Random Short Take #45

Welcome to Random Short Take #45. The number 45 has taken a bit of a beating in terms of popularity in recent years, but a few pretty solid players have nonetheless worn 45 in the NBA, including MJ and The Rifleman. My favourite from this list is A.C. Green (“slam so hard, break your TV screen“). So let’s get random.

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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’s a quick post with links to the other posts I did surrounding Dell Technologies World 2019, as well as links to other articles I found interesting.


Product Announcements

Here’re the posts I did covering the main product-related announcements from the show.

Dell EMC Announces Unity XT And More Cloudy Things

Dell EMC Announces PowerProtect Software (And Hardware)

Dell Announces Dell Technologies Cloud (Platforms and DCaaS)



Here’re the posts I did during the show. These were mainly from the media sessions I attended.

Dell – Dell Technologies World 2019 – See You Soon Las Vegas

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Monday General Session – The Architects of Innovation – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Tuesday General Session – Innovation to Unlock Your Digital Future – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Media Session – Architecting Innovation in a Multi-Cloud World – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Wednesday General Session – Optimism and Happiness in the Digital Age – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2019 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure


Dell Technologies Announcements

Here are some of the posts from Dell Technologies covering the major product announcements and news.

Dell Technologies and Orange Collaborate for Telco Multi-Access Edge Transformation

Dell Technologies Brings Speed, Security and Smart Design to Mobile PCs for Business

Dell Technologies Powers Real Transformation and Innovation with New Storage, Data Management and Data Protection Solutions

Dell Technologies Transforms IT from Edge to Core to Cloud

Dell Technologies Cloud Accelerates Customers’ Multi-Cloud Journey

Dell Technologies Unified Workspace Revolutionizes the Way People Work

Dell Technologies and Microsoft Expand Partnership to Help Customers Accelerate Their Digital Transformation


Tech Field Day Extra

I also had the opportunity to participate in Tech Field Day Extra at Dell Technologies World 2019. Here are the articles I wrote for that part of the event.

Liqid Are Dynamic In The DC

Big Switch Are Bringing The Cloud To Your DC

Kemp Keeps ECS Balanced


Other Interesting Articles

TFDx @ DTW ’19 – Get To Know: Liqid

TFDx @ DTW ’19 – Get To Know: Kemp

TFDx @ DTW ’19 – Get to Know: Big Switch

Connecting ideas and people with Dell Influencers

Game Changer: VMware Cloud on Dell EMC

Dell Technologies Cloud and VMware Cloud on Dell EMC Announced

Run Your VMware Natively On Azure With Azure VMware Solutions

Dell Technologies World 2019 recap

Scaling new HPC with Composable Architecture

Object Stores and Load Balancers

Tech Field Day Extra with Liqid and Kemp



I had a busy but enjoyable week. I would have liked the get to some of the technical breakout sessions, but being given access to some of the top executives in the company via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program was invaluable. Thanks again to Dell Technologies (particularly Debbie Friez and Konnie) for having me along to the show. And big thanks to Stephen and the Tech Field Day team for having me along to the Tech Field Day event as well.

Big Switch Are Bringing The Cloud To Your DC

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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.

As part of my attendance at Dell Technologies World 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Tech Field Day Extra sessions. You can view the videos from the Big Switch Networks session here, and download my rough notes from here.


The Network Is The Cloud

Cloud isn’t a location, it’s a design principle. And networking needs to evolve with the times. The enterprise is hamstrung by:

  • Complex and slow operations
  • Inadequate visibility
  • Lack of operational consistency

It’s time that on-premises needs is built the same way as the service providers do it.

  • Software-defined;
  • Automated with APIs;
  • Open Hardware; and
  • Integrated Analytics.

APIs are not an afterthought for Big Switch.

A Better DC Network

  • Cloud-first infrastructure – design, build and operate your on-premises network with the same techniques used internally by public cloud operators
  • Cloud-first experience – give your application teams the same “as-a-service” network experience on-premises that they get with the cloud
  • Cloud-first consistency – uses the same tool chain to manage both on-premises and in-cloud networks


Thoughts and Further Reading

There are a number of reasons why enterprise IT folks are looking wistfully at service providers and the public cloud infrastructure setups and wishing they could do IT that way too. If you’re a bit old fashioned, you might think that loose and fast isn’t really how you should be doing enterprise IT – something that’s notorious for being slow, expensive, and reliable. But that would be selling the SPs short (and I don’t just say that because I work for a service provider in my day job). What service providers and public cloud folks are very good at is getting maximum value from the infrastructure they have available to them. We don’t necessarily adopt cloud-like approaches to infrastructure to save money, but rather to solve the same problems in the enterprise that are being solved in the public clouds. Gone are the days when the average business will put up with vast sums of cash being poured into enterprise IT shops with little to no apparent value being extracted from said investment. It seems to be no longer enough to say “Company X costs this much money, so that’s what we pay”. For better or worse, the business is both more and less savvy about what IT costs, and what you can do with IT. Sure, you’ll still laugh at the executive challenging the cost of core switches by comparing them to what can be had at the local white goods slinger. But you better be sure you can justify the cost of that badge on the box that runs your network, because there are plenty of folks ready to do it for cheaper. And they’ll mostly do it reliably too.

This is the kind of thing that lends itself perfectly to the likes of Big Switch Networks. You no longer necessarily need to buy badged hardware to run your applications in the fashion that suits you. You can put yourself in a position to get control over how your spend is distributed and not feel like you’re feeling to some mega company’s profit margins without getting return on your investment. It doesn’t always work like that, but the possibility is there. Big Switch have been talking about this kind of choice for some time now, and have been delivering products that make that possibility a reality. They recently announced an OEM agreement with Dell EMC. It mightn’t seem like a big deal, as Dell like to cosy up to all kinds of companies to fill apparent gaps in the portfolio. But they also don’t enter into these types of agreements without having seriously evaluated the other company. If you have a chance to watch the customer testimonial at Tech Field Day Extra, you’ll get a good feel for just what can be accomplished with an on-premises environment that has service provider like scalability, management, and performance challenges. There’s a great tale to be told here. Not every enterprise is working at “legacy” pace, and many are working hard to implement modern infrastructure approaches to solve business problems. You can also see one of their customers talk with my friend Keith about the experience of implementing and managing Big Switch on Dell Open Networking.

Kemp Keeps ECS Balanced

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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.

As part of my attendance at Dell Technologies World 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Tech Field Day Extra sessions. You can view the videos from the Kemp session here, and download my rough notes from here.


Kemp Overview

Established early 2000s, Kemp has around 25000+ customers globally, with 60000+ app deployments in over 115 countries. Their main focus is an ADC (Application Delivery Controller) that you can think of as a “fancy load balancer”. Here’s a photo of Frank Yue telling us more about that.

Application Delivery – Why?

  • Availability – transparent failover when application resources fail
  • Scalability – easily add and remove application resources to meet changing demands
  • Security – authenticate users and protect applications against attack
  • Performance – offload security processing and content optimisation to Load Balancer
  • Control – visibility on application resource availability, health and performance

Product Overview

Kemp offer a

LoadMaster – scalable, secure apps

  • Load balancing
  • Traffic optimisation 
  • Security

There are a few different flavours of the LoadMaster, including cloud-native, virtual, and hardware-based.

360 Central – control, visibility

  • Management
  • Automation
  • Provisioning

360 Vision – Shorter MTTD / MTTR

  • Predictive analytics
  • Automated incident réponse
  • Observability

Yue made the point that “[l]oad balancing is not networking. And it’s not servers either. It’s somehow in between”. Kemp look to “[d]eal with the application from the networking perspective”.



So what’s Dell EMC ECS then? ECS stands for “Elastic Cloud Storage”, and it’s Dell EMC’s software-defined object storage offering. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here are a few points to note:

  • Objects are bundled data with metadata;
  • The object storage application manages the storage;
  • No real file system is needed;
  • Easily scale by just adding disks;
  • Delivers a low TCO.

It’s accessible via an API and offers the following services:

  • S3
  • Atmos
  • Swift
  • NFS


Kemp / Dell EMC ECS Solution

So how does a load balancing solution from Kemp help? One of the ideas behind object storage is that you can lower primary storage costs. You can also use it to accelerate cloud native apps. Kemp helps with your ECS deployment by:

  • Maximising value from infrastructure investment
  • Improving service availability and resilience
  • Enabling cloud storage scalability for next generation apps

Load Balancing Use Cases for ECS

High Availability

  • ECS Node redundancy in the event of failure
  • A load balancer is required to allow for automatic failover and event distribution of traffic

Global Balancing

[image courtesy of Kemp]

  • Multiple clusters across different DCs
  • Global Server Load Balancing provides distribution of connections across these clusters based on proximity


  • Offloading encryption from the Dell EMC ECS nodes to Kemp LoadMaster can greatly increase performance and simplify the management of transport layer security certificates
  • IPv6 to IPv4 – Dell EMC ECS does not support IPv6 natively – Kemp will provide that translation to IPv4


Thoughts and Further Reading

The first thing that most people ask when seeing this solution is “Won’t the enterprise IT organisation already have a load-balancing solution in place? Why would they go to Kemp to help with their ECS deployment?”. It’s a valid point, but the value here is more that Dell EMC are recommending that customers use the Kemp solution over the built-in load balancer provided with ECS. I’ve witnessed plenty of (potentially frustrating) situations where enterprises deploy multiple load balancing solutions depending on the application requirements or where the project funding was coming from. Remember that things don’t always make sense when it comes to enterprise IT. But putting those issues aside, there are likely plenty of shops looking to deploy ECS in a resilient fashion that haven’t yet had the requirement to deploy a load balancer, and ECS is that first requirement. Kemp are clearly quite good at what they do, and have been in the load balancing game for a while now. The good news is if you adopt their solution for your ECS environment, you can look to leverage their other offerings to provide additional load balancing capabilities for other applications that might require it.

You can read the deployment guide from Dell EMC here, and check out Adam’s preparation post on Kemp here for more background information.

Liqid Are Dynamic In The DC

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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.

As part of my attendance at Dell Technologies World 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Tech Field Day Extra sessions. You can view the videos from the session here, and download my rough notes from here.



One of the presenters at Tech Field Day extra was Liqid, a company that specialises in composable infrastructure. So what does that mean then? Liqid “enables Composable Infrastructure with a PCIe fabric and software that orchestrates and manages bare-metal servers – storage, GPU, FPGA / TPU, Compute, Networking”. They say they’re not disaggregating DRAM as the industry’s not ready for that yet. Interestingly, Liqid have made sure they can do all of this with bare metal, as “[c]omposability without bare metal, with disaggregation, that’s just hyper-convergence”.


[image courtesy of Liqid]

The whole show is driven through Liqid Command Center, and there’s a switching PCIe fabric as well. You then combine this with various hardware elements, such as:

  • JBoF – Flash;
  • JBoN – Network;
  • JBoG – GPU; and
  • Compute nodes.

There are various expansion chassis options (network, storage, and graphics) and you can add in standard x86 servers. You can read about Liqid’s announcement around Dell EMC PowerEdge servers here.

Other Interesting Use Cases

Some of the more interesting use cases discussed by Liqid included “brownfield” deployments where customers don’t want to disaggregate everything. If they just want to disaggregate GPUs, for example, they can add a GPU pool to a Fabric. This can be done with storage as well. Why would you want to do this kind of thing with networking? There are apparently a few service providers that like the composable networking use case. You can also have multiple fabric types with Liquid managing cross composability.

[image courtesy of Liqid]


Liqid have customers across a variety of workload types, including:

  • AI & Deep Learning
    • GPU Scale out
    • Enable GPU Peer-2-Peer at scale
    • GPU Dynamic Reallocation/Sharing
  • Dynamic Cloud
    • CSP, ISP, Private Cloud
    • Flexibility, Resource Utilisation, TCO
    • Bare Metal Cloud Product Offering
  • HPC & Clustering
    • High Performance Computing
    • Lowest Latency Interconnect
    • Enables Massive Scale Out
  • 5G Edge
    • Utilisation & Reduced Foot Print
    • High Performance Edge Compute
    • Flexibility and Ease of Scale Out

Thoughts and Further Reading

I’ve written enthusiastically about composable infrastructure in the past, and it’s an approach to infrastructure that continues to fascinate me. I love the idea of being able to move pools of resources around the DC based on workload requirements. This isn’t just moving VMs to machines that are bigger as required (although I’ve always thought that was cool). This is moving resources to where they need to be. We have the kind of interconnectivity technology available now that means we don’t need to be beholden to “traditional” x86 server architectures. Of course, the success of this approach is in no small part dependent on the maturity of the organisation. There are some workloads that aren’t going to be a good fit with composable infrastructure. And there are going to be some people that aren’t going to be a good fit either. And that’s fine. I don’t think we’re going to see traditional rack mount servers and centralised storage disappear off into the horizon any time soon. But the possibilities that composable infrastructure present to organisations that have possibly struggled in the past with getting the right resources to the right workload at the right time are really interesting.

There are still a small number of companies that are offering composable infrastructure solutions. I think this is in part because it’s viewed as a niche requirement that only certain workloads can benefit from. But as companies like Liqid are demonstrating, the technology is maturing at a rapid pace and, much like our approach to on-premises infrastructure versus the public cloud, I think it’s time that we take a serious look at how this kind of technology can help businesses worry more about their business and less about the resources needed to drive their infrastructure. My friend Max wrote about Liqid last year, and I think it’s worth reading his take if you’re in any way interested in what Liqid are doing.

Dell Announces Dell Technologies Cloud (Platforms and DCaaS)

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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.

Dell Technologies recently announced their Dell Technologies Cloud Platforms and Dell Technologies DCaaS offerings and I thought I’d try and dig in a little more to the announcements here.



[image courtesy of Dell Technologies]

Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service (DTC DCaaS) is all about “bringing public cloud simplicity to your DCs”. So what do you get with this? You get:

  • Data residency and regulatory compliance;
  • Control over critical workloads;
  • Proximity of data with cloud resources;
  • Self-service resource provisioning;
  • Fully managed, maintained and supported; and
  • Increased developer velocity.

VMware Cloud on Dell

At its core, DTC DCaaS is built on VMware Cloud Foundation and Dell EMC VxRail. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is “cloud infrastructure installed on-premises in your core and edge data centres and consumed as a cloud service”.

[image courtesy of Dell Technologies]

  • Cloud infrastructure delivered as-a-service on-premises
  • Co-engineered and delivered by Dell Technologies; ongoing service fully managed by VMware
  • VMware SDDC including compute, storage and networking
  • Built on VxRail – Dell EMC’s enterprise-grade cloud platform
  • Hybrid cloud control plane to provision and monitor resources
  • Monthly subscription model

How Does It Work?

  • Firstly, you sign into the VMware Cloud service account to create an order. Dell Technologies will then deliver and install your new cloud infrastructure in your core or edge DC location.
  • Next, the system will self-configure and register with VMware Cloud servers, so you can immediately begin provisioning and managing workloads with VMware’s hybrid cloud control plane.

Moving forward the hardware and software is fully managed, just like your public cloud resources.

Speeds And Feeds 

As I understand it there are two configuration options: DC and Edge. The DC configuration is as follows:

  • 1x 42U APC NetShelter rack
  • 4 – 15x E560 VxRail Nodes
  • 2x S5248FF 25GbE ToR Switches, OS10EE
  • 1x S3048 1GbE Management Switch, OS9EE
  • 2x VeloCloud 520
  • 6X Single-phase 30 AMP PDU
  • No UPS option

The Edge Location configuration is as follows:

  • 1x 24U APC NetShelter rack
  • 3 – 6x E560 VxRail Nodes
  • 2X S4128F 10GbE ToR Switches, OS10EE
  • 1X S3048-ON 1GbE Management Switch, OS9EE
  • 2x VeloCloud 520
  • 2x Single-phase 30 AMP PDU
  • 2x UPS with batteries for 30 min hold-up time for 6X E560F


Thoughts And Further Reading

I haven’t explained it very clearly in this article, but there are two parts to the announcement. There’s the DTC Platforms announcement, and the DTC DCaaS announcement. You can read a slightly better explanation here, but the Platforms announcement is VCF on VxRail, and VMware Cloud on AWS. DTC DCaaS, on the other hand, is kit delivered into your DC or Edge site and consumed as a managed service.

There was a fair bit of confusion when I spoke to people at the show last week about what this announcement really meant, both for Dell Technologies and for their customers. At the show last year, Dell was bullish on the future of private cloud / on-premises infrastructure. It seems apparent, though, that this kind of announcement is something of an admission that Dell has customers that are demanding a little more activity when it comes to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions.

Dell’s ace in the hole has been (since the EMC merger) the close access to VMware that they’ve enjoyed via the portfolio of companies. It makes sense that they would have a story to tell when it comes to VMware Cloud Foundation and VMware Cloud on AWS. The box slingers at Dell EMC are happy because they can still sell VxRail appliances for use with the DCaaS offering. I’m interested to see just how many customers take up Dell on their vision of seamless integration between on-premises and public cloud workloads.

The public cloud vendors will tell you that eventually (in 5, 10, 20 years?) every workload will be “cloud native”. I think it’s more likely that we’ll always have some workloads that need to remain on-premises. Not necessarily because they have performance requirements that require that level of application locality, but rather because some organisations will have security requirements that will dictate where these workloads live. I think the shelf life of something like VMConAWS is still more limited than some people will admit, but I can see the need for stuff like this.

My only concern is that the DTC story can be complicated to tell in places. I’ve spent some time this week and last digging in to this offering, and I’m not sure I’ve explained it terribly well at all. I also wonder how the organisations (Dell EMC and VMware) will work together to offer a cohesive offering from a technology and support perspective. Ultimately, these types of solutions are appealing because companies want to focus on their core business, rather than operating as a poorly resourced IT organisation. But there’s no point entering in to these kinds of agreements if the vendor can’t deliver on their vision. “Fully managed services” mean different things to different vendors, so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out in the market.

Dell Technologies Cloud Data Center-as-a-Service, delivered as VMware Cloud on Dell EMC with VxRail, is currently is available in beta deployments with limited customer availability planned for the second half of 2019. You can read the solution overview here.

Dell EMC Announces PowerProtect Software (And Hardware)

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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.

Last week at Dell Technologies World there were a number of announcements made regarding Data Protection. I thought I’d cover them here briefly. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to dive a little deeper into the technology in the next few weeks.


PowerProtect Software

The new PowerProtect software is billed as Dell EMC’s “Next Generation Data Management software platform” and provides “data protection, replication and reuse, as well as SaaS-based management and self-service capabilities that give individual data owners the autonomy to control backup and recovery operations”. It currently offers support for:

  • Oracle;
  • Microsoft SQL;
  • VMware;
  • Windows Filesystems; and
  • Linux Filesystems.

More workload support is planned to arrive in the next little while. There are some nice features included, such as automated discovery and on-boarding of databases, VMs and Data Domain protection storage. There’s also support for tiering protection data to public cloud environments, and support for SaaS-based management is a nice feature too. You can view the data sheet here.


PowerProtect X400

The PowerProtect X400 is being positioned by Dell EMC as a “multi-dimensional” appliance, with support for both scale out and scale up expansion.

There are three “bits” to the X400 story. There’s the X400 cube, which is the brains of the operation. You then scale it out using either X400F (All-Flash) or X400H (Hybrid) cubes. The All-Flash version can be configured from 64 – 448TB of capacity, delivering up to 22.4PB of logical capacity. The Hybrid version runs from 64 – 384TB of capacity, and can deliver up to 19.2PB of logical capacity. The logical capacity calculation is based on “10x – 50x deduplication ratio”. You can access the spec sheet here, and the data sheet can be found here.

Scale Up and Out?

So what do Dell EMC mean by “multi-dimensional” then? It’s a neat marketing term that means you can scale up and out as required.

  • Scale-up with grow-in-place capacity expansion (16TB); and
  • Scale-out compute and capacity with additional X400F or X400H cubes (starting at 64TB each).

This way you can “[b]enefit from the linear scale-out of performance, compute, network and capacity”.



Dell EMC also announced that the Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) was being made available in an 8-24TB version, providing a lower capacity option to service smaller environments.


Thoughts and Further Reading

Everyone I spoke to at Dell Technologies World was excited about the PowerProtect announcement. Sure, it’s their job to be excited about this stuff, but there’s a lot here to be excited about, particularly if you’re an existing Dell EMC data protection customer. The other “next-generation” data protection vendors seem to have given the 800 pound gorilla the wakeup call it needed, and the PowerProtect offering is a step in the right direction. The scalability approach used with the X400 appliance is potentially a bit different to what’s available in the market today, but it seems to make sense in terms of reducing the footprint of the hardware to a manageable amount. There were some high numbers being touted in terms of performance but I won’t be repeating any of those until I’ve seen this for myself in the wild. The all-flash option seems a little strange at first, as this normally associated with data protection, but I think it’s competitive nod to some of the other vendors offering top of rack, all-flash data protection.

So what if you’re an existing Data Domain / NetWorker / Avamar customer? There’s no need to panic. You’ll see continued development of these products for some time to come. I imagine it’s not a simple thing for an established company such as Dell EMC to introduce a new product that competes in places with something it already sells to customers. But I think it’s the right thing for them to do, as there’s been significant pressure from other vendors when it comes to telling a tale of simplified data protection leveraging software-defined solutions. Data protection requirements have seen significant change over the last few years, and this new architecture is a solid response to those changes.

The supported workloads are basic for the moment, but a cursory glance through most enterprise environments would be enough to reassure you that they have the most common stuff covered. I understand that existing DPS customers will also get access to PowerProtect to take it for a spin. There’s no word yet on what the migration path for existing customers looks like, but I have no doubt that people have already thought long and hard about what that would look like and are working to make sure the process is field ready (and hopefully straightforward). Dell EMC PowerProtect Software platform and PowerProtect X400 appliance will be generally available in July 2019.

For another perspective on the announcement, check out Preston‘s post here.

Dell Technologies World 2019 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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 Technologies World 2019. 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 2 days of unpaid leave and 3 days paid to attend this conference.



I took a ride sharing service to Brisbane International Airport. I had some sausage and eggs in the Qantas Club before my flight. I flew Qantas economy class to LAX and then American Airlines to LAS. The flights were paid for by Dell Technologies. Plane food was consumed on the flight. It was a generally good experience, lack of sleep notwithstanding. I stayed at the Palazzo Hotel. This was covered by Dell Technologies as well. I took a taxi to the hotel. I’d been provided with some discount codes for a ride-sharing service by Dell Technologies, but faffing about with the app whilst I had limited WiFi didn’t really appeal.

On Sunday afternoon I headed down to Registration to pick up my conference badge. I also received a backpack, some random bits of paper from sponsors, an Intel eco-straw, a notepad, and a $25 discount card at the on-site store for being a Loyalty Member. We didn’t get a backpack last year, so that was nice.

A group of us had dinner at Grimaldi’s in the Palazzo. I had 2 Samuel Adams Unfiltered beers, and a variety of different pizzas. This was paid for by Stephen Foskett.



I had breakfast in the Media and Analyst lounge. This consisted of fruit, yoghurt, and coffee. I couldn’t bring myself to consume whatever it was that was lurking in the greasy paper they had stacked on one of the trays. At the first media briefing we all received an eco-straw in a little much that you could, theoretically, wear on your belt. You can read a bit more about Dell’s work on that sort of thing here.

I had lunch in the Media and Analyst lounge. This was coleslaw, red wine soaked chicken, vine-ripened tomatoes, and some bread.

I then scooted off to meet with Brandon Schaffer at Starbucks to discuss all things data protection. He kindly bought me a flat white. It wasn’t really like an Australian flat white, but it did the job. I then caught up with one of the good people at Dell EMC who look after me in my day job. Let’s call him Bill. He bought me 2 Perroni beers. I’m often amused how I seem to only catch up with people who live in the same country as me when I’m overseas.

I went back to the lounge in between sessions and grabbed a choc chip cookie to sustain me until dinner.

In the evening I went to the Media and Analyst welcome reception at LAVO. I had one Stella Artois beer there, along with some bruschetta, a small bite of pizza, and an alarming amount of shrimp. It was a nice venue, but heaving with people. From there I went to Yardbird Southern Table and Bar with Chris Evans and Enrico Signoretti. We met up with Stephen Foskett and Karen Lopez. I had 3 Tenaya Pilsner beers and some house fries. This was kindly covered by Stephen.



On Tuesday there was a tour of the Solutions Expo organised for media and analysts. They served breakfast beforehand, and I had a green chilli pork burrito, some melon and pineapple slices, and coffee. The burrito was surprisingly good. As I toured the expo, I picked up a reusable bag and some PowerProtect-badged sunscreen.

Lunch in the lounge was:

  • Shaved radicchio Belgium endive and wild arugula salad;
  • Roasted fillet of Branzino, English peas and braised fennel with lemon on a mint vinaigrette; and
  • Beef pot roast with crunchy vegetables in red wine demi.

It was really quite excellent.

I then headed over to Nutanix’s Xperience event at TAO. My primary motivation was to see Magic Johnson speak, and I was also keen to hear about what Nutanix had been up to. I had thought I might be too late to get in, but there seemed to be enough space for everyone. I had some shrimp and some bottled water. We all headed upstairs to be seated for the talk with Magic. Not a lot of people were sitting in the front row, so I sat there. It turned out to be a good move, as I was able to get a photo with the man himself.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, it’s worth listening. Besides the fact that I’ve been a Lakers fan since my youth, I found his perspective on business to be super interesting. And he was pretty good at telling tales about Larry Bird too. I also picked up some Nutanix-branded socks. Thanks to Nutanix for putting this on.

Back in the village I was given a Dell Luminaries Yeti 10oz Rambler. I did a quick whip around the Solution Expo in between meetings and picked up:

I went to the Royal Britannia for a few beers with Bill. I had the North Coast Brewing Co – Scrimshaw pilsner. I then went to dinner with a group of folks at the Grand Lux Cafe in the Palazzo. I had:

  • 2 Samuel Adams Boston Lager beers;
  • Crispy Calamari;
  • Bread;
  • Buffalo Chicken Bites;
  • Fried Pickles; and
  • Wood Grilled B.B.Q. Burger With Crisp Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Tempura Onion Rings, Pickles, Mustard and Special B.B.Q. Sauce

The burger was really quite good. Here’s a photo of how good it was.



Breakfast was in the lounge again. I had the:

  • English muffin, provolone, scrambled egg patty, chicken sausage patty and apple sage compote;
  • Vanilla yoghurt;
  • Coffee; and some
  • Artisanal meat and cheese.

Konnie gave me a Dell Technologies water bottle. One of those ones you can put additional things in with the water. Apparently cucumber is a popular option.

I had lunch at Treasure Island as part of the Tech Field Extra event. This was pretty decent fare as well, and I had:

  • Classic Caesar salad with croutons and fresh parmesan cheese;
  • Fafalle and Pesto Cream Sauce;
  • Pan-flashed Tilapia with Fried Capers and Lemon;
  • Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions; and
  • Fig-glazed pork loin, roasted peppers, spinach and rosemary jus.

During the three sessions I also helped myself to 2 coffees and a granola bar. Before dinner I had a Sapporo beer at the Players Lounge bar at the Encore. This was paid for by Enrico Signoretti. We had dinner at Wazuzu. I had a variety of sushi, some edamame and 2 Asahi beers. The food tasted great but the service was fairly slow. We split the bill evenly seven ways. I then randomly bumped into Bill again so we headed to Stripburger and Chicken for a few beers. I had 3 Pabst Blue Ribbon draught beers. This was covered by Bill.



On Thursday morning I had a late breakfast at Morels with Max Mortillaro. I had the smoked salmon eggs benedict, a cappuccino, and some orange juice. Max very kindly picked up the tab. I went to lunch with Bill at Bonito Michoacán. I had chicken sopes and a coke. I could barely finish half of it. We then visited the Las Vegas South Premium Outlets to do a spot of shopping and Bill dropped me at McCarran airport to start the trek home.

Dell EMC Announces Unity XT And More Cloudy Things

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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.


Dell EMC Unity XT

As part of their storage announcements this week, Dell EMC announced the new Unity XT. Here’s a photo of one from the show floor at Dell Technologies World.

There are two variants of Unity XT, and you can grab the All-Flash data sheet here, and the Hybrid data sheet here. The spec sheet for both flavours is here. There are 8 models in all, and the smallest one in hybrid and all-flash won’t support NVMe (to keep the cost down for smaller customers). I’m told the largest model will scale up to 1500 drives, with Dell EMC revisiting the kind of specs that they had with the VNX 7600 and 8000 range.

From an efficiency perspective, Dell EMC are claiming

  • Up to 5:1 data reduction
  • 85% system efficiency

Wait, what about performance? Dell EMC are telling me the Unity XT delivers up to:

  • 2x More Performance (IOPS)*
  • 75% Lower Latency**
  • 67% Faster performance than competition***

Like all performance claims, there are a few caveats:

  • *100% reads, 100% writes & mixed workload – compared to previous generation
  • ** @ 150K IOPS, 8K block size, 70/30 R/W ratio
  • *** Compared to leading vendor


Dell Storage and the Cloud

It’s a multi-cloud world. And Dell EMC have been working to make sure their involved in various cloud things, including:

  • Dell Technologies Cloud Platform (certified with Unity and PowerMax);
  • Cloud Data Services;
  • Cloud Connected Systems; and
  • Cloud Data Insights.

Dell Technologies Cloud Platform

This was a reasonably significant announcement, and I’ll be covering it in a separate article.


Cloud Data Services

Dell EMC are also offering a range of storage and protection data services available in the public cloud provider of your choice.

Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services

Dell EMC have announced that Early Access is coming soon for Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services Integrated with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for File.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

  • Ideal for HPC applications, analytics, media and entertainment, life sciences, etc.
  • Backed by enterprise SLAs
  • Pay-as-you-use pricing
  • Proactive monitoring, maintenance, and hardware life- cycle management

They’ve also announced that Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services is now available.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

  • Fast – High-speed, low latency connection to the cloud;
  • Trusted – Durable, persistent storage with up to 6-9’s availability and enterprise grade security; and
  • Flexible – Control your data with multi-cloud agility; Independently scale capacity and compute.


DR Services

The cool thing about cloud data services is that you can do cool things with them, such as using VMC on AWS for Automated Disaster Recovery

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

Dell EMC tell me it’s a:

  • Seamlessly integrated VMware environment;
  • Delivering automated DR operations;
  • With enterprise-grade, pay- as-you-go DRaaS;
  • You only pay for compute in the cloud when failover occurs; and
  • This gives you access to lower RPOs and RTOs

It’s a multi-cloud world though, so you can also access multiple cloud providers for Disaster Recovery.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

The benefits of this approach are numerous, including:

  • No secondary DC to manage;
  • Enterprise-grade infrastructure;
  • A Pay-as-you-go model;
  • Only pay for compute in the cloud in the event of a failure; and
  • Lower RPOs.

And it wouldn’t be multi-cloud capable if you couldn’t do other cool stuff like workload migration, analytics and more:

  • Flexible, multi-cloud support;
  • No vendor lock-in with data independent of the cloud;
  • Leverage cloud(s) of choice based on application needs;
  • Reduce risk with centralised, durable storage; and
  • Fast, low cost set up – no additional infrastructure to setup or manage.

Cloud Data Insights

Proactively monitor and manage infrastructure and data with intelligent cloud-based analytics. With CloudIQ you get access to a few neat things, including:

Predictive Modelling

  • Capacity Forecasting
  • Competing Workload Analysis

Accelerated Resolution

  • 3X Faster Insight
  • Performance Anomaly Detection

Broader Support

  • Primary Storage Portfolio
  • VMware
  • Connectrix
  • Isilon and PowerVault*

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

Dell EMC ClarityNow

  • Single pane of glass view of all file and object storage;
  • Accelerated scan and indexing of unstructured data;
  • High-speed search across heterogeneous storage;
  • Detailed reporting with chargeback views; and
  • Data mobility for self-service archive in cloud.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]


Thoughts and Further Reading

The Unity XT is an evolution of the Unity line, rather than a revolutionary array. Dell EMC are doing all the things you’d expect them to do with their midrange line, including improving performance and adding support for NVMe on most of the models. I imagine people still have questions about the breadth of Dell EMC’s storage portfolio, with a range of products available from Unity to SC to XtremIO to PowerMax. There’s also Isilon dominating the file options, and ECS delivering some interesting object capabilities. It’s clear there’s still some room for consolidation, but I think it’s smart that Dell EMC have stuck with the “portfolio company” line. Instead of having too many options, the idea is that they can see you exactly what you want. They are, after all, in the business of making money. And if people want to keep buying Compellent, then Dell EMC are going to keep selling it to them. At least in the near term.

The Cloud Data Services announcements are also interesting. I’ve seen plenty of those cloud-native folks question why you’d want something like Isilon running on GCP. But those people aren’t really the ones who’l’ benefit from these types of solutions. Rather, it’s the enterprise who’ve built up particular workloads that rely on file, but still need to shift some of those workloads to a public cloud provider. Remember, not every tech company goes out and builds products without having a user base that has asked for said products. Dell EMC are very much in the camp of not doing things without having a quantifiable appetite from the customer base.

I’m glad I don’t work in a job where I have to manage lots of storage devices anymore. Because I’m not so sure I’d like to do it on my mobile phone. But the ability to view the health of these devices via an app is appealing. Sure, you’re not going to necessarily want to use element managers on your phone, but whne you need to know that status of something without diving too deep, something like CloudIQ becomes super useful. As does the ability to see all of your devices in one place with ClarityNow.

I didn’t hear anything revolutionary in Dell EMC’s storage announcements this year, but they continue to stay the course, and they’re setting the scene for bigger things to come. For another perspective, you can read Max’s thoughts on the storage announcements here. I’m looking forward to digging in to what Dell Technologies Cloud really means, and hope to have something out on that in the next week or so.

Dell Technologies World 2019 – Wednesday General Session – Optimism and Happiness in the Digital Age – Rough Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers 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 Wednesday General Session at Dell Technologies World, titled “Optimism and Happiness in the Digital Age”. The panellists were:


Anxiety today?

AD: Change has been going in for a long time. It’s the pace of change, in every part of our lives. People are questioning what they’re going to do when things keep changing.

WIA: The investment that society has put in AI is much more than it has in human intelligence. We haven’t invested in humanity.

Tell us more about your company Will.

WIA: Marc Benioff pushed us to pivot a long time ago. We had a watch separate to a phone a while ago. Used to have to talk to the watch. Told them to focus on the software. Back in 2004. Did things like voice control. Getting it to be cross-domain. Natural language processing. Now they power Deutsche Telekom’s call centres in Austria, amongst others.

Brynn, can you tell us about your company?

BP: MIRROR is a mirror, and can stream in-home fitness things. We want to make it the third screen in your life. For interactive experiences. Using technology for fitness. You’ve leaned in to screens. The best technology gives you what you need, what you want, and what you can do. Use biometric data to tailor your program.

How many people are tracking their steps? That’s a great example of positive uses of technology. Allison, can you talk about AI? It concerns people when they gaze into the future.

AD: AI is not actually new. Combination of AI, data and compute power. Are we an optimist or are we a pessimist. We need to be pragmatic, responsible optimists. Any technology can be used for good, and used for bad. We use a lot of AI and ML to do our targeting in marketing. IF we only use the data from the past, we only target current customers. We want to expand our audience. So we have to think about the data sets that go into our models, This is human thought and governance going into what we do. Critical thinking and human oversight. Really big social problems – medicine done at scale.

Will, do you want to respond?

WIA: For a company, that’s great. Taking data and using AI to give you a path forward. But people and communities don’t have that. What’s coming tomorrow is a little more personal. Some other companies are accessing people’s free product. “I’m just a data point for them”. Doctor’s still ask you questions like where have you been? My phone knows that. My doctor doesn’t ask for my phone though. We need to have regulations on data, and AI. Government needs to catch up.

Will, you had a previous career. Music industry was hit hard by tech via file sharing.

WIA: Music is technology. The first Steve Jobs was Edison. The first iPod was a gramophone. That way of getting music was disrupted. More music is made today than there ever has. People aren’t getting rich like Lionel Richie any more. Maybe they will in the future. Music isn;’t all about money. Making your heart fell good, and letting other people feel that heart and joy. We need a new business model. There’s a lot of junk, but a lot of good stuff too. Music and VR is the space for dreamers and creators. It’s 1919. The industry hasn’t really blossomed yet.

Brynn, you’re a parent. You have a product that promotes screen time. Should that be limited?

BP: I think about quality more than quantity. We need to think about how tech can play a role in having a positive influence on our children. Inspire curiosity ..

AD: We need to think more about self-monitoring. We never allow our brains to get bored. When we do, we pick up our phones. Your mind never rests on a particular task. That prevents you from doing things like writing and creating music, for example.

Allison, what is the role of tech companies in building those kinds of monitors?

AD: So much of the conversation about tech is about media and social media. The writers are media professionals. There’s the role that companies have in social media, and the role we have in technology overall. Instagram are going to pilot diminishing the importance of likes in Canada. Some people think this is a bad thing, because they make money that way. Point of these technologies is to make a connection. We’re going to see increasing responsibility of media and governments. We try to do this too, in different areas.

Will, as a creator, how do use tech, but avoid being distracted while trying to do something?

WIA: Technology is not the only distraction. Boys and girls in high school. Drugs can be. The Kardashians are. You need to surround yourself with folks who share the same passion as you. You need to be mindful of the squad you select. We do dumb shit with smart phones. Some 18 – 21 year olds will create a new Facebook. They’re out-marketing the marketers. All in 15 – 30 seconds. The engagement is crazy.

Do you try to expressly carve out time from distractions?

BP: I try to set time for specific tasks. Focusing singularly on problems. It’s easy to blame the device.

Allison, are you doing this at Dell?

AD: When I talk about how are brains are wired, we don’t need to blame the device. It’s important to take personal responsibility. You need to have a conversation about not using phones at the dining table.

WIA: We people watch. If we were looking at the 60s, we’d judge them for having too much sex. Sluts and hos. “We don’t have phone sluts or phone hos”.

It’s a bit boring now to bring up government regulation. Do you have concerns for government breaking up big tech companies?

AD: What do you call it Will? “Idatity“? Creating some controls. California has different privacy laws compared to Europe or other US states. Worry about 1000s of different laws being in place to block productivity.

WIA: We live in America. The food isn’t the most healthy. The same company that regulates our drugs regulates our foods. We eat bad stuff then they give us pills. Bad for business. It should be about what’s good for people, not business.

Education. Technology is an important driver of the economy. Education hasn’t caught up yet though.

WIA: 11 years I’ve had a school where I’m from. Started with 65, now 700 kids. It’s hard to raise money for kids. It’s easy to raise money for AI though. That’s inhumane. That keeps me up at night. Why is it so hard to raise money for education?

Do you feel the education system is going to teach your child what they need to know?

BP: Optimistic answer. My 2yo favourite activity is taking tach and putting it back together. Excited to see my child engaging and exploring technology.

Allison, Dell hires a lot of people. Can you find enough engineers and programmers?

AD: Search for tech staff is hard. We have systemic issues in our education system. We need to focus on STEM, build the talent pool. Critical that we need to teach our children to engage in critical thinking. Teach our engineers to write, read, engage with other humans. Need them to think critically about what they ask the technology to work on. Kids don’t know how to talk to people.

WIA: I blame what we have on technology companies. If I ran FIFA, we makes sure there’s a World Cup every 4 years. They’re recruiting from a very young age. The Oscars make sure everyone is watching the red carpet. Acknowledge the makeup artists, the scriptwriters. The Grammies. There’s a shortage of jobs. We’re not inspiring kids to dream about that path. The tech companies need to pay so that every kid is dreaming of getting into tech.


BP: The ability to automate things that we need to do so we can do things we want to do

WIA: is it going to love me, and am I going to love it? Everyone picks up their dog, because the dog gives the illusion that it loves you. Will a robot do that because it knows everything about you? Is it going to love me too?

AD: The Cylon / Wall-E fight off. Cylons are bad, Wall-E is good. Which one will win.


AD: Already everywhere

WIA: Who owns my data when I’m going around pinging everything?

BP: Every day essentials made easier in a way that seamlessly integrates in my environment.

Genetic engineer?

BP: Pass.

WIA: Is the new rich. Humans born a certain way, and then the “super elite”. Data is currency now. Countries that will be poor in data, and countries that will be rich in data.

AD: I can see the possibility. Some of it is good – solving cancer. But I don’t want a girl, etc, that’s really scary.

WIA: I want to chop these legs off and join the Olympics. Now I want big breasts. You can do that now.

AD: Too much of the conversation is about the media. But it’s important too. After the Sri Lankan bombings, they shut down social media channels. Contributed to stopping some of the violence. But it’s scary. What do you think?

ES: Forums being used to propagate hate, there’s a need for some control. But it’s a first amendment issue too. It’s complicated.


Audience Q and A

Q: WE know there’s a correlation between fitness and happiness. But we’re all busy. Any tips?

BP: Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love. We’re always faced with a series of choices.

Q: Do you see technology as a way to not only celebrate diversity and eliminate biases we see? How does technology help us create respect for diversity? Do you see technology as a way to bring that forward?

AD: It absolutely can be, it’s whether you want to. It’s about the data sources you use. If you widen the source of information, you can solve the problem faster. You run into trouble if you apply the same processes to data that you already did, and don’t address the hidden bias.

BP: Social media is fundamentally a platform that enables everyone to be a story teller, and find their own community.

WIA: If tech could borrow from the world of music, and collaborate more. Music is all about collaboration. If we could be a bit more collaborative, diversity is solved.

Q: Is there anything that truly frightens you about tech?

AD: Tech can be used to bring out the best in humanity, and also used to inspire mass hatred. That’s why the emphasis I have on responsible and pragmatic is so important. We need to make sure we don’t pretend that the problems don’t exist. The truth is in the middle.

WIA: The technology doesn’t terrify me. People terrify me. The decisions we make, the hate we make, the divisions we create. Machines are machines. It’s not machines that made the Congo that way, or the hood has liquor stores and strip clubs near schools – that’s zoning. It’s people that scare me.

BP: The idea that innovation requires revolution. Over-emphasis on what we can do, rather than what the world needs.

Q: I grew up in a poor environment. When you gave back to the community, where did you start? And how did it progress?

WIA: 2008 – fresh off of what America felt like. On that Obama high. What’s next? Focus on the neighbourhood. Start where you come from. I went small with 65 kids at my school. It was $10 million over 9 years. How am I going to come up with that? It can be heart, passion, mentorship, not necessarily money. I’m going on 12 years now.

Q: Being a technology creator, are you worried about the dangers of AI in the future?

AD: We feel incredible responsibility about what we’re doing, and our role in steering humans. Focusing technology on stuff that isn’t a real problem. Let’s focus on eradicate poverty, not how to deliver burritos faster.

AD closes by thanking the panellists. “Don’t be a phone ho”.

Entertaining session. 4 stars.