Dell EMC, DevOps, And The World Of Infrastructure Automation

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 19.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. 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 recently presented at Storage Field Day 19. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

Silos? We Don’t Need No Silos

The data centre is changing, as is the way we manage it. There’s been an observable evolution of the applications we run in the DC and a need for better tools. The traditional approach to managing infrastructure, with siloed teams of storage, network, and compute administrators, is also becoming less common. One of the key parts of this story is the growing need for automation. As operational organisations in charge of infrastructure and applications, we want to:

  • Manage large scale operations across the hybrid cloud;
  • Enable DevOps and CI/CD models with infrastructure as code (operational discipline); and
  • Deliver self service experience.

Automation has certainly gotten easier, and as an industry we’re moving from brute force scripting to assembling pre-built modules.

 

Enablers for Dell EMC Storage (for Programmers)

REST

All of our automation Power Tools use REST

  • Arrays have a REST API
  • REST APIs are versioned APIs
  • Organised by resource for simple navigation

Secure

  • HTTPS, TLS 1.2 or higher
  • Username / password or token based
  • Granular RBAC

With REST, development is accelerated

 

Ansible for Storage?

Ansible is a pretty cool automation engine that’s already in use in a lot of organisations.

Minimal Setup

  • Install from yum or apt-get on a Linux server / VM
  • No agents anywhere

Low bar of entry to automation

  • Near zero programming
  • Simple syntax

 

Dell EMC and vRO for storage

VMware’s vRealize Orchestrator has been around for some time. It has a terrible name, but does deliver on its promise of simple automation for VMware environments.

  • Plugins allow full automation, from storage to VM
  • Easily integrated with other automation tools

The cool thing about the plugin is that you can replace homegrown scripts with a pre-written set of plugins fully supported by Dell EMC.

You can also use vRO to implement automated policy based workflows:

  • Automatic extension of datastores;
  • Configure storage the same way every time; and
  • Tracking of operations in a single place.

vRO plugs in to vRealize Automation as well, giving you self service catalogue capabilities along with support for quotas and roles.

What does the vRO plugin support?

Supported Arrays

  • PowerMax / VMAX All-Flash (Enterprise)
  • Unity (Midrange)
  • XtremIO

Storage Provisioning Operations

  • Adds
  • Moves
  • Changes

Array Level Data Protection Services

  • Snapshots
  • Remote replication

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

DevOps means a lot of things to a lot of people. Which is a bit weird, because some smart folks have written a handbook that lays it all out for us to understand. But the point is that automation is a big part of what makes DevOps work at a functional level. The key to a successful automation plan, though, is that you need to understand what you want to automate, and why you want to automate it. There’s no point automating every process in your organisation if you don’t understand why you do that process in the first place.

Does the presence of a vRO plugin mean that Dell EMC will make it super easy for you to automate daily operations in your storage environment? Potentially. As long as you understand the need for those operations and they’re serving a function in your organisation. I’m waffling, I know, but the point I’m attempting to make is that having a tool bag / shed / whatever is great, and automating daily processes is great, but the most successful operations environments are mature enough to understand not just the how but the why. Taking what you do every day and automating it can be a terrifically time-consuming activity. The important thing to understand is why you do that activity in the first place.

I’m really pleased that Dell EMC has made this level of functionality available to end users of its storage platforms. Storage administration and operations can still be a complicated endeavour, regardless of whether you’re a storage administrator comfortably ensconced in an operational silo, or one of those cool site reliability engineers wearing jeans to work every day and looking after thousands of cloud-native apps. I don’t think it’s the final version of what these tools look like, or what Dell EMC want to deliver in terms of functionality, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Dell EMC Isilon – Cloudy With A Chance Of Scale Out

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 19.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. 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 recently presented at Storage Field Day 19. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

It’s A Scaling Thing

Unbounded Scaling

One of the key features of the Isilon platform has been its scalability. OneFS automatically expands the filesystem across additional nodes. This scalability is impressive, and the platform has the ability to linearly scale both capacity and performance. It supports up to 252 nodes, petabytes of capacity and millions of file operations. My favourite thing about the scalability story, though, is that it’s non-disruptive. Dell EMC says it takes less than 60 seconds to add a node. That assumes you’ve done a bit of pre-work, but it’s a good story to tell. Even better, Isilon supports automated workload rebalancing – so your data is automatically redistributed to take advantage of new nodes when they’re added.

One Filesystem

They call it OneFS for a reason. Clients can read / write from any Isilon node, and client connections are distributed across cluster. Each file is automatically distributed across the cluster. This means that the larger the cluster, the better the efficiency and performance is. OneFS is also natively multi-protocol – clients can read / write same data over multiple protocols.

Always-on

There are some neat features in terms of resiliency too.

  • The cluster can sustain multiple failures with no impact – no impact for failures of up to 4 nodes or 4 drives in each pool
  • Non-disruptive tech refresh – non-disruptively add, remove or replace nodes in the cluster
  • No dedicated spare nodes or drives – better efficiency as no node or drive is unused

There is support for an ultra dense configuration: 4 nodes in 4U, offering up to 240TB raw per RU.

 

Comprehensive Enterprise Software

  • SmartDedupe and Compression – storage efficiency
  • SmartPools – Automated Tiering
  • CloudPools – Cloud tiering
  • SmartQuotas – Thin provisioning
  • SmartConnect – Connection rebalancing
  • SmartLock – Data integrity
  • SnapshotIQ – Rapid Restore
  • SyncIQ – Disaster Recovery

Three Approaches to Data Reduction

  1. Inline compression and deduplication
  2. Post-process deduplication
  3. Small file packing

Configurable tiering based on time

  • Policy based tiering at file level
  • Transparent to clients / apps

 

Other Cool Stuff

SmartConnect with NFS Failover

  • High Availability
  • No RTO or RPO

SnapshotIQ

  • Very fast file recovery
  • Low RTO and RPO

SyncIQ via LAN

  • Disk-based backup and business continuity
  • Medium RTO and RPO

SyncIQ via WAN

  • Offsite DR
  • Medium – high RTO and RPO

NDMP Backup

  • Backup to tape
  • FC backup accelerator
  • Higher RTO and RPO

Scalability

Key Features

  • Support for files up to 16TB in size
  • Increase of 4X over previous versions

Benefits

  • Support applications and workloads that typically deal with large files
  • Use Isilon as a destination or temporary staging area for backups and database

 

Isilon in the Cloud

All this Isilon stuff is good, but what if you want to leverage those features in a more cloud-friendly way? Dell EMC has you covered. There’s a good story with getting data to and from the major public cloud providers (in a limited amount of regions), and there’s also an interesting solution when it comes to running OneFS in the cloud itself.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

If you’re familiar with Isilon, a lot of what I’ve covered here wouldn’t be news, and would likely be a big part of the reason why you might even be an existing customer. But the OneFS in the public cloud stuff may come as a bit of a surprise. Why would you do it? Why would you pay over the odds to run appliance-like storage services when you could leverage native storage services from these cloud providers? Because the big public cloud providers expect you to have it all together, and run applications that can leverage existing public cloud concepts of availability and resiliency. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, and many enterprises find themselves lifting and shifting workloads to public clouds. OneFS gives those customers access to features that may not be available to them using the platform natively. These kinds of solutions can also be interesting in the verticals where Isilon has traditionally proven popular. Media and entertainment workloads, for example, often still rely on particular tools and workflows that aren’t necessarily optimised for public cloud. You might have a render job that you need to get done quickly, and the amount of compute available in the public cloud would make that a snap. So you need storage that integrates nicely with your render workflow. Suddenly these OneFS in X Cloud services are beginning to make sense.

It’s been interesting to watch the evolution of the traditional disk slingers in the last 5 years. I don’t think the public cloud has eaten their lunch by any means, but enterprises continue to change the way they approach the need for core infrastructure services, across all of the verticals. Isilon continues to do what it did in the first place – scale out NAS – very well. But Dell EMC has also realised that it needs to augment its approach in order to keep up with what the hyperscalers are up to. I don’t see on-premises Isilon going away any time soon, but I’m also keen to see how the product portfolio develops over the next few years. You can read some more on OneFS in Google Cloud here.

Random Short Take #26

Welcome to my semi-regular, random news post in a short format. This is #26. I was going to start naming them after my favourite basketball players. This one could be the Korver edition, for example. I don’t think that’ll last though. We’ll see. I’ll stop rambling now.

Random Short Take #24

Want some news? In a shorter format? And a little bit random? This listicle might be for you. Welcome to #24 – The Kobe Edition (not a lot of passing, but still entertaining). 8 articles too. Which one was your favourite Kobe? 8 or 24?

  • I wrote an article about how architecture matters years ago. It’s nothing to do with this one from Preston, but he makes some great points about the importance of architecture when looking to protect your public cloud workloads.
  • Commvault GO 2019 was held recently, and Chin-Fah had some thoughts on where Commvault’s at. You can read all about that here. Speaking of Commvault, Keith had some thoughts as well, and you can check them out here.
  • Still on data protection, Alastair posted this article a little while ago about using the Cohesity API for reporting.
  • Cade just posted a great article on using the right transport mode in Veeam Backup & Replication. Goes to show he’s not just a pretty face.
  • VMware vFORUM is coming up in November. I’ll be making the trip down to Sydney to help out with some VMUG stuff. You can find out more here, and register here.
  • Speaking of VMUG, Angelo put together a great 7-part series on VMUG chapter leadership and tips for running successful meetings. You can read part 7 here.
  • This is a great article on managing Rubrik users from the CLI from Frederic Lhoest.
  • Are you into Splunk? And Pure Storage? Vaughn has you covered with an overview of Splunk SmartStore on Pure Storage here.

Brisbane VMUG – August 2019

hero_vmug_express_2011

The August edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 20th August at Fishburners from 4 – 6pm. It’s sponsored by Dell EMC and should to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Presentation: TBA
  • Dell EMC Presentation: Protecting Your Critical Assets With Dell EMC
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments and drinks.

Dell EMC have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about their data protection portfolio. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

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)

 

Event-Related

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

 

Conclusion

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”.

 

Dell EMC ECS

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

Security

  • 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.

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”.

 

IDPA

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.

 

Sunday

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.

 

Monday

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.

 

Tuesday

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.

 

Wednesday

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.

 

Thursday

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.