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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)

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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

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In just 60 seconds

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

 

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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.

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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 http://www.ideastorm.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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 HandsOnVirtualization.com podcast (Yes the website is still down, never user NetPivotal.com 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.

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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 >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/74107311@N05/sets/72157628829952689/

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The third announcement was a new Sharepoint Infrastructure Optimisation Solution featuring the DX range of storage.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 >> http://gminks.edublogs.org/2012/01/10/dell-storage-forum-2012-london-the-day-before/

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

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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 >> http://www.dellstorageforum.com/?elqPURLPage=218

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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 HandsOnVirtualization.com podcast.

Dell have recently announced the latest versions of their SANs the PS4100 and PS6100 Series.

These are the first Equallogic’s that Dell have completely manufactured in house. The previous models although running Dell controllers and firmware were manufactured by Xyratex. The new models utilise both 2.5” and 3.5” disks with the emphasis being on the 2.5” disks.

The new controllers also have some new technology such as vertical port failover previously their was only controller failover rather than per port failover. Gone is the battery write back cache and in with the new backup to flash, meaning you no longer have a limited time to repower your device before the contents of the cache is lost.

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There are now 4 models in the PS4100 range

Model Disks Type Disk Quantity Size U’s
PS4100E 3.5” 7.5K Near Line SAS 12 2
PS4100X 2.5” 10K SAS 24 2
PS4100XV 2.5” 15K SAS 24 2
PS4100XV 3.5” 15K SAS 12 2

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There are 6 models in the PS6100 range

Model Disks Type Disk Quantity Size U’s
PS6100E 3.5” 7.5K Near Line SAS 24 4
PS6100X 2.5” 10K SAS 24 2
PS6100XV 2.5” 15K SAS 24 2
PS6100S 2.5” SSD 24 2
PS6100XS 2.5” SSD + 10K SAS 17 SSD, 7 SAS 2
PS6100XV 3.5” 15K SAS 24 4
 
Conclusions
From what I have seen I see this as a good evolutionary step for Dell’s acquisition of Equallogic, the use of 2.5” disks across the new range has meant increased spindle count with less space requirements in your racks. Also as a nice to have all new SANs will now use Dell’s Rapid Rails, some of the previous Equallogic rails have been questionable but have got a lot better recently. I am particularly pleased to see the enhancements to the hybrid unit, the previous XVS had only 8 SSD’s and 8 15K SAS drives, meaning you were severely limited with capacity, with the new 24 disk model we are seeing a lot better use of a smaller amount of SSD’s with a larger amount of 10K SAS to give the increased capacity. Also the evolutionary steps for the controllers introduce some nice new availability features with the vertical port failover and the flash backed cache.
 
For more information head over to http://www.equallogic.com for more information about the latest range of SANS.

Equallogic has now released firmware version 5.1 for early production use, this means it is completely supported to use in your environment. I mentioned this new release in my Dell Tech Day blog post last month, the major features in this new release are as follows.

  1. 5.1 firmware brings support for the Dell Equallogic FS7500 clustered file system solution, this will allow you to add the FS7500 to your Equallogic group to offer file level storage controlled via your Equallogic array. For more information on the FS7500 check out the product page here >> http://www.equallogic.com/products/default.aspx?id=10465
  2. Support for Active Directory (LDAP) integration for users authentication
  3. Support for VMware Thin Provisioning Stunning – When thinly provisioned volumes with virtual machines reach a pre-defined threshold vCenter will now stun (Suspend) the virtual machines, when additional space is created on the volume the administrator can resume the VM’s. With the current method in previous versions of the firmware the volume is mounted offline resulting in the virtual machines crashing
  4. 10 GB controllers now support Data Center Bridging (DCB) my understanding of this is that it allows the performance characteristics to be kept at a contestant state instead of having peaks and troughs etc. I will complete a dedicate blog post about this in the future
  5. Auditing of administrator actions, full auditing of administrator actions via the GUI or the CLI

and the big feature

The load balancing within the Equallogic groups is now at the sub volume level, the load balancer will balance the work over the members ensuring work is moved from members that under the most pressure.

I am currently running 5.1 in my test environment at the moment and look forward to rolling it out to customer after initial testing. The latest firmware can be downloaded from Equallogic.com by customers with an active support agreement.

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