Today was the first day of the main event at Dell Storage Forum 2012 in London, the day started off with Darren Thomas (Vice President and General Manager Dell Storage) on stage for the keynote.
Darren Thomas (Vice President and General Manager Dell Storage) spoke about Dell’s products today and their vision which are all part of Dell’s Fluid by Design phrase, the slide below explains some of what Fluid by Design means to Dell. Darren talked about there being a 4 X difference between the different types of drives available today with Cost vs Performance vs Capacity and utilising automatic tiering is key to being smarter with your storage. Darren spoke about the long term goal would be to allow customers to choose which parts of the Dell stack they want where and that they are investigating whether being able to replicate from an EqualLogic at a branch office to a Compellent in a head office for example would make technical and financial sense.
A key part of Dell’s strategy includes storage for backup which brought us nicely to some of Dell’s announcements for today, The first announcement was the new Dell DR4000 a NFS based de-duplicated backup to disk device, with hardware based on the Dell R710 and intelligence from the Ocarina acquisition Dell are offering functionality today alongside Comvault and Symantec, their will be 3 versions of the device with 40TB, 81TB or 135TB effective storage capacities after reduplication.
One of the biggest announcement was probably Compellet storage centre 6, the major announcement was that release is now 64bit, setting the foundations for future enhancements with more memory support. Storage Center 6 has tighter integration with VMware, making it onto the VMware HCL with VAAI support, this update is field upgradable on Series 40 onwards SANs.
The VMware specific announcements were as follow (From the Press Release)
- Dell Compellent VMware vSphere™ Storage APIs for Array Integration offers full copy offload and hardware-assisted locking features that extend Compellent’s existing support for block zeroing. These features speed deployment of virtual machines up to 40 percent faster*, free up network and hosting resources and improve storage performance for data volumes shared by multiple virtual machines.
- Dell Compellent Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) for Site Recovery Manager 5 is available for download with support for new SRM 5 features such as automated failback from a disaster and new work flows for planned migration and downtime. Dell Compellent continues its OEM relationship with VMware for SRM 5, allowing all disaster recovery hardware and software support to be provided by the Dell Compellent Copilot support organisation.
- Dell Compellent vSphere 5 Client Plug-In and Enterprise Manager-vSphere 5 Integration allows VMware software users to efficiently manage Compellent virtualized pools of storage resources from either the VMware vSphere 5 or Compellent Enterprise Manager console, giving the ability to reduce administration time.
The third announcement was a new Sharepoint Infrastructure Optimisation Solution featuring the DX range of storage.
The final announcements were around Expanded Support for Dell Force10, Dell PowerConnect and Brocade Storage Networking Solutions. Darren Thomas was followed on stage by Dell Compellents Phil Soran. Phil talked around Dell adoption of Co-Pilot setting it as the foundation for Dell support and reiterating the strong position Dell are now in with their storage division after acquiring 2 of the strongest players in the market with EqualLogic and Compellent.
Altogether it was a good keynote, there weren’t any really ground breaking announcements but what was discussed and announced was a good strong positive message. I was lucky enough to be part of the bloggers briefing last night, we were joined in the bloggers briefing with Travis Vigil Executive Director Product Management EqualLogic, Pete Korce General Manager (EqualLogic and Exanet), Bob Fine Director Product Marketing Compellent, Neil Stobart Compellent Technical Director Europe (Currently migrating into a new role). We got to sit down and discuss these announcements and Dell’s vision moving forward, the message is there is a lot more integration moving forward not only between products but in the ways the departments in Dell interact with each other to share the intelligence and vision.
My day continued by attending a couple of sessions the first was the Top 10 support issues and how to resolve them session with Darren Miller and @jeff_junker, this was useful session covering the 10 most common support issues, but we also had some time to ask our own questions and their was some good feedback. Laz Vekiarides executive director of software engineering for EqualLogic joined us in this session and was also able to offer some of his insights.
After the session I went and sat a hands on lab one of two I sat today, my first was the Dell Compellent Storage Hands on Lab, this covered the basics of creating a volume, configuring snapshoting (Replays) and recovering data from a snapshot (Replay), it was good to refresh my mind on these basic as I haven’t had a chance to play with a Compellent recently.
My second lab of the day was the EqualLogic SAN HQ Troubleshooting Examples lab, this was a really insightful lab showing what to look out for in SAN HQ when troubleshooting issues. This made me think how much I would like to see Powershell integration with SAN HQ as it would be really cool to write some scripts to query this data for automated health checks.
The rest of my day was spent catching up with people I have known for a while from Dell, Ex Dell and others in the industry and also meeting new and interesting people. What I have found most valuable from the conference so far is how open and willing the Dell Execs are to sit and chat, Laz Vekiarides (Executive Director of Software Engineering for EqualLogic) sat in the blogger lounge for well over an hour, chatting to us about anything and everything, there are not many other conferences or opportunities to have that kind of access to the execs. Tonight we are off to the tower of london for the Fluid Foundation Celebration watch out for some photos later.
At first I thought Dell was just one of those minor competitors for big names in the computer world, but having read this article makes me realize that Dell has lots to offer.