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This morning was the first customer facing keynote and we saw a number of announcements.


Darren Thomas VP and GM for Dell Storage presented on talking about Dell’s journey, key business values, goals and new product announcements. 


For Dell Compellent we saw the announcement of Storage Center 6.3 offering boosts in performance up to 100% just through a software update! They also announced they would be the first array with 16Gb FC end to end support. These features come with a number of improvements and enhancements that have came since the first 64bit version of Storage Center 6.0 that was announced during the Storage Forum in London earlier in the year.

Bob Fine expanded on the announcement during the press and bloggers session going on to explain how the updates would be available for free to customers with existing support, without having downtime or rip and replace. How many other vendors are able to offer these kind of enhancements within the same units with just a software update? 

The Compellent solution is expanding and growing into Dells greater fluid vision with the FS8600 NAS. One of my key goals for the next 12 months is to come a lot more familiar with Compellent. To be it sounds a really exciting technology and I look forward to learning more about 6.3. 


For the MD and Data Protection lines we saw version 3 of the firmware introduced offering iSCSI based replication, thin provisioning, VMware VAAI support and SSD based caching. With all these features within the MD range it is making it much more than a my first SAN solution offering many of the key features and more of its competing products and even able to start punching against its weight at a cheaper price point. 


We also saw a wealth of releases from the data proaction product line with the AppAssure DL4000 backup appliance, the CommVault DL2300 and Quest NetVault Backup 9.0. I am a little confused as it stands where the place is within Dell for so many backup products. We will see how that matures and the different divisions start working together. Certainly from what I have seen from the user interface of the Quest NetVault Backup 9.0 product looks very nice and easy to use but I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings. 

There weren’t any announcements regarding the EqualLogic range but Pete Korce talked about the intention of looking at how EqualLogic could be utilised within the host with JBODs. For me this is really excited particularly for VDI workloads utilising SSDs or for branch offices. I look forward to learning more about this throughout the conference and as it is further developed. 


I am looking forward to attending the rest of the conference now, sitting some hands on labs and learning about some of the new technologies and announcements. 

Today I have taken part in the Dell Storage Fluid Forward Think Tank, quite a mouth full! This gave me and a number of others (Partners, Customers and Dell Employees) to a chance to discuss the storage and IT industry in detail and understand the challenges we are facing and help define where we think it is going. 

I was joined by (from the Dell site –

and the session was moderated and kept moving by Simon Robinson – Research Vice President at 451 Research. I

It was a really interesting session for me to hear everyones opinions, problems they are facing be it technical or political within their organisations. We covered everything from SSD, hybrid storage, tiering, local storage, de-duplication, protocols, Dell strategy and more. 

We also had an artist on hand graphically illustrating our conversation!


The discussion was fed live online and is also available for you too watch or at least flick through here >>

I also took a number of photos which can be found on my Flickr page here >>

But here are a few from the day. 


This evening is a partner reception and #storagebeers, I will be attending a partner meal but may make it to #storagebeers a bit later. 

Today I traveled to Paris for the Dell Storage Forum, after a very early flight I had a chance to wander around Paris before the Partner reception. I headed towards Notre Dame then to be honest I don’t know where I ended up so if you recognise a location in one of my photos please comment and help me fill in where I have been :D.

All my photos throughout the event can be found here >>

This evening was spent at the partners reception chatting to the other bloggers and the Dell Social Media team, tomorrow we will be taking part in the Fluid Forward Think Tank for more information or to find out how to join in check out this article >>

Keep checking back I will be blogging all week from the event regarding whats going on and any announcements. 












Next week I shall be attending the Dell Storage Forum taking place at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center, Paris. This is the 2nd Storage Forum to take place in Europe after the London event in January.

Marriott Rive Gauche Exterior

For those who haven’t been to a storage forum before it offers Dells customers and Partners the chance to meet the Dell Storage Execs, hear about the product line and strategy, attend technical sessions to learn to get the most out of your environment and finally sit hands on labs for the Dell storage range.

If you will be attending the storage forum make sure you say hi, the storage forum offers a great opportunity to meet other users from across different industries, make contacts and discuss your use and love of the technology.  

Full details regarding the event can be found on the Dell Storage Forum website here >>

Also if you are in Paris on Wednesday or attending the forum be sure to join us for Storage Beers taking place just a short walk away from the conference at Havane Café  (Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, 75013 Paris, France)


I look forward to meeting you there and for those of you who wont be able to attend I will be blogging and taking lots of photos throughout the conference.

Thursday was the third and final day for the Dell Storage Forum 2012 in London, the morning kicked off bright and early with another keynote, this time Darren Thomas was joined on stage with Stephen Murdoch (VP and GM Large Enterprise, EMEA)


The Thursday keynote was more visionary and looking back at how IT runs today and what we need to be focusing on moving forward. There were some great statistics coming out of the presentation such as those below.

Between the birth of the world and 2003, there were 5 exabytes of information created. Now that much information is generated in just 3 days. Eric Schmidt


In just 60 seconds

  • 600+ New Videos are added to YouTube
  • 168 Million Emails are Sent
  • 1500+ New Blog Posts
  • 320+ New Twitter Accounts



Stephen went on to talk about the challenges facing IT departments today including, billions of always connected end points, the consumerisation of corporate IT and the explosion of, going on to say IT is struggling to cope with today’s demands without even focusing on what tomorrow will bring.



Stephen went on to explain some of the ideas and strategies that Dell have used to tackle their own IT, we should all be looking to remove complexity.

“Hiding mess is never a good solution we should be looking for the source”

I really liked the idea of Dell’s Idea Storm website that can be used to make suggestions for products and improvements to Dell, the IdeaStorm community can then vote on it and if popular enough and possible will be implemented by Dell.


Stephen went on to explain that IT departments should be looking into more than just the technology and focusing on the people and processes will help lead to success. The slide below gives an overview of where IT departments should be looking to concentrate today, empowering your end users, running IT more efficiently by shifting from maintaining to innovation and effectively managing your organisation by achieving strategic goals.


Stephen went on to explain how Dell is helping and guiding us with our IT missions in 2012 and onwards, first of all became Dell’s point of view on storage. By now we all know about Fluid by Design, but it is clear that this isn’t only want Dell Storage are doing today but what they are focusing their future on. We need to remove the boundaries from the storage and allow it to be ever flexible around the growing needs of storage for the IT industry.


The final slide made recommendations for the IT industry

  • Standardise
  • Optimise
  • Focus on projects with high business value
  • Spend on IT, but spend wisely
  • Ensure IT is tightly aligned with business strategy

We moved on to a Q&A session from the audience


Finally summing up with a video recorded at the London Storage Forum, with many people in the audience appearing in, including fellow bloggers Hans and Bruno describing what Fluid means to them.



After the keynote, I joined an NDA session (Cant say anything about that!) and sat the Dell DX object storage Hands on Lab, this helped understand how it was administered but not really how it would be used by a business for me. I also sat the Compellent / vSphere integration hands on lab that was very good and gave me a good overview of the functionality available for VMware administrators when using Compellent.


Below is a photo of some of the hardware supporting the conference.


During lunch the solutions hall was open again, giving some of Dell’s partners the opportunity to speak to Dell’s customers and partners about their offerings. During lunch Emulex gave a talk on DCB which was hard work for the poor guy on stage, with everyone eating lunch and talking he managed to get their attention by throwing model aeroplanes at them! I found the contents of the presentation really interesting as DCB is something I wish to learn more about and we will be connecting with Emulex to find out more in the near future.



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My final task of the day was to record some interviews for the podcast (Yes the website is still down, never user for your hosting, it should be online with a new host soon!) I interviewed Hans De Leenheer fellow blogger regarding his thoughts about the conference, Nick Dyer of Xsigo regarding their product, Andrew Lawrence of Commvault regarding their product and maybe most excitingly Brett Roscoe (General Manager and Executive Director, PowerVault & Data Management Solution) regarding the announcement regarding the DR4000 and about object storage. I’m hoping to get these interview edited asap and online as soon as I can.


The picture above is taken in the solutions hall with Commvault’s Andrew Lawrence talking to a crowd of attendees. I have known Andrew for a number of years and he actually introduced me to EqualLogic as my first EqualLogic SE.


Conslusions regarding the conference

It’s been a busy few days and a lot of information has been packed into those days, for me the standout element to take away from this event was the access to the executives at Dell, I have never attended a conference before where the executives were wandering around during the day and parties in the evening, willing to talk to anyone that was attending. I feel by being able to speak to these people I have learnt things I would never be able to learn any other way and I felt that my opinions and ideas may get taken away back to the states and in some small way maybe able to influence something Dell is working on.

The sessions covered a great amount of content and I hope they are available online after the event for me to review as I didn’t manage to attend as many as I would like. Maybe in the future their maybe an opportunity for community members and regional Dell employees to submit sessions as it would be good to hear a content from a wider audience.

The Hands on Labs were good, they we no where near as busy as the VMworld hands on labs and I would love to have some deeper content in the hands on labs in the future, configuring and replicating a Compellent maybe, command line, using Powershell etc, although I understand these maybe not easy to put together with the nature of the products. I would love to see EqualLogic and Compellent VSA’s be made available to the community for these kind of deeper dive subjects, not only would they help educate a wider community about Dell’s products like EMC do with their VSA but it would help Dell get the word out about their products.

I found the conference extremely useful overall and I am already looking forward to attending the next one.



Below are a selection of photos I took at the Dell Storage Forum 2012 – Fluid Foundation Celebration the event took place in the Tower of London and it was a magnificent location. All the photos can be viewed on my Flickr account here >>
















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.

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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 , 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.

Today was my first day at Dell Storage Forum, today was focused at Dell Partners and not the general public unless you were lucky enough to be on one of the training courses that has been running over the last couple of days.

The Dell Storage Forum 2012 – London, is being held in the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, in the shadow of one of London’s the most magnificent monument St Paul’s Cathedral. The first thing that welcomes you when you enter the venue is the massive interactive display that is suspended from the ceiling, displaying the Dell Logo and Dell Storage Forum 2012 message in an animated fashion.



My day at the show started by talking to some of the UK channel press, they were keen to know my opinions of how Dell are doing with their channel model, as I work for a Dell partner. My experience has been a very positive one and particularly over the last 6 months we have started to see the whole of Dell embracing the channel and not only the dedicated channel teams we work with, lets hope this continues and progresses further as I think this is beneficial for Customers, Dell and their partners.

After the press interviews I was off to go and find the bloggers lounge and meet some of the bloggers. Dell have got together a good team of bloggers to cover the event and it was great to put some faces to names, there were a number of conversations throughout the day, some storage related and some not so storage related! it has been great to meet the other bloggers covering the event.

Gina from Dell has put together a list of the bloggers which can been seen below taken from here blog post here >>

Dell Blogger >> (Jason Boche, and Lance Boley), Community Bloggers Martin GlassborowChris EvansNigel PoultonBruno SousaHans Deleenheer,Barry CoombsGreg KnieriemanEd Saipetch, and Stephen Foskett.

My day continued with a couple of partner sessions, the first session was regarding migrating to a Compellent SAN from another vendors solutions, it was good to hear about these inbuilt capabilities, at present they are only supported for FC to FC migrations but it is hoped iSCSI will be supported in the future. Unfortunately there were connectivity problems that meant the demo couldn’t take place, this was disappointing as it would have really added to the content of the session. Hopefully these will be rectified for tomorrow. My next session was regarding working will Dell for Cloud Solutions, this was more of an overview session covering how Dell’s range could be used to assist with all elements of your journey to the cloud. This session really was just an overview and I will look forward to chatting with the presenter Mark Maclean from Dell UK more in the future regarding the subject, I have known Mark for a short while and he is very passionate about his job and Dell hardware and is a great asset to Dell.

After the sessions had finished I was given the opportunity to meet with the other bloggers and some Dell execs, the content of the discussions is under embargo until tomorrow so keep an eye on the blogs tomorrow for more details. What I can say about this discussion was that it took place at the top of the venue overlooking directly St Paul’s Cathedral, not many conference venues have views as good as this.



The evening activities were kicked off by a short bus ride to The Anchor Bankside pub for the Dell Fluid Data Welcome Reception, there was live bands, food and even a Will and Kate look alike. For me the best part was meeting a number of Dell employees past and present that I have worked with over the years. After the welcome reception a number of people went onto the #storagebeers at the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub in fleet street, I opted for a walk back to the hotel to grab my camera to grab some photos of my favourite area of London. The photos below are from my phones as my SLR batteries are charging, I will try and upload some better ones tomorrow.




All in today has been a good day considering the conference hasn’t even really started yet, there does seem to be a distinct lack of Dell UK employees particularly the Dell UK SE’s who I feel could add a lot to the event, Dell have a number of very good storage assists in the UK that haven’t been asked to attend.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about Dell’s storage vision, attending the Compellent hands on labs is a key goal for me as well as understanding more about the DX range of storage. I will be blogging about the event over the next two days and also be sure to keep an eye on my twitter account @virtualisedreal and the Dell Storage Forum hash tag #dellsf12





The Dell Storage Forum for the first time is coming to London and I will be attending, you may have heard me previously discuss the Dell Storage Forum which has been until now a US only affair. The Dell Storage Forum is the opportunity for Dell Storage customers to get together, get hands on experience in the labs with Dell’s Storage range, learn about what is on the roadmap and how to make the most out of the technology you may already have. Dell Storage Forum London will take place between 9th and 12th of January at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, full details can be found on their site >>


I will be heading down late on 10th too enjoy the main two days of the show, so I hope to meet some of you there, for those of you that are unable to make it I will be live blogging and hoping to record some interviews for the podcast.

Today is the first day of the Dell User Forum taking place in Miami Florida, unfortunately for me I’m not lucky enough to be at this one in person. But I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the bloggers briefing that took place prior to the event.

The first major announcements from today is the worldwide release of the Dell Storage SC4020, Dell bill this as them being able to offer high-end storage capabilities to mid-sized deployments. The SC4020 is an all in one SAN head and shelf, offering two controllers, running the Dell Storage Center 6.5 array software and 24 disks in a compact 2U form factor. The SC4020 is limited by scale to 120 disks but until that point should be able to keep up with its big brother the SC8000. Dell are also including its all flash technology with the SC4020 offering all flash configurations featuring SLC and MLC flash with tiering across both to suit the read and write workloads that each type of SSD favours.

Dell see the SC4020 being used in a number of use cases but particularly for mid sized customers that require more granular control over performance tuning than EqualLogic offers and it would also offer a great array for branch offices when the SC8000 is being used in HQ. I am going to be interested to see how it is priced to understand if the all flash configuration would be an affordable solution for VDI desktops and their workloads.

The Dell Storage SC4020 is planned for worldwide availability during Q3 2014

Dell Storage SC4000 Series


The second announcement and the biggest surprise for me was Dell’s announcement that they would be partnering with Nutanix to deliver the Dell XC Series of Web-Scale converged appliances. Read that as Dell and Nutanix partner to bring the Nutanix Software intelligence to Dell Hardware. I have been interested in the Nutanix proposition since their EMEA launch at BriForum 2012 and I think this is a great move for both companies. For Nutanix to get the name of one of the big players putting its name on a platform running its software is a massive vote of confidence for a start up and for Dell being able to offer its customers a forward thinking scalable platform. I’m really looking forward to the units being available working for a Dell partner this will give me even more reason to be talking and learning about the Nutanix platform.

The Dell XC Series is planned for worldwide availability during Q4 2014

Dell, Software-Defined Storage and Nutanix

Below you will see my doodles from the conference call with Bob Fine of Dell and Greg Smith of Nutanix.

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