Scale Computing and single-node configurations for the discerning punter


I had the opportunity to speak to Jason Collier and Alan Conboy from Scale Computing about a month ago after they announced their “single-node configuration of its HC3 virtualization platform”. This is “designed to deliver affordable, flexible hyperconverged infrastructure for distributed enterprise and Disaster Recovery (DR) use cases”. I’m a big fan of Scale’s HC3 platform (and not just because they gave me a HC1000 demo cluster to trial). It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it works well for its target market. Traditionally (!), HCI and other converged offerings have called for 3 nodes (and sometimes 2) to be considered resilient at a cluster level. When Scale sell you their HC3 solution you start at 3 nodes and work up from there. So how do they do the single-node thing?


Use Cases

In the market I operate in, the use of a single node at the edge makes quite a bit of sense. Customers with edge sites generally don’t have access to IT resources or even suitable facilities but they sometimes have a reasonable link back to the core or decent WAN optimisation in place. So why not use the core to provide the resiliency you would have normally configured locally? Scale call this the “distributed enterprise” model, with the single node HC3 solution replicating workload back to the core. If something goes wrong at the edge you can point users to your workload in the core and keep on going [do you like how I made that sound really simple?].

You can also use the single-node configuration as a DR target for an HC3 cluster. The built-in replication can be configured quickly and without extra software to a single HC3 node located locally or remotely. This, again, is a cheap and cheerful solution to what can sometimes be seen as an expensive insurance policy against infrastructure failure.


Thoughts and Further Reading

Risk versus cost is a funny thing. Some people are very good at identifying risk but not very good at understanding what it will cost them if something goes wrong. Some people like to talk a lot about risk but then their only mitigation is to note it in a “risk register”. In any case, I think Scale have come up with a smart solution because they’re selling to people in a cost sensitive market. This solution helps to alleviate some of the expense related to providing DR and distribute compute (and thus provides some reduced risk for SMBs). That said, everyone’s situation is different, and you need to assess the risk related to running workload at the edge on a single node. If that node fails, you can failover your workload to the core. Assuming you have a process in place for this. And applications that support it. And sufficient bandwidth from the core to the edge. In any case, if you’re in the market for low-cost HCI, Scale should be on your radar. And if you’re looking at distributed HCI you should definitely be looking at the single-node solution. You can read some more in Scale’s press release here. The solution brief can be found here. El Reg also has something to say about it here. Some generally very useful technical resources from Scale can be found here.

VMware – vFORUM 2016 Sydney – A Few Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended VMware vFORUM 2016.  My flights, transfers, and conference pass were paid for by VMware via the vChampions program. My accommodation and time were covered by my employer. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.




Alister Dias performed MC duties for the keynote, with Pat Gelsinger delivering his first keynote in Australia as CEO of VMware. I won’t provide a transcript here but rather some of the key points. (BTW I think Pat did a great job considering he’d just gotten off the plane from Tokyo a few hours prior).

  • Virtualisation in Australia and New Zealand has market highest penetration in the world
  • “be_tomorrow” – key opportunities for tomorrow. Is digital transformation the new business? Or is this the old, traditional business? New and cool? Or old and clunky? In their opinion all business is digital business.
  • Driven by cloud and mobility.


What’s your strategy?

  • 80% of companies still laggards in transformation
  • Culture and technology – redefining the rules, changing the framework, choosing modern technologies and processes.
  • Every business needs to become a digital business
  • Cloud is an essential technology (some background on cloud – Schmidt from Google – 2006)
  • Predicts that in June 2021 – 50% workloads in the cloud (20% private, 30% public, 50/50 split SaaS/IaaS). 50% public cloud? 2030. There’s a long way to go.
  • People building less DCs and consuming more in hosting environments
  • Machine-connected as opposed to human-connected devices connected to the cloud (not just smart lightbulbs) – 4x explosion in the number of devices
  • Cloud will decrease the total IT market? Not at all. Cloud will expand the market for IT.
  • Gelsinger talks about being Chief Architect for 486 CPU.
  • Explosion of “Shadow IT” – every piece of the business needs IT now
  • The bad news is “you’re still expected to make sure everything works right and is secure”, despite the fact that you have no control over the apps, data, users, devices, network, platform, DC, etc.


Challenge of “Freedom versus Control”

  • IT are the parents (wanting control) of teenagers (wanting freedom)
  • How do we have both? VMware is focused on bringing those two worlds together
  • Bringing together private and public cloud – transform IT into software-driven thing. DC as programmable and automated.
  • With compute – this is vSphere (with 6.5 – modern UI (!),  comprehensive built-in security, expanding application domains)
  • With management – leader in cloud management, NSX in the tornado of adoption
  • With storage – vSAN 6.5 – reductions in TCO, improvements in All-Flash support
  • Extension of this SDDC into the public cloud
  • Bring together all the private and public capabilities together? Cross-cloud architecture. “Run, manage, connect and secure your apps across any cloud environment using a common operating capability”.
  • “Like having a teenager you both love and like”
  • VMware Cloud Foundation
  • SaaS Services – Cross-Cloud services – enabling you to manage any cloud (VMware-based or not)
  • Foundation for hybrid cloud and public cloud services as well (mentions vCAN partners)
  • Foundational announcements – IBM making Cloud Foundation available as a service and partnership with AWS – bringing together leader in private with leader in public cloud.
  • Platform that says “Any cloud”. In the past they provided the freedom for “Any hardware”.
  • “Any application”. What about the legacy apps built over 10 – 30 years?
  • “Any device” – consumer simple and enterprise secure. Mentions Workspace One.

Never before have your capabilities been important in transforming business capabilities.

Bruce Davie then did some great demos on cross-cloud services and tied together Gelsinger’s key thematic notes quite nicely.



I won’t do the full disclosure post like I usually do with event attendance (although I’m sure you’re all very disappointed to read that), but as part of my attendance at this event I received:



While vFORUM has finished, you might find VMware’s Tech Guide a useful download. It contains details of all the sessions from the two days, along with useful links to collateral and further reading. In the next few weeks I’ll try and put together some posts on vSphere 6.5 and Cloud Foundations, etc.

New book on VMware SRM now available

Good news, “Disaster Recovery Using VMware vSphere Replication and vCenter Site Recovery Manager – Second Edition” has just been released via Packt Publishing. It was written by Abhilash G B and I had the pleasure of serving as the technical reviewer. While SRM 6.5 has just been announced this is nonetheless a handy manual with some great guidance (and pictures!) on how to effectively use SRM with both array-based and vSphere Replication-based protection. There’s an ebook version available for purchase with a print copy also available for order.


Brisbane VMUG – November 2016


The November edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Thursday 17th November at the EMC office from 2 – 4pm (that’s right, the same day as Ikea opens at North Lakes). It’s sponsored by VMware and promises to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Presentation: My favourite VCDX Michael Francis will be presenting a deep dive on the design considerations and the realities of extending your data centre to VMware vCloud Air with VMware Hybrid Cloud Manager.
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments.

Michael will be presenting a tonne of technical content using real world use cases and it should be a great session. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. This will be the last session for the year, with our next event hopefully being a social event in December.


Dell EMC Announces Isilon All-Flash

You get a flash, you get a flash, you all get a flash

Last week at Dell EMC World it was announced that the Isilon All-Flash NAS (formerly “Project Nitro“) offering was available for pre-order (and GA in early 2017). You can check out the specs here, but basically each chassis is comprised of 4 nodes in 4RU. Dell EMC says this provides “[e]xtreme density, modular and incredibly scalable all-flash tier” with the ability to have up to 100 systems with 400 nodes, storing 92.4PB of capacity, 25M IOPS and up to 1.5TB/s of total aggregate bandwidth—all within a single file system and single volume. All OneFS features are supported, and a OneFS update will be required to add these to existing clusters.


[image via Dell EMC]



Dell EMC are saying this solution provides 6x greater IOPS per RU over existing Isilon nodes. It also helps in areas where Isilon hasn’t been as competitive, providing:

  • High throughput for large datasets of large files for parallel processing;
  • IOPS intensive: You can now work on billions of small files and large datasets for parallel processing;
  • Predictable latency and performance for mixed workloads; and
  • Improved cost of ownership, with higher density flash providing some level of relief in terms of infrastructure and energy efficiency.


Use Cases?

Dell EMC covered the usual suspects – but with greater performance:

  • Media and entertainment;
  • Life sciences;
  • Geoscience;
  • IoT; and
  • High Performance Computing.


Thoughts and Further Reading

If you followed along with the announcements from Dell EMC last week you would have noticed that there have been some incremental improvements in the current storage portfolio, but no drastic changes. While it might make for an exciting article when Dell EMC decide to kill off a product, these changes make a lot more sense (FluidFS for XtremIOenhanced support for Compellent, and the addition of a PowerEdge offering for VxRail). The addition of an all-flash offering for Isilon has been in the works for some time, and gives the platform a little extra boost in areas where it may have previously struggled. I’ve been a fan of the Isilon platform since I first heard about it, and while I don’t have details of pricing, if you’re already an Isilon shop the all-flash offering should make for interesting news.

Vipin V.K did a great write-up on the announcement that you can read here. The press release from Dell EMC can be found here. There’s also a decent overview from ESG here. Along with the above links to El Reg, there’s a nice article on Nitro here.

Dell EMC World 2016 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2016.  My flights, transfers, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the EMC Elect program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.


Here are my notes on gifts, etc, that I received as a conference attendee at Dell EMC World 2016. This is by no stretch an interesting post from a technical perspective, but it’s a way for me to track and publicly disclose what I get and how it looks when I write about various things. I’m going to do this in chronological order, as that was the easiest way for me to take notes during the week. While everyone’s situation is different, I took 5 days of training / work time to be at this event (thanks to my employer for being on board).



I took a cab to the airport, paid for by my employer. I caught a Qantas flight from BNE -> LAX and then had a 2.5 hour layover before travelling on to AUS. I consumed some plane food on the long flight over. It wasn’t great and the tray tables on the old plane made it hard to eat, so I didn’t really end up eating much. [I also crossed the International Date Line so if it seems like I did a lot on Monday it was because it was a very long day]

In Austin I was transported via a car service to the JW Marriott. This was covered by Dell EMC. Once I’d checked into my hotel, I made my way over to the Austin Convention Center. Registration had opened early for Dell EMC World so I picked up my conference badge.

Before heading out for the evening, I had a few Live Oak HefeWeizen beers in the hotel, courtesy of Mark May and Mark Browne. On Monday night I travelled to the #vBBQ event at the Salt Lick in Driftwood courtesy of the EMC Elect (and Mark Browne in particular). I picked up a Caringo stubble holder (I think Americans call these things “koozies“), a lot of meat, and some nice beers. Big shoutout to Sarah Vela for organising this, and the event sponsors Caringo Storage, EMC Elect, Winslow Tech Group, and Pivotal.



I had breakfast at the hotel buffet. This consisted of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon (American style – what is wrong with you people?), melon, coffee, and orange juice. This was courtesy of Dell EMC via a voucher. They gave us three vouchers to use for meals in the hotel when we weren’t at the conference – one for breakfast (US $30) and two for dinners (US $50 each). For lunch I had “The Corner Burger” and fries at the Corner Restaurant in the hotel and a couple of Pearl Snap Pils beers. This was also covered by Dell EMC via a voucher. 

There was a “Social Influencers” reception held at the Convention Center that evening. I had a few Austin Amber beers. Oh, and this happened.


We then moved on to the main welcome reception. There were three live bands playing:

I had a few more Austin Amber beers and some nachos and ribs from the Bohemian BBQ food truck.



Breakfast was migas, ham and cheese quiche, and fruit salad at the Social Compass Influencer breakfast hosted by Dell EMC at the Old Pecan Street Café. We all received a nice compass in a wooden box as well.


[photo courtesy of Dell EMC]

I had lunch at the Convention Center in the Press and Analysts area – this was some kind of buffet.

I picked up various bits and bobs from the Solutions Showcase, including a VxRail bottle opener (all I had to do was send a tweet – yes I’m a shill), a SecureWorks t-shirt with my choice of screen prints on it (out of three or four different types available), a 2GB (!) Dell EMC Data Protection USB stick, and some carry bags from Absolute and Shi.  

They were handing out beer at General Session II so I grabbed another Austin Amber. For dinner I had another burger and two Austinite Pils beers at The Corner Restaurant at the hotel. This was covered by my Dell EMC provided voucher. Unfortunately I skipped the Dropbox and Nutanix parties as I’d been badly jet lagged and didn’t sleep well at all the night before. By all accounts they were a lot of fun.



For breakfast I had two ham and cheese croissants, some yoghurt, coffee, and a bottle of water. After my morning meeting I did a whip around the Solutions Showcase and picked up a sticker and some mints from Virtustream. I had lunch in the press and analysts room, consisting of a cedar smoked chicken sandwich, water, apple, potato chips, and a cookie. I picked up a couple of bottles of water for the road and headed back to the hotel to wait for my shuttle to the airport. Transport to the airport was covered by Dell EMC. 

Dell EMC World 2016 – Michael Dell Q & A Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2016.  My flights, transfers, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the EMC Elect program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.


Here are my rough notes from the Q & A session with Michael Dell held for Press, Analysts and Social Influencers on Day 1 of Dell EMC World. They’re not comprehensive, but they may be useful to someone. We also heard from Jeff Clarke, David Goulden and Howard Elias, and I’ve included their stuff here as well.


Michael Dell

Dell EMC has the capability to do innovation at scale, and it’s now a privately controlled company – giving them enormous flexibility.


Traditional competitors are moving to OpEx models away from CapEx. Do you have the right mix for you, the company, customers, etc?

We have a bunch of flexible payment options, OpenScale architecture, EMC has embraced Dell Financial Services strongly from Day 1.

What do you think are going to be the major challenges for mid-market companies in IoT space and what about security?

Solutions and requirements vary by customer size. Some great tech that’s now being made available to smaller companies. Eg Data Domain. As new tech pops up, a bunch of new companies startup as well. Not all will survive. Dell Technologies Ventures invested in over 150 companies. These are 3-5 years out in terms of product roadmaps. As far as security goes, it’s scary. Sophistication of attacks is increasing. Dell EMC are storing and protecting over half of the mission critical data in the world. The cost of not protecting data is a lot higher than protecting your stuff.

What’s your ideal partner of the future, and how does that impact current partners?

The channel is worth around $40 billion. Channel partners aren’t going to sell “everything” Dell EMC offer. Servers and storage line up ok – nice “logical adjacencies”. One channel program.

Dell and EMC are complimentary. What areas will change, lay the foundation for the next level of growth?

The role of IT is shifting from the back office (making things more efficient). Creation, recreation, reinvention of entire businesses. New things are required. “We’re not two companies anymore, we’re one company”

Modernise, automate, transform approach [from the General Session]. Is there an applied analysis step missing there?

For the purposes of the stage and the presentation – they put it into 3 easy steps. But really, it’s as-is and to be states. What’s required to get there? There’s no one size fits all.

Is there a Dell Open Networking platform update?

Do I know everything? No.

Sidebar comment on the intellectual capital that’s been drawn together with these companies coming together.

Re: Open Networking there’s been some growth and there are some opportunities. There’s an alliance with Cisco via Vblock. NSX as the operating system for the virtual network.

Which business will have the highest growth? How do you see the Chinese companies growing?

Percentage growth? Where will the money come from? Dell leading the consolidation of parts of the industry. In DC, rapidly growing in All-flash (40% share). Boomi doing cloud data integration.

How ambitious are you to be #1 server vendor?

We’re #1 in revenues, but not units. More profitable too.

Do you want to make/sell phones?

Nope. In terms of mobility, we’re heavily focused on Air Watch. For every new smartphone, another server pops up – thanks! :)


Jeff Clarke now on stage

With this endpoint solution [mentioned in the General Session] is this a bundle, or a go to market approach?

A Initially a bundle. But building various points of integration leading to a single console.

Is there any technology or engineering that you can leverage from EMC that can impact on what you’re doing from the client device side?

Integration with software and infrastructure and edge is a good end-to-end solution.

Given that you’re now one family. What about the company’s competitors?

We have a broader set of competitors now to go with the broader portfolio. Still HP, Lenovo and Apple from a client devices perspective.

How would you assess your competitive position against Lenovo, HP, etc?

We’ve been leading for 15 quarters. Changed the game with the types of devices being built. None of them have the breadth of products across the portfolio.

3D X-point for memory, cache, etc. How long before it moves out of HPC into servers and down into laptops and compute? Do you see something else?

Our industry doesn’t get rid of things, we add things. It keeps us in business for the most part.

Where are you going with desktop or device as a service?

Folks are re-thinking about how they want to do this stuff. We currently do OptiPlex as service. Being able to virtualise clients helps too.

Is there a profitability framework that you use to determine segment’s attractiveness? Thinking here in terms of IoT.

Well, is it adjacent to existing compute devices? VR and AR as natural extensions of ways to interact.


Howard Elias, President, Services and IT,  and David Goulden, President, Infrastructure Solutions Group take the stage

You get value when you focus on people, process and operating model. ProSupport One is Generally Available today (this was announced Day 1 of the merger).

And that’s all I have. A little fluffy, but good to hear it from Dell himself. 4 stars.

Dell EMC World 2016 – Closing General Session Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2016.  My flights, transfers, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the EMC Elect program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.


Here are my rough notes from the Closing General Session at Day 2 of Dell EMC World 2016. These are by no means complete, but they may come in handy for someone. Like most tech conferences, the closing session is generally run by thinky folks from outside the company. Besides Jeremy Burton presenting a short summary video covering the last few days of activity, there was no Dell EMC presence on stage.


“Innovation Panel” moderated by Aarti Shahani.

Every company wants you to believe they’re upending the world, and the 5 largest companies in the world by market cap are tech companies.


Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell) takes the stage.


“I’m the guy who has a blackberry” – he says it’s hard to talk to a crowd about something when they know more about it than you do.

The social dimension of innovation – there’s the thing we’re innovating and then there’s the context in which we’re innovating.

Example of fighting childhood leukaemia – Emil J. Freireich, Jr – using the 4 drug treatments at the time all at the same time. Published a paper in 1965 in Advances in Chemotherapy – solved the problem. We still use this strategy today. Cure rate for childhood leukaemia is now around 98%. That’s an example of innovation. He got an idea and took an enormous risk in testing out. He didn’t just take an operational risk, he took a social risk.

Sense of Urgency

Have you tried it on animals? What if you fail? “I’ve got 6 kids who’ll al be dead in 6 weeks, why can’t i try?”. Sense of urgency helped him go forward, other people had been doing science by the book. The compulsion to tackle the problem immediately. Gladwell gave the example of Xerox PARC, with Steve Jobs visitingt in 1979. Showed him the Alto with a GUI. Jobs goes back to his team, stops work on the Lisa and comes up with the Mac. What is it that distinguishes Jobs? Not smarter. Not a visionary. More resources? No. He’s in a hurry. It has to be done tomorrow. That’s the reason we’re not using Xerox computers today.


Don’t require the approval of others. Innovators are open, conscientious, and disagreeable. You need to not require the world to pat you on the back. There will be a time when the world thinks you’re crazy.

Gladman gave the example of Ingvar Kamprad working on Swedish furniture in the 50s – became Ikea. “Furniture made in Poland and shipped flat”. Dissruption requires some inner strength and independence of character.

Someone who doesn’t believe in the status quo

Things are always more volatile and unstable than we think.

Example of digital security. People seem quite complacent about all of this stuff. It would be easy to give up if you were trying to be an innovator in this space, but that’s not the right way to approach it.

Gladman spoke to Emil (Tom?) Frei about his work on leukaemia – was there ever a time when you were scared for your job? Sure, he had 3 small children, his wife didn’t work. Why’d you keep doing it? I had no choice. Once the innovator identifies the problem and figures out the solution, there’s nothing anyone can do to get in the way.


Kevin Kelly (Founding editor of Wired) takes the stage


He wants to talk about the next 25 years of technology.

If you want an answer, you ask a machine. Answers are free. Imagine the internet in 25 years time as a conversation. 1 answer creates 2 new questions. In a way, science is expanding our ignorance (more questions than answers) faster than it is our knowledge. A good question is the sign of a great education – a good question liberates answers and even better questions.

1. Artificial power (stream power, motors, electric power)

You could take something that was manually done, add artificial power, and then you get a new thing (industrial revolution). Now we’re taking artificially powered things and adding AI – the second industrial revolution

IQ as a service – flowing like electricity

Next 10000 startups = take X, add AI

What would you do with 1000 minds?

2. Maximum interaction with devices by going inside them via VR

  • Mixed Reality (augmented) – great for education
  • The internet of experiences
  • VR works on a different part of our brains – you don’t see stuff, you experience it
  • Experiences as the new currency, telepresence
  • The most amazing things in these experiences are other people
  • “VR will be the most social of social media”
  • What makes great experiences?

3. Uber – no cars, Facebook – no content, Alibaba – no inventory, AirBnB – no real estate

Access is more important (e.g. Spotify or Netflix). “Access is better than ownership”

  • Instant access
  • Rapid delivery
  • Immediate manufacture
  • Dematerialization
  • Constant upgrades

What can be accessed rather than owned?

4. IoT – everything we make has intelligence and communication embedded in it. Sharing economy. Nowhere near peak sharing.

  • Sharing
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Communities
  • Social Platforms

Facebook – 1.5B connections. Wikipedia is an example of scalable collaboration.

One financial heartbeat? One global economy?

The new machine

  • 1 quintrillion transistors
  • 55 trillion links
  • 20 petahertz refresh rate
  • 275 Exabytes memory
  • 100 billion clicks per day

Technological super-organism

What can you do with a billion people and their machines simultaneously in real-time?

We are at the birth of the beginning

The greatest products of the next 20 years have not been invented yet – so you’re not too late.


Tien Tzuo (zuora) takes the stage


Innovation in the subscription economy

  • There has never been a better time to innovate
  • in the last 15 years, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared

Who survived?

  • General Electric – from light bulbs to digital services
  • IBM – from punch card tabulators to cognitive data services

Not just product companies anymore – digital, services

  • Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, salesforce – the relationship-makers
  • uber, Netflix, box, AirBnB – the new disruptors

What is happening?

  • a 100 year old paradigm is crumbling – it’s not about the product

We have new expectations

  • Outcomes – not ownership
  • Customisation – not generalisation
  • Constant improvement – not planned obsolescence
  • We want the subscription experience #shifthappens

every industry is shifting

  • $420B spent on subscriptions in the US in 2015

transformation is the opportunity – $80 trillion is up for grabs

  • Traditional – Product via channels to the customer
  • Now – subscriber via channels to service experience

Growth in the new world is about

  1. Acquiring more customers
  2. Lowering churn
  3. Increasing value per customer

This changes things

  • Unit sales -> Value pricing
  • Branding -> Experience
  • Selling products -> Solving needs
  • Unit margins -> Customer lifetime value
  • Hit products -> Deep relationships

ERP systems were built for the past – can’t help you innovate. Can’t help you

  • Iterate on pricing;
  • Design great experiences;
  • Sales rep solve needs;
  • Calculate customer lifetime value; or
  • Help build a subscription economy.

That’s why they built zuora – turn your customers into subscribers. Transform your business around them. So you innovate for the next 100 years, today.

Discussion Panel to close off

Uber and self-driving cars as a case study in innovation. Is Uber innovative because their CEO is disagreeable? Or are they going to be overtaken?

Malcolm – the innovation hasn’t started. Taxi service on your phone. What has happened so far is the easy part.

Tien – Taxi hailing service like Amazon is just a shipping service. There’s a set of intelligent technology behind moving people from point A to point B.

Kevin – there was some disruption from Uber, based on the politics, outcry that came from that. But it’s just the beginning.

Aarti – Uber re-organising the relationship between boss and labour. What are we learning about Uber as a labour story?

Kevin – social media as a whole is less than 2000 days old. We have a tendency to learn about things by thinking about things. Sometimes we need to learn from experience (e.g. Wikipedia)

Malcolm – the harder disruptive stuff still hasn’t happened. Labour? Think about GM? A lot of energy spent on the care of current and former employees – unions, healthcare, government relationships, social management. A lot of startups don’t have that social expertise. Do they need it? They’re going to run into the difficulties faced by old economy companies.

Aarti – when will we see level 3 or 4 self-driving?

Kevin – 5 years. That’s what the car companies are saying.

Malcolm – what about when all the cars are autonomous. We have protection because of humans. We can change the cars once we remove the human element.

Aarti – is this complicated? Keep the driver alive? Keep the pedestrian alive?

Kevin – there’s a whole emerging field of ethics around this. Trying to work out some consensus.

Aarti – Debate?

Kevin – yes it is. Ethics are uneven and inconsistent with humans. Hard to teach to cars.

Aarti – do they embed the limitations or make us better?

Kevin – like having kids, make us better.

Malcolm – e.g. Army – rangers vs green berets. Each organisation has a culture and an algorithm for solving a problem. It gets super complicated super fast.

Kevin – who do you want to decide this?

Aarti – DoT inserted themselves into the conversation. Suggested companies share their proprietary data on crashes.

Tien – Entrepreneur’s view – What is the smallest step that you can take now in the end game?

And that’s a wrap. Nice way to close out the event. 4.5 stars.


[image courtesy of Jon Klaus]

Dell EMC World 2016 – Opening General Session Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2016.  My flights, transfers, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the EMC Elect program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.


Here are my rough notes from the Opening General Session at Day 1 of Dell EMC World. These are by no means complete, but they may come in handy for someone.


Jeremy Burton takes the stage, letting us know that they’re expecting around 8000 people over the next 2 days. The theme is “Let the transformation begin”. But you knew that already.

Michael Dell takes the stage. This is the first Dell EMC World, a year after announcing the merger at last year’s Dell World. Dell EMC are “Democratizing technology”.


Technology has evolved from a bookkeeping, back office tool to something at the centre of our lives, and it can be used to amplify, enhance and enable human progress. There are 8 billion connected devices today, with 200 billion or more expected in 15 years time. The force of innovation – everything improves about 10x every 5 years, 1000x improvement in everything in 15 years

  • “smart cities full of driverless cars”
  • nano bots curing cancer?
  • drones?

Internet of everything (drink!). Dell calls this “[t]he next industrial revolution – the sunrise of a new era, the digital dawn”

Looming digital disaster? Over 4000 executives were polled

  • 45% fear they will be obsolete in 3-5 years
  • 48% have no idea what their industry will look like in 3 years
  • 78% businesses consider digital start-ups a threat

Dell EMC are in stuff. A lot of stuff. They’re in 20 Gartner Magic Quadrants. They have 20K+ patents and applications. They have a $4.5B annual R&D spend. When discussing competitors saying that Dell EMC might be distracted, Dell claims they’re quite the opposite, and “Anyone who tells you otherwise is just factually incorrect”.

Dell EMC are maintaining and investing in strong ecosystems and independent architectures giving the customer choice and flexibility.

  • They’re aligning capabilities across the entire Dell Technologies family
  • They have 60k service and partner service pros

Dell says that Dell EMC are positioned to be “THE trusted provider of essential infrastructure for the next industrial revolution”.

Video of Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO GE. GE were an early investor in Pivotal (2013). “You go to bed an industrial company and wake up a software and analytics company”

With the right software we can deliver engineered and integrated solutions for private and hybrid cloud

  • Modernise infrastructure and architecture
  • Automate service delivery and management
  • Transform it operations to delivery modern

Modernise? Flash, scale out, software defined

Video of Randall Stephenson, ATT. SDN is really changing how they’re interacting with customers.

  • VxRail is the future of the data centre
  • VMware as the software defined approach to infrastructure operations
  • virtustream for transform. Service level guarantees like we’ve not seen before.

Workforce and workplace transformation are equally important as infrastructure transformation

  • 15 quarters in a row of increasing PC share
  • Dell is the only one growing
  • connections between the edge and the cloud will be increasingly crucial to workplace

Video of Marcy Klevorn, Ford

  • Increasing value of the data – the attack surface is growing significantly.
  • Security transformation as third pillar
  • Policy needs to adapt to requirements of the business, rather than inhibiting
  • Needs to be information driven, risk driven
  • We’re getting a first look at “the next great technology company”

Partnership with “girls who code

“When we stand at the centre of techology, we stand at the centre of human progress”

David Goulden – President, Infrastructure Solutions Group then takes the stage.

Back to the survey mentioned earlier

  • 53% of respondents have experienced significant disruption
  • 92% see digital business initiatives as critical to success

The next 15 years?

  • Internet of Everything
  • IT-enabled businesses and economies
  • new systems of engagement

IT spend

  • traditional applications – 2.7 trillion dollars, now in optimise mode
  • cloud-native applications – invest mode

These apps are different

  • traditional – client-server scale-up apps, infrastructure resilience, IT centric
  • cloud-native – distributed scale-out apps, app resiliency, DevOps centric
  • Off-premises vs on-premises, the answer is hybrid – a multi-cloud world

But it’s a workload based decision.

Hybrid cloud can offer 24% cost savings vs traditional infrastructure.

The path to enterprise hybrid cloud – Modernise, automate, transform

  • virtustream for performance-sensitive, mission-critical apps
  • virtustream storage cloud
  • VMware and IBM and AWS, also google cloud platform and Azure

Cloud building blocks – your apps, platform, orchestration, virtualisation, servers, storage & network

Cheesy VXRail video

Delivering modern infrastructure – your apps, platform, orchestration, converged and hyper-converged. Dell EMC are #1 in converged infrastructure, servers, storage, flash

Design shift – move from converged to hyperconverged

  • high core-count CPUs
  • high perf and capacity flash media
  • high speed ethernet

start small, and growing big.

Dell EMC are also #1 in SDS, virtualisation and data protection. VxRail is now powered by Dell PowerEdge servers, and you can get 200 VMs on 3 RU system for under  $50K. This would have taken 132 servers and 2292 9GB HDDs 15 years ago.

  • integrated backup
  • cloud enabled
  • virtual desktops
  • enterprise hybrid cloud
  • native hybrid cloud
  • analytics insight

VxRack is now also powered by latest generation Dell PowerEdge servers.

Dell EMC are still selling PowerEdge servers (Blades, rack, towers, modules) if that’s what you’re into too.

New releases

Commitment to continuous innovation

Jeff Clarke (@JClarkeatDell) is VP Operations and President Client Solutions Dell and he’s feeling a little “geeked up”.

The workplace is changing

  • Avg office space 60% smaller than it was 15 years ago
  • 2/3 employees around the globe work at home
  • Security, working in public, personal devices
  • Millennials influenced by the tech they have access to in the workplace

New (old) challenge around edge security

  • 45% companies had one or more data breaches in past 24 months
  • 4x ransomware attacks than last year
  • 4000 incidents per day

Add Mozy (data protection), RSA (threat protection), RSA (identity management) and Air Watch (endpoint management) and add them to Dell edge protection.

  • Laptops, tablets, monitors – comprehensive portfolio
  • Tablet as PC replacement? Hogwash – not happening. PC continues to be the productivity device.
  • 43” monitor – 4 video streams – 4 x 21” monitors

Frank Azor (@AzorFrank) (co-founder Alienware) has 20 years with Alienware (10 of those with Dell). Talked about VR and how that’s changing things.

Dell then comes out to wrap it up – “it’s gonna be epic”. They’re already operating as one company, and they’re just getting started.

Dell EMC Announces ECS 3.0


Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS to its friends) has been around a little while. Today Dell EMC announced the release of version 3.0. I thought I’d cover off some of the reasons why ECS might be something you’d be interested in. I’ll then go through the new features with ECS 3.0. If you make it that far you’ll be treated to some light opinionalysis to finish off.


Why ECS?

Dell EMC provided me with a list of reasons why you might want to consider ECS.

Highly Efficient Data Protection

One of the problems we have is protecting unstructured data at scale. To this end, ECS uses a hybrid protection scheme comprised of triple mirroring, erasure coding and XOR algorithms. The key benefits of this approach are:

  • Lower storage overhead option for cold data scenarios
  • Enhanced data durability without the overhead of storing multiple copies


Efficient Large and Small File Storage

  • Small files stored in cache and written to a single disk through box-carting
  • Large files over 128MB in size are erasure coded immediately vs triple mirroring and erasure coded later
  • Provides up to 20% higher throughput for larger files


Fully Geo-distributed High Availability & Protection

  • A geographically distributed environment that acts as single logical resource
  • Active/Active platform with access to content through a single global namespace
  • Provides geo-caching to improve operational performance and reduces latency
  • Read/write access from any location globally


Comprehensive Data Access

Simultaneous access to underlying data through multiple interfaces

  • Object, File, HDFS
  • Support for S3, Swift, Atmos, Centera CAS, and NFS v3
  • HDFS compatible with Cloudera, Pivotal, Hortonworks, etc.

What does this mean?

  • Native Upgrade path for Centera/Atmos
  • Enables S3 like offering in-house
  • Eliminates storage gateways
  • Breaks down storage silos


Native Multi-tenant Architecture

  • Shared storage resources amongst multiple applications and tenants
  • System securely and automatically separates Namespaces, object buckets and users
  • Integration with LDAP and AD environments
  • Ensures the integrity of customers’ stored data


Built-in Metadata search

Integrated Metadata storage – store metadata using the same constructs as objects eliminating the need for a separate database and infrastructure to run it.

Metadata search via SQL construct

  • Enables applications and users to query metadata using SQL constructs. Supports several attribute and sort functions.
  • Global metadata search
  • Enables applications and users to search across the global namespace.


So what’s really new in 3.0?

So this ECS stuff is great, but what’s exciting about 3.0?

Advanced Retention Management

  • Event Based Retention – Enables application to specify retention period that will start when a specified event occurs
  • Litigation Hold – Enables application to temporarily prevent deletion of an object that is subject to an investigation or legal action
  • Min/Max Governor – Enables system administrator to specify a min and max value for the default retention period


This unblocks Centera customers using ARM from migration to ECS. I’m actually really excited about this, mainly because I was a big Centera fanboy and have found it difficult to put forward other EMC solutions to replace it for customers heavily leveraging ARM.


SNMP Traps Support

  • ECS 3.0 will support for SNMP Traps for ECS critical events
  • SNMP Traps is an optional feature, based on whether system admin configures SNMP information via UI/API
  • When configured, ECS sends a SNMP Trap to the configured server for any event that causes an alert on the management API
  • ECS supports the ability to configure up to 10 SNMP Trap Destination targets
  • SNMPv2 and SNMPv3 (USM mode) support
  • SNMP Query Service support (CPU & Memory)


Remote Syslog Support

  • Shipping ECS Monitoring & Diagnostics logs to a remote syslog server
  • Ability to forward all ECS Audit Logs and ECS Alerts to a centralized Syslog server
  • Forward OS syslog messages
  • Support for UDP and TCP based communication with syslog servers
  • Support for multiple redundant syslog servers , all active
  • Distributed service, resilient to node failures
  • Only System Admin can perform syslog management operations
  • Specify a severity threshold of logs to be forwarded
  • Ability to Add, Edit and Delete Syslog server configuration from the portal and REST API
  • Logs can be seen on ECS nodes in /var/log/<node IP>/syslog.log


Platform Lockdown

ECS will support a ability to do the following via the ECS RESTful management API

  • Lockdown an entire cluster
  • Lockdown a specific node
  • Unlock a locked node

A new management user role, the lock admin user, for locking is defined that will have the privilege of locking/unlocking the cluster.

In ECS 3.0 this will be a pre-provisioned local user ‘emcsecurity’.

The lock admin user i.e. ‘emcsecurity’ will have the ability to

  • Modify their password (forced during first login)
  • Lock the cluster
  • Lock a node
  • Unlock a node

System admin/monitor has the privilege to view the lock status of a node but NOT modify it


Thoughts and Further Reading

I’ve been talking to a lot of scale-out object storage folks lately. Given the amount of EMC stuff I’ve covered here previously, it’s a little surprising that this is the first time I’ve posted about ECS. That doesn’t mean it’s the first time I’ve looked, and I’ve had customers looking at it fairly seriously. In my opinion, the advanced retention management in 3.0 is really going to put a few customers over the line and finally give them the confidence to throw their Centera grids in the river (figuratively speaking).

The cool thing about ECS, like a lot of these types of solutions, is that you can consume it on your terms, via

  • Appliance;
  • Software defined;
  • Dedicated cloud; and
  • Multi-tenant Storage Cloud.

If you’re feeling keen on ECS, you can take it for a spin here. You can also download a version for free, non-production use here. Grab the datasheet from here.