to the Virtual Machine, thereby enabling appropriate “chargebacks” to host clients. In the absence of this innovation, consumption was equally divided between executing Virtual Machines irrespective of the actual usage.

From an organization perspective, this innovation establishes us as “Thought Leaders” in the industry and amongst our customers. This innovation is a reflection of our understanding and solving real problems faced by our customers. They are therefore more than willing to engage with us in their journey into the future. It also enables us to build additional value-adds on top of the foundational capabilities enabled by this innovation.

How did you conceive the idea for this innovation? (You can mention names of the people, your inspiration etc that may have helped you define the innovation)

This innovation was the result of sustained and close collaboration between our Product Owner (Lori Matthews), and several customers that were running into this challenge. At the same time, we were closely engaged with the Intel Datacenter Manager SDK team in defining power management strategies for Dell Servers. The idea of driving this innovation came out of drawing parallels between the physical, the virtual computing world, and precisely defining what was required to solve the challenges our customers were facing.

Please share details of some of the big or small difficulties / challenges that you faced while carving out this innovation for your company?

One of the biggest challenges carving out this innovation was to manage the trade-off between a perfect solution and a practical one. While there is a myriad of hardware parameters that could be utilized to compute the most accurate power allocation for a Virtual Machine, the challenge was to identify which one of those was the most useful from a consumption perspective – and could provide reasonable results within specified time limits.

Another challenge dealt with identifying the right computational algorithms to accommodate the variety of workloads while computing the consumed power. This was a very iterative process with lots of experimentation and research on the topic. Again, the focus was to provide a metric that could be utilized to proportionately divide power consumed by a physical server amongst the Virtual Machines, within the acceptable ranges.

From a collaboration perspective, this innovation involved several customers, teams within our Organization and the Intel Datacenter Manager SDK team. Aligning every player in defining the “what” and the “how” of the innovation is never an easy task.

What does the future hold for this innovation now? How relevant will this innovation be in the coming years? Please share the roadmap for this innovation?

There is a lot that can be and is being built on top of this innovation. We could keep enhancing the accuracy of the computed consumption values – but beyond a certain point, there is not as much value from a practical perspective. What is more interesting is the kinds of problems we could solve building over this innovation.

We have several innovative ideas in the areas of chargebacks/billing based on resource utilization, more efficient workload placement, budgeting VM resources, etc. that are in different stages of incubation. I believe this innovation will be relevant and continue to form the base of future innovative solutions for quite some time to come.

Share details of some of the technologies / solutions where you are working on now and from where future innovation is likely to emerge?

I am currently exploring power management in the context of Edge and High-Performance Computing environments. These environments typically have not paid much attention to the consumption of power by the underlying infrastructure. How we could optimize and therefore save the environment from excessive power draw is an area that everyone is interested in, and I am sure there are significant innovation opportunities in this domain. Also, the implications of power budgeting in the context of software-defined infrastructure is another interesting area that I am looking at.

Personal Profile – Simplicity in Innovating Ideas

Share details about your family? 

We are a family of four. My wife is a doctor. We have a son, who is in higher secondary school, and a daughter who is in high school. I also have my parents and my sister living close by. My father worked at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram.

In what way do you think your family helps you in terms of ideating well?

The biggest support I get from my family is the time I can devote to the ideation process. We like to keep things simple, and in a lot of ways, it reflects in my approach to innovating ideas. The kids are ever inquisitive and keep questioning the most fundamental of assumptions. That builds the level of patience much required to follow through the process of innovation from the ideation stage to eventual productization.

Creating innovation is not that easy – one has to look beyond the horizon, so what are some of the books or tools to innovations that have helped you personally on thinking aloud on innovation?

Luckily, we have easy access to information in today’s world. Some of the most useful resources I use to keep myself engaged with Technology include technical journals, blogs, conference proceedings etc.

I also like to play with Technology, hands-on. Experimenting with technology hands-on provides a lot of insights into potential innovation areas that I then translate into our domain.

Personally what is your way to process innovation so that it can see light of the day? For instance some people take down notes, use customer feedback etc.

I like to experiment, understand and then evaluate its applicability to technology. Most often, taking an Innovation through to productization involves working with multiple teams refining and defining the idea to resonate with the actual problem being solved.

This is often a very exciting phase, because there is a lot of constructive feedback and discussion that happens through the process, and this really questions the value of the innovation. I also believe in having broad-based customer and peer discussions once we have an innovative idea crystallized to the extent that can be discussed. This allows either increasing the value of the innovation significantly very fast or otherwise fail early if the idea is not worth it.

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