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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

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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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The Dell Enterprise Forum EMEA parties have traditionally been something a bit special with previous years taking the delegates to the Tower of London and on a Trip down the River Seine in Paris. This year maybe didn’t have quite the same wow factor but it is appreciated with the show growing putting on intimate parties like that would be increasingly difficult. The party this year was a German focused event that took place in The Squire near the event and the airport >> http://www.thesquaire.com/en/the_squaire/the_project

There was food, drink, live entertainment as well as a fantastic opportunity to socialise and meet new individuals. This is the important aspect for me and it was a pleasure to meet some fantastic people from Dell, discussing many aspects of Dell and anything and everything else.

Below are a selection of photos I took at the event.

 

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Yesterday was day 2 of the Dell Enterprise Forum EMEA in Frankfurt Germany, due to attending a number of NDA sessions there wasn’t so much tweeting and blogging from me but it was a very productive and insightful day. 

Every year what stands out to me at these events is not just the content and labs, but the access to the execs and great technical people at Dell, speaking as a Dell Partner and a previous Customer the opportunity you get at these events is really unrivalled. It really does show you the levels of effort and skill that are behind the scenes, which by the time it reaches the partners and customers I feel is some times masked. 

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My day started off with a session discussing storage in a VDI world and in particular Compellent configuration options, this was really insightful and whilst the subject matter is something I feel very comfortable with the insight into the Compellent specifics was of a great help. This session also led to me speaking to some great technical people at Dell that are actually specialising in VDI in terms of storage and configuration options. I am hoping to be able to do some follow up with these guys in the future and will blog what I can. 

VDI

As mentioned all my other sessions during the day were NDA and whilst I can’t blog about these, once again I want to highlight how beneficial it is to have access to these sessions and the subsiquent access to the execs afterwards. 

Outside of the sessions I did sit the Compellent vSphere integration lab which was good to see how the integrations between the two works, particularly with the web client integration. I also had some further time speaking to vendors and looking around the show floor. 

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Random shot of hardware but I liked it! 🙂

During the evening reception yesterday at the Dell Enterprise Forum I spent some time speaking to some of the vendors and Dell staff on the stands on the show floor. Amongst one of the stands that grabbed my attention was the desktop virtualisation stand with Dell Wyse Thin Clients and the nVidia GRID technology on display. The Dell Wyse Cloud Connect is a pocket sized Thin Client Dongle, I had read about it when it was released but hadn’t had a chance to see it in action.

The Cloud Connect was demonstrated on a lovely Dell 27” touchscreen display (I really need to find out more about this), the Cloud Connect runs an Android OS and as well as supporting remote connectivity to all the usual VDI and Session Host providors it also supports local Android Applications and web browsing. The unit itself has built in WIFI, Bluetooth as well as a limited amount of storage, room to add further storage and USB host ports for external devices. 

With its mobile form factor and the fact that you can manage these devices via a cloud portal, this could potentially make a very interesting device for remote workers and education environments amongst others. I work with a number of companies that wish to enable staff to use their home PCs to connect into VDI environments, but due to legislation that dictates only company owned devices can connect to the VDI environment this isn’t possible. With a cost effective device like this, potentially this situation could be solved?

I need to spend some time with one of these units to figure out actually how feasible it is to use as regular thin client, but when I manage to get my hands on one I will post my results. If you are at Dell EF be sure to check it out on their stand. 

Dell Wyse Cloud Connect

All of my photos can be found on my flickr page for the conference here >> https://flic.kr/s/aHsjX7xaQX. A few of my favourite are below

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These seem to have got a lot of attention on twitter and at the conference today. I generally create these for my benefit to help me note down key takeaways from the sessions, but I am pleased to share them and if others find them useful thats great! I am creating them with Penultimate and my Evernote Stylus, they are created in real time and are probably full of spelling errors etc.

Keynote

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News Conference

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Blogger Panel Session

Blogger Panel Session

Customer Panel Session

Customer Panel

EqualLogic Session – Growing your EqualLogic with SSD and Hybrid Member

Growing Your EqualLogic SAN with SSD and Hybrid

 

I have recently been given the opportunity to take a deeper look at the Dell DR4000 Backup Appliance, as this now fully supports Veeam it was of particular interest to me. The DR4000 is a server appliance based upon the de-duplication technology Dell acquired from Ocarina. 

Out of the box to running was very quick and easy, with a text based wizard guiding me through the initial steps then moving onto the web based user interface. It took no more than 10-15mins of my time for the initial configuration and access to the user interface. 

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Once the initial configuration was completed I logged into the user interface, the default username is administrator and password is St0r@ge!. Once you are logged in, you get a dashboard view of the appliance, the screenshot below is taken after a number of backups with Veeam. As you can see I have managed to get a total de-duplication saving of 63% across my Veeam backup jobs that I wrote to the appliance. I only had the opportunity to write a small amount of backups but presumably the more backups wrote there would be potential for larger savings. To break it down Veeam backed up 1.9TB of VMs to a 391GB file, the appliance below shows this backups, a reverse incremental for this backup at 46GB and a further 7GB backup file, after de-duplication and compression on the DR4000 these files were down to 168GB. 

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One thing to note was in my haste I only plugged in one PSU and one NIC rather than the full 4 available and they show as errors in the hardware health page. 

Health

The box comes configured out the box with a backup container ready for you to write your Veeam, Commvault, AppAssure etc backups too. You are also able to run through a very simple wizard to create other containers. 

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You are also able to configure the compression level across the appliance to be able to favour maximum compression but there could be a performance hit or fast to get a happy medium. 

Compression

One of the elements that I really like about the DR4000 is the ability to use it to offsite your backups, you are able to quickly and easily configure one box to be a target and one to be a source. You are able to allow one DR4000 to be a target for up 5 source boxes. 

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Once you have your backups writing to the appliance there are a good range of stats and usage statistics to tell you what is going. 

Stats

Usage

The only configuration needed from a Veeam perspective was to set the jobs deduce-friendly option and add a new repository pointing at the CIFs share. 

 

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For me simplicity and effectiveness are key when it comes to backups they are one of the most important elements of IT to your business but they aren’t something you want to have sleepless nights worrying about, this is one of the reasons I like Veeam so much. For me the DR4000 adds to these elements offering further compression and the ability to simply and effectively move your backups offsite. 

I have a video demo available of this whole setup if anyone is interested please let me know.