Dell EMC News From VMworld US 2018

I’m not at VMworld US this year, but I had the opportunity to be briefed by Sam Grocott (Dell EMC Cloud Strategy) on some of Dell EMC‘s key announcements during the event, and thought I’d share some of my rough notes and links here. You can read the press release here.

TL;DR?

It is a multi-cloud world. Multi-cloud requires workload mobility. The market requires a consistent experience between on-premises and off-premises. Dell EMC are doing some more stuff around that.

 

Cloud Platforms

Dell EMC offer a number of engineered systems to run both IaaS and cloud native applications.

VxRail

Starting with vSphere 6.7, Dell EMC are saying they’re delivering “near” synchronous software releases between VMware and VxRail. In this case that translates to a less than 30 Day delta between releases. There’s also support for:

VxRack SDDC with VMware Cloud Foundation

  • Support for latest VCF releases – VCF 2.3.2, and future proof for next generation VMware cloud technologies
  • Alignment with VxRail hardware options – P, E, V series VxRail models, now including Storage Dense S-series
  • Configuration flexibility

 

Cloud-enabled Infrastructure

Focus is on the data

  • Cloud data mobility;
  • Cloud data protection;
  • Cloud data services; and
  • Cloud control.

Cloud Data Protection

  • DD Cloud DR – keep copies of VM data from on-premises DD to public cloud and orchestrate failover of workloads to the cloud
  • Data Protection Suite – use cloud storage for backup and retention
  • Cloud Snapshot Manager – Backup and recovery for public cloud workloads (Now MS Azure)
  • Data Domain virtual edition running in the cloud

DD VE 4.0 Enhancements

  • KVM support added for DD VE on-premises
  • In-cloud capacity expanded to 96TB (was 16TB)
  • Can run in AWS, Azure and VMware Cloud

Cloud Data Services

Dell EMC have already announced services such as:

And now you can get Dell EMC UnityVSA Cloud Edition.

UnityVSA Cloud Edition

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

  • Up to 256TB file systems
  • VMware Cloud on AWS

CloudIQ

  • No cost, SaaS offering
  • Predictive analytics – intelligently project capacity and performance
  • Anomaly detection – leverage ML to pinpoint deviations
  • Proactive health – identify risks before they impact the environment

Enhancements include:

Data Domain Cloud Tier

There are some other Data Domain related enhancements, including new AWS support (meaning you can have a single vendor for Long Term Retention).

ECS

ECS enhancements have also been announced, with a 50%+ increase in storage capacity and compute.

 

Thoughts

As would be expected from a company with a large portfolio of products, there’s quite a bit happening on the product enhancement front. Dell EMC are starting to get that they need to be on-board with those pesky cloud types, and they’re also doing a decent job of ensuring their private cloud customers have something to play with as well.

I’m always a little surprised by vendors offering “Cloud Editions” of key products, as it feels a lot like they’re bolting on something to the public cloud when the focus could perhaps be on helping customers get to a cloud-native position sooner. That said, there are good economic reasons to take this approach. By that I mean that there’s always going to be someone who thinks they can just lift and shift their workload to the public cloud, rather than re-factoring their applications. Dell EMC are providing a number of ways to make this a fairly safe undertaking, and products like Unity Cloud Edition provide some nice features such as increased resilience that would be otherwise lacking if the enterprise customer simply dumped its VMs in AWS as-is. I still have hope that we’ll stop doing this as an industry in the near future and embrace some smarter ways of working. But while enterprises are happy enough to spend their money on doing things like they always have, I can’t criticise Dell EMC for wanting a piece of the pie.

Dell EMC Announces IDPA DP4400

Dell EMC announced the Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) at Dell EMC World in May 2017. They recently announced a new edition to the lineup, the IDPA DP4400. I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Reichwein about it and thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.

 

The Announcement

Overview

One of the key differences between this offering and previous IDPA products is the form factor. The DP4400 is a 2RU appliance (based on a PowerEdge server) with the following features:

  • Capacity starts at 24TB, growing in increments of 12TB, up to 96TB useable. The capacity increase is done via licensing, so there’s no additional hardware required (who doesn’t love the golden screwdriver?)
  • Search and reporting is built in to the appliance
  • There are Cloud Tier (ECS, AWS, Azure, Virtustream, etc) and Cloud DR options (S3 at this stage, but that will change in the future)
  • There’s the IDPA System Manager (Data Protection Central), along with Data Domain DD/VE (3.1) and Avamar (7.5.1)

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

It’s hosted on vSphere 6.5, and the whole stack is referred to as IDPA 2.2. Note that you can’t upgrade the components individually.

 

Hardware Details

Storage Configuration

  • 18x 12TB 3.5″ SAS Drives (12 front, 2 rear, 4 mid-plane)
    • 12TB RAID1 (1+1) – VM Storage
    • 72TB RAID6 (6+2) – DDVE File System Spindle-group 1
    • 72TB RAID6 (6+2) – DDVE File System Spindle-group 2
  • 240GB BOSS Card
    • 240GB RAID1 (1+1 M.2) – ESXi 6.5 Boot Drive
  • 1.6TB NVMe Card
    • 960GB SSD – DDVE cache-tier

System Performance

  • 2x Intel Silver 4114 10-core 2.2GHz
  • Up to 40 vCPU system capacity
  • Memory of 256GB (8x 32GB RDIMMs, 2667MT/s)

Networking-wise, the appliance has 8x 10GbE ports using either SFP+ or Twinax. There’s a management port for initial configuration, along with an iDRAC port that’s disabled by default, but can be configured if required. If you’re using Avamar NDMP accelerator nodes in your environment, you can integrate an existing node with the DP4400. Note that it supports one accelerator node per appliance.

 

Put On Your Pointy Hat

One of the nice things about the appliance (particularly if you’ve ever had to build a data protection environment based on Data Domain and Avamar) is that you can setup everything you need to get started via a simple to use installation wizard.

[image courtesy of Dell EMC]

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

I talked to Steve about what he thought the key differentiators were for the DP4400. He talked about:

  • Ecosystem breadth;
  • Network bandwidth; and
  • Guaranteed dedupe ratio (55:1 vs 5:1?)

He also mentioned the capability of a product like Data Protection Central to manage an extremely large ROBO environment. He said these were some of the opportunities where he felt Dell EMC had an edge over the competition.

I can certainly attest to the breadth of ecosystem support being a big advantage for Dell EMC over some of its competitors. Avamar and DD/VE have also demonstrated some pretty decent chops when it comes to bandwidth-constrained environments in need of data protection. I think it’s great the Dell EMC are delivering these kinds of solutions to market. For every shop willing to go with relative newcomers like Cohesity or Rubrik, there are plenty who still want to buy data protection from Dell EMC, IBM or Commvault. Dell EMC are being fairly upfront about what they think this type of appliance will support in terms of workload, and they’ve clearly been keeping an eye on the competition with regards to usability and integration. People who’ve used Avamar in real life have been generally happy with the performance and feature set, and this is going to be a big selling point for people who aren’t fans of NetWorker.

I’m not going to tell you that one vendor is offering a better solution than the others. You shouldn’t be making strategic decisions based on technical specs and marketing brochures in any case. Some environments are going to like this solution because it fits well with their broader strategy of buying from Dell EMC. Some people will like it because it might be a change from their current approach of building their own solutions. And some people might like to buy it because they think Dell EMC’s post-sales support is great. These are all good reasons to look into the DP4400.

Preston did a write-up on the DP4400 that you can read here. The IDPA DP4400 landing page can be found here. There’s also a Wikibon CrowdChat on next generation data protection being held on August 15th (2am on the 16th in Australian time) that will be worth checking out.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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 2018, 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 Technologies World 2018 – Dell EMC Announces PowerMax

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Dell EMC Announces XtremIO Enhancement and PowerEdge Updates

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Dell EMC (H)CI Updates

 

Event-Related

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

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Monday General Session – The Engines Of Human Progress – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Meet the Chairman – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Tuesday General Session – Power Up To Make IT Real – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Wednesday General Session – Technologies & Trends That Are Changing The World – Rough Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.13 – XtremIO X2 Native Replication: Use Cases, Architecture and Best Practices Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.38 – Dell EMC Unity: Performance Best Practices Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.27 – Isilon: What’s New in 2018 & Future Directions Notes

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.12 – XtremIO X2: An Architectural Deep Dive Notes

 

Dell Technologies Announcements

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

Michael Dell Kicks Off Dell Technologies World 2018

Dell Technologies Updates VDI Complete Solutions and Unveils its Most Versatile Thin Client Ever

Dell Technologies Makes Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Real

Dell Technologies Accelerates Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Portfolio Growth; Simplifies Path to VMware-based Clouds

Dell Technologies Powers Up Performance and Efficiency for the Modern Data Center

Dell Technologies Powers Up the Modern Data Center and Future of Work

Dell Technologies and Microsoft Collaborate to Help Customers Simplify Delivery of IoT Solutions

 

Conclusion

I had a busy but enjoyable week. I would have liked the get to more of the technical sessions, but being given access to some of the top executives in the company via the Press, Media and Influencers program was invaluable. You might have also noticed that the product announcements weren’t as abundant as in previous years. People inside Dell Technologies tell me this is because there’s been a lot more focus on making sure things are working before they announce (or ship) products. Thanks again to Dell Technologies (particularly Debbie Friez and Konnie) for having me along to the show. Now, please enjoy this picture of my good friend Jon Klaus at the Customer Appreciation Party.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.12 – XtremIO X2: An Architectural Deep Dive Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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 storage.12 session. This was presented by Rami Katz and Zvi Schneider, and covered XtremIO X2: An Architectural Deep Dive.

XtremIO X2

Efficiency

  • 4x better rack density
  • 1/3 effective price $/GB
  • Multi-dimensional scaling
  • 25% DRR enhancements

Protection

  • NVRAM
  • Expanded iCDM capabilities
  • QoS
  • Metadata-aware replication

Performance

  • 80% lower application latency
  • 2x better copy operations
  • Hardware

Simplicity

  • Simple HTML5 GUI
  • Intelligent reporting and troubleshooting
  • Guided workflows

 

Software-driven architecture driving efficiency and performance

Brute force approach limits enhancements (eg faster chips, more cores). With this approach you can average 20 – 30% performance improvement every year to 18 months. You need to have software innovation.

 

XtremIO Content Addressable Storage (CAS) Architecture

The ability to move data quickly and efficiently using metadata indexing to reduce physical data movement within the array, between XtremIO arrays or between XtremIO and other arrays / the cloud (not in this release).

 

XtremIO In-line, all-the-time data services

  • Thin provisioning – all volumes thin; optimised for data saving
  • Deduplication – inline – block written once, no post-process
  • Compression – inline – compressed blocks only, no post-process
  • XtremIO Virtual Copies – super efficient – in-memory metadata copy
  • D@RE – Always on encryption with no performance impact
  • XtremIO Data Protection – Single “RAID Model” double parity w/ 84% useable

 

XtremIO Virtual Copies (XVC)

  • Performance – read, write and latency as volume
  • Space efficient – no metadata bloat, no space reservation, no moving blocks
  • In-memory – instant creation, immediate deletion, flexible topology, unrestricted refresh
  • Flash optimised – identical data services, always on, always inline

 

Efficiency

  • X2: All the goodness at 1/3 the GBu price of X1
  • X1: High WPD SSD
  • X2: Low WPD (write per day), 4x denser DAE = greater economies of scale

In X1 as you grow capacity, $/GB is the same, in X2 it gets less as capacity increases

 

Better Controller Cost Amortisation

  • X1 – 40TB in 6RU
  • X2 – 138TB in 4RU
  • X2 (Future) – 230TB in 4RU

 

Multi-dimensional Scaling, Hardware Platform and Improved scaling granularity 

  • X2 – up to 72 drives, start with 18, go up in increments of 6 (138TB RAW per Brick). 4 Bricks of 550TB (effective 2.7PB assuming 6:1 data reduction). Scale up in X2 Platform.
  • Resilience – 2 simultaneous SSD failures per XDP group (36 drives)
  • Using an efficient compression algorithm – Intelligent packing algorithm, systems typically experience ~2-3:1 compression ratio

SQL example – even with native compression enabled get some additional array compression

 

Performance

  • 80% lower application latency
  • 2x better copy operations

Install base – over 65% of write Its are small <= 8KB

 

Write Flow – X1

Flow overview:

  • Write arrives
  • Find compute module
  • Calculate hash – read old data if needed
  • Send to data module
  • Harden data
  • Acknowledge host

 

Write Flow – X2 with Write Boost

Flow overview

  • Write arrives
  • Find compute module
  • Harden data
  • Acknowledge host

Huge latency improvement, mainly for small IOs

 

Write Flow – X2 De-Stage

  • Write transactions are aggregated, improving efficiency and bandwidth
  • Benefit from IO folding

 

Hardware and Models

X-Brick: X2S 7.2TB – 28.8TB – Cluster Building Block

  • 48 Haswell cores
  • 768GB RAM
  • 8 Host ports (2 16Gbps FC and 2 10Gbps iSCSI per controller)
  • Up to 72 SSDs

 

X-Brick: X2-R 34.5TB – 138.2TB – Cluster Building Block

  • 48 Haswell cores
  • 2TB RAM
  • 8 Host ports (2 16Gbps FC and 2 10Gbps iSCSI per controller)
  • Up to 72 SSDs

 

New X-Brick Configuration

Configuration X-Brick Minimum (RAW) X-Brick Maximum (RAW) Cluster Size in X-Bricks
X2-S 7.2TB 28.8TB Up to 4
X2-T 34.5TB 69.1TB 1*
X2-R 34.5TB 138.2TB 4 (current)

8 (future)

X2-T – If you think you’ll get to X2-R, it would be more cost effective to go to that straight away

 

Protection

NVRAM – People didn’t like the BBU, so they got that sorted for the X2.

 

NVRAM – Components Failure – Method of Operation

 

 

Xpanded iCDM Capabilities

  • 60% of all XtremIO Volumes are Copies – a large number of XVC copies are writeable
  • 10% of clusters > 500 writable copies
  • 5% of clusters > 1000 writable copies

Other iCDM Statistics

  • Average # of copies has doubled in X2 vs X1
  • 90% of XtremIO iCDM clusters use writable copies
  • Max 6700 writable copies per cluster
  • Average writable copies per volume -5 copies
  • Average copies per volume – 12 copies

2x the number of XVC copies

 

Metadata-aware Replication

A superior method for efficient data replication

  • Unique blocks only
  • Globally unique (not just at the volume / consistency group level)
  • Changes only
  • Compressed

 

Global Dedupe = Global Savings

Replication Use Cases

Unified view for local and remote protection

Easy Operation, Best Protection, Superior Performance

You can read more about XtremIO Native Replication here.

 

Simplicity

Redesigned User Interface

  • Simple and intuitive
  • 1-2-3 provisioning
  • Tagging and search
  • HTML5 (no Java)
    • Nothing to install
    • Popular browser support

 

Flexible provisioning flows – next step suggestions

 

New Reports

  • Weekly peaks
  • Latency heat map
  • Block distribution

“X2 evolves every frontier that X1 redefined”

 

Futures

Better iCDM with QoS

  • Max IOPS or Bandwidth for every volume or consistency group
    • Protect workloads based on importance e.g. critical applications and multi-tenant environments
  • Burst mode gracefully handles applications that temporarily exceed max IOPS

 

Q&A

Is synchronous replication on the roadmap? Give us a little time. It’s not coming this year. You could use VPLEX in the interim.

How about CloudIQ? CloudIQ support is coming in September

What about X1? It’s going end of sale for new systems. You can still expand clusters. Not sure about any buyback programs. You can keep X1 for years though. We give a 7 year flash guarantee.

X2 is sticking with InfiniBand and SAS, why not NVMe? Right now it’s expensive. We have it running in the labs. We’re getting improvements in software. Remember X2 came out 6 months ago. Can’t really talk too much more.

 

Solid session. 3.5 stars.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.27 – Isilon: What’s New in 2018 & Future Directions Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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 storage.27 session. This was presented by John Hayden, VP Software Engineering, Unstructured Data Storage, and covered Isilon: What’s New in 2018 & Future Directions. This is a futures session, so some of this may not come to pass exactly as it was described here, and there are no dates. The choice was to talk about dates, with no technical details, or talk technical details, but no dates. Option 2 made for a more entertaining session.

Momentum with Isilon – >3.5 EB shipped calendar year 2017

 

What’s new since DEW 2017?

What’s new since 2017?

  • Release of OneFS 8.1
  • New generation of Isilon hardware products
    • All-Flash
    • Hybrid
    • Archive
  • 3 year satisfaction guarantee

 

Isilon hardware design: compute

Features

  • 4 nodes in 4U chassis
  • Intel Broadwell CPU optimised compute to drive ratios
  • Up to 6TB cache per node
  • No single points of failure
  • Networking flexibility: InfiniBand, 10GbE / 40GbE

Benefits

  • 4:1 reduction in RU
  • Optimised IOPS and throughput
  • Future-proof, enduring design: Snap-in next-gen compute, networks
  • New levels of modular, hot-swappable serviceability

 

Isilon hardware design: storage

Features

  • From 72TB to 924TB in 4RU
  • 5 drive sleds per node. 3 to 6 drives per sled
  • Front aisle, hot swap sleds and drives
  • Media flexibility: Flash, SAS, and SATA media

The Isilon Family – mix of performance and capacity

 

Isilon OneFS Enhancements

  • Improved performance driven by software improvements enable new workloads
  • Updated support with leading analytics vendors like Cloudera and HortonWorks
  • New cloud tiering options along with multi-cloud support
  • Ethernet back-end infrastructure support
  • Improved handling of small files for healthcare PACS
  • IsilonSD Edge software defined storage now supported on PowerEdge servers along with vSAN and VxRail
  • Data in flight encryption for improved security

 

Behind the Scenes

Relentless focus on quality & customer experience

  • Isilon engineering organised into CX, 8.X & Innovation acceleration
  • Corporate Dell-wide quality standards and KPIs
  • Tremendous improvement in support and support capabilities
  • Code base in the field is 50% composed of releases in the last 18 months and that is continuing to dramatically accelerate

Results: explosive growth in 8.1 and Gen6 implementation

 

Isilon Pillars of Innovation

  • Flash
  • Archive – great integration with ECS
  • Cloud – cloud pools v1 is already out
  • Analytics – Nautilus, IoT – a lot sits on Isilon and ECS

 

Where we’re investing

Storage challenges

  • Rapid data growth
  • Data solos
  • Cost of infrastructure
  • Insufficient perf
  • Limited IT resources

 

Addressing data growth

Isilon Today

  • Scale-out architecture
  • Scales from 10s of TB to 50+ PB in a single cluster
  • 144 nodes maximum cluster size
  • Provision storage only as needed
  • Simplified management at PB scale
  • Automated tiering between storage tiers and cloud

Future

  • 250+ node cluster size and L/S
  • Cluster aware NDMP
  • Partitioned performance for insights
  • System services QoS
  • Rich filesystem analytics

 

Addressing Data silos

Isilon Today

  • Multi-protocol namespace ideal for infrastructure consolidation
  • Supports unified data lake
  • Enterprise grade features
  • Edge-to-core-to-cloud solution
  • In-place analytics support

Future

  • File and object integration – CloudPools 2 – snapshots will work, and quotas.
  • Increased support for emerging data analytics technologies including streaming analytics*

 

Addressing Infrastructure Cost

Isilon Today

  • Up to 80% storage efficiency
  • Optimised data placement and tiering
  • Flexible deduplication
  • Seamless cloud integration
  • Investment protection – no rip and replace

Future

  • Cloud co-location
  • Inline compression and dedupe for Flash
  • CloudPools v2 with tiering snaps and quotas
  • Writable snapshots

 

Addressing System Performance Needs

Isilon Today

  • OneFS optimised for Flash
  • New All-Flash configuration
  • 6x IOPS and 11x throughput
  • Optimised compute to drive ratios
  • Reduced latency / write optimisation

Future

  • Inline compression and dedupe for Flash
  • File create / delete improvements
  • Streaming improvements (multi-block reads, degraded reads)
  • Performance at scale (cluster, snaps, domains)
  • Large file size
  • Partitioned performance

 

Addressing Manageability Needs

Isilon Today

  • Simple to manage at any scale
  • Single file system
  • Policy based automation
  • Choice of management tools
  • API / web services “first” model

Future

  • On cluster and off cluster UI revolution – including next-generation cluster management technology
  • Cluster integrated authentication
  • Unchained delivery cadence and innovation posture
  • Predictive and prescriptive management

 

Addressing Data protection and security needs

Isilon Today

  • Enterprise data protection features
  • Tolerate up to 4 simultaneous failures
  • WORM, SEDs, RBAC, access zone, compliance
  • Improved failure domain with mirrored journal and boot drive
  • Improved handling of drive failure

Future

  • Multi-factor auth for SSH
  • RBAC per AZ
  • Secure protocols optimisations
  • Enhanced Federal support

 

“Simple is Smart” with Isilon

Simplicity

  • Single volume, single file system architecture

Scalability

  • Expands easily from 10s of TB to 10s of PB without disruption

Efficiency

  • Up to 80% storage utilisation
  • Automated tiering and cloud integration

Data Analytics

  • In-place, high performance data analytics

Data Protection

  • Highly resilient architecture, data replication and snapshots

Security and compliance

  • WORM, data at rest encryption, role-based access control, and more

 

Top session. 5 stars.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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 2018. This is by no stretch an interesting post from a technical perspective, but it’s a way for me to track and publicly disclose what I get and how it looks when I write about various things. I’m going to do this in chronological order, as that was the easiest way for me to take notes during the week. While everyone’s situation is different, I took 5 days of unpaid leave to attend this conference.

 

Saturday

My wife kindly dropped me off at BNE airport. I had some bacon 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 bumped into an old friend I hadn’t seen for quite a few years and we shared an Uber to the hotel and then went to lunch and dinner to try and fight off the jet lag. This was at our own expense.

 

Sunday

I mainly kicked around the hotel and had a reasonable burger at PBR Rockbar and Grill on the Strip.

 

Monday

Breakfast in the Press Lounge consisted of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and small hash browns. They also had tiny bottles of tabasco sauce that went pretty well with the eggs. I also had a mixed berry yoghurt, some cold meat and cheese, and some passable coffee. At the Media, Analysts and Influencers conference we were all given a Dell Technologies World / Intel co-branded d.stil water bottle that looks something like this.

For lunch I had a green salad, tomato and cucumber salad, red wine chicken and beans, NY sear steak and a small bread roll. I also grabbed a coffee and a homemade chocolate “whoopie” pie (yes, it’s apparently a thing). It’s basically some biscuit sized chocolate cake thing filled with ganache.

In the Luminaries Area in the Village, I grabbed a @theCUBE sticker from Stu for my laptop. I picked up a carry bag at the Solutions Expo during the opening reception. I then tailed Jon into a VMware NSX event at AquaKnox and had 2 plates of prawn and crab. They also had bacon which wasn’t burnt to a crisp. I headed up to the Media, Analysts and Influencers party at the Palazzo pool deck and had 2 Stella Artois beers.

We headed to Lotus of Siam for dinner in a taxi – this was covered by Tom Hollingsworth. At dinner I had 2 large Singha beers, some garlic prawns, and fried banana for desert. It was, as usual, delicious. The cost of dinner was covered by people from Rubrik, Datrium and Gestalt IT. After dinner we caught a Lyft back to the hotel. Tom covered this again.

 

Tuesday

I had a small flat white at Starbucks before breakfast courtesy of Ray Lucchesi. It’s nice to see flat white on the menu at Starbucks in America. It’s not quite like a real flat white though. In any case, it did the trick. The Solutions Expo was opened up to Media, etc for breakfast. I had a ham, egg and cheese croissant, and a yoghurt parfait with nuts and berries. The croissant was terrible, but you live and learn.

I had to skip lunch as a meeting I had ran over by 30 minutes and I didn’t have time to get anything before my next session. In the afternoon I passed by the Toshiba booth in the Solutions Expo and picked up a Toshiba-flavoured Greg Norman polo shirt. I then had a session and grabbed a coffee and a bag of peanut M & Ms from the press lounge.

Tuesday evening I went and found a Philly cheese steak place on the strip and retreated to my hotel room to watch the NBA Playoffs (Go Dubs!).

 

Wednesday

Breakfast in the press area was scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and small breakfast burritos. I also had some fruit and coffee. Lunch in the press area was lettuce salad and vinaigrette, 5 grain salad, basmati rice, chicken and baked salmon. It was actually pretty good.

I headed to the Solutions Expo after lunch to do a quick whip around of the booths. I picked up a shopping bag, a Cloudera t-shirt and “Data is the new bacon” sticker, an autographed Brocade SAN Automation book, and a Dell OptiPlex notebook. Konnie also very kindly gave me two Luminaries coffee mugs. We’ll see how they stand up to the baggage handlers on the way home. I grabbed a coffee and a small Hershey’s bar before heading in to a session.

I went to the Customer Appreciation Party held in the hall. I had 4 Stella Artois beers. I also had some Ricotta Cavatelli – tossed with lemon scented lobster, parmesan cream, finished with tomato concasse and asparagus tips. It was pasta on a cardboard plate, but I was hungry. I also had a Red Chili Braised Chicken Thigh mini street taco with spicy shredded cabbage and carrot slaw topped with Mexican crema in a flour tortilla. This wasn’t too bad either. I then spent too much time near the table with the artisan cheese platter, crackers, various cold meats, and chipotle chicken skewer with pearl onion and roasted pineapple, topped with creamy salsa verde.

Walk the Moon did a nice cover of Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Sting sounded good, if you’re into that kind of thing.

 

Thursday 

I had breakfast in the hall. This was a ham and cheese Croque-monsieur, mixed berry yoghurt, fruit and water. I grabbed a coffee on my way to my first session. I picked up a light Dell Technologies hoodie in the Village between sessions. Lunch was boxed. I had the roasted turkey club sandwich, with sliced turkey breast, crisp turkey bacon, dijon mayo, tomato and Bibb lettuce on a sourdough loaf. I also had the chocolate fudge brownie but left the apple, potato salad and potato chips. It was actually pretty good, considering it came in a box.

After the last session I headed to the LEGO Store and then grabbed my bags from the hotel and caught a taxi to the airport at my expense.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.38 – Dell EMC Unity: Performance Best Practices Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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 storage.38 session. This was presented by Stephen Wright and covered Dell EMC Unity: Performance Best Practices. Firstly, though, you should read Dell EMC’s Unity Best Practices Guide.

Dell EMC Midrange Family

SC Series and Dell EMC Unity

Common Tools

  • PowerPath
  • ViPR
  • VPLEX
  • RecoverPoint
  • Avamar and NetWorker
  • Data Domain

Industry’s #1 Midrange Portfolio

SC Series

  • Intelligent Efficiency
    • Post-process data reduction
  • Federated
    • Data mobility across multiple systems
  • Best economics
    • Low entry price
    • Lowest $/GB

Dell EMC Unity

  • Inline efficiency
    • Inline data reduction
  • Unified
    • Unified file and block data
  • Integrated hybrid cloud
    • Unified cloud tiering

Agenda

Background

  • What is Performance? What are “Best Practices”?
  • Evolution of storage best practices

Hardware

  • Unity All-Flash considerations
  • Unity Hybrid considerations

Features

  • Data reduction, snapshots, replication

 

Background

What is Performance?

“The ability to do the requested work in the required period of time”

  • IOPs (small transactions), MB/s (bulk data)
  • Latency and Response Time (Individual transactions)
  • Window, Job (Batch transactions)

What are Best Practices?

Configuration Guidance

  • Recommendations for options
  • Advice based o experience
  • Responsive to your application
  • Best behaviour for your needs

Evolution of Storage Best Practices

Unity Simplicity

  • Removes the need for detailed tweaking
  • Let the system do the right thing for you

Unified File and Block – same recommendations apply

  • One set of common guidance

Flash – changes the game for storage performance

  • Stress on other components

Quantum Leap of Flash

Recommended maximum IOPS per drive – don’t use these for sizing – these numbers are speed limits and are generally based on small-block random workloads.

  • NL-SAS – 150 IOPS
  • SAS 10K RPM – 250 IOPS
  • SAS 15K RPM – 350 IOPS
  • Flash – 20000 IOPS

The Flash Effect, and CPU utilisation

  • Flash is fast, and Dell EMC Unity can support hundreds of drives
  • Driving a lot of Flash can take a lot of CPU power
  • Provide best practices around CPU utilisation
Average CPU Utilisation Below 50% 50% to 70% 70% to 90% Above 90%
Latency Yes Yes Yes Caution
High Availability Yes Yes Caution No

Approaching Best Practices: AFA or Hybrid?

Hardware Considerations

  • All-Flash
    • Drives are most likely not a bottleneck
    • Focus on maximising other hardware resources
  • Hybrid
    • HDD performance can be determining factor
    • A little Flash can add a lot of capability

Features

  • Data reduction
  • Snapshots
  • Replication
  • Both block and file

CPU Power and Flash Considerations

With All-Flash, CPU becomes the driving factor

  • CPU power has largest impact on achievable performance
  • Memory has largest impact on scalability

As of 4.3 online data-in-place conversions now available

Balanced Access – Back-end SAS

At least use the two onboard

  • Maybe you also want the SAS expansion? (Up to 6 buses)

Largest impact is on bandwidth. Dell EMC advertise 5GB/s of bandwidth through the SAS bus.

Flash drives per bus recommendation? Take how ever many you have, and spread them across the buses you have

Balanced access – FC Ports

  • For HA, zone 1 initiator to 1 port from SPA, 1 port from SPB
  • For HA + load balancing, zone 2 ports per SP
  • Cable and use as many front-end ports as possible
  • We recommend at least 4 ports per SP in U3x0 and U4x0
  • At least 6 ports per SP in U5x0 and U6x0

Balanced Access – Unity File

  • Balance resource utilisation with file
    • Means multiple NAS Servers
    • Using multiple Ethernet ports (can leverage LACP)
    • Failsafe Networking (FSN)

Front-end port considerations

  • Speed is good – use faster ports when available
  • Understand port limits – consult best practices guide
  • Use more ports – better distribution across cores

Hybrid Considerations

  1. All previous considerations
  2. Size for HDD constraints
  3. Leverage Flash Tier, FAST VP
  4. Configure FAST Cache

FAST VP is at the pool level, FAST Cache is a global resource

 

Feature Considerations

Features Overview

In Dell EMC Unity, all system resources are always available

  • Architectural philosophy
  • CPUs are note reserved for any particular process

Features requires resources

  • Use additional CPU and may add drive IOPS
  • CPU cycles can shift as defined workload changes

e.g. RAID 6 may take a little more CPU than RAID 1/0. Same goes for Snapshots, data reduction and replication.

Decision Tree for Enabling Features

  • Understand that enabling a feature may increase CPU utilisation
  • This chart represents average CPU before implementing feature
Average CPU Utilisation Below 50% 50% to 70% 70% to 90% Above 90%
Snapshots / Replication Yes Yes Caution No
Data Reduction Yes Caution Caution No

 

Data Reduction

Prior to 4.3, offered compression

As of OE v4.3, deduplication has been added, and together these provide data reduction

Data reduction

  • Block and file objects
  • All-Flash pools
  • Enabled together
  • Automatically licensed

How does it work?

  • Data acknowledged in write cache
  • Check for patterns
  • Compress data if needed

Improved Performance

  • Reduced overhead when pattern is found
  • Code optimisations

Considerations

  • Latency impacts
  • CPU resource consumption
  • Refer to decision tree

Snapshots

  • Use less aggressive snapshot schedules (number of objects increases – decrease the snapshot schedule frequency)
  • Stagger snapshot schedules

Asynchronous replication

  • Leverages snapshots
    • Similar considerations
    • RPO = snapshot schedule
    • Longer RPOs with lots of replicated objects
  • Consider port capabilities
    • Multiple links per SP
    • Higher speed ports

Synchronous Replication

  • Real-time replication over FC link
  • Latency is key
  • Zone so that clients are not on the replication link

 

Summary

Appropriate Model

  • Choose the right model, based on CPU power
  • Online Data-in-place conversions to move to more powerful model
  • Consider differences between All-Flash and Hybrid

Enough Hardware

  • Have enough drives / enclosures / ports?
  • Utilise all ports

Flash Acceleration

  • Start with Flash
  • All-Flash
  • Flash tier (Hybrid)

Plan for features

  • Consider CPU consumption
  • Snapshot schedules
  • Replication RPOs

 

Useful session. 4 stars.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – storage.13 – XtremIO X2 Native Replication: Use Cases, Architecture and Best Practices Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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 storage.13 session. This was presented by Aharon Blitzer and Marco Abela and covered XtremIO X2 Native Replication.

 

Agenda

  • Benefits
  • Technical Overview
  • Demo
  • iCDM Integration and Demo
  • Ecosystem Integrations
  • Setup

 

Benefits

Replication is copying: it is also a copy data problem

Brute force leads to a forced tradeoff – RPO/RTO vs Cost

Existing Replication Solutions

  • All changes must be replicated
  • Arrays at both ends must transmit and receive all changed data
  • WAN bandwidth must be sized to account for all changed data
  • Many customers deploy WAN accelerators to reduce bandwidth

 

The XtremIO Difference: elegance, not brute force

  • New block written and deduped – Only finger print is replicated 
  • Only unique changes are replicated
    • Data is deduplicated at source, destination and the WAN
    • Unique blocks are sent compressed
  • Arrays at both ends transmit and receive only unique data, freeing their resources for other uses
  • WAN bandwidth should be sized to account for only globally unique changes
  • No need to deploy any WAN accelerators
  • Free up bandwidth for other applications

 

Global Dedupe = Global Savings

FAN in configuration of 4:1

 

Business benefits: free the WAN

  • Reuse the freed up WAN bandwidth for other workloads e.g. protect / replicate incrementally more workloads with the same WAN costs; or
  • Reduce WAN costs while still replicating at the same level of protection

 

Metadata-aware Replication

  • Easy Operation 
    • Uses XtremIO in-memory snapshots
    • Wizard based
    • Full operational disaster recovery 
  • Best Protection
    • RPO as low as 30 seconds
    • Sub-minute RTO
    • Up to 500 recovery points
    • “Fan-in” configuration
  • Superior Performance
    • Supports XtremIO High Performance
    • Efficient Metadata-aware replication
    • Efficient replication – compression aware

 

Technical Overview

XtremIO CAS (Content Aware Storage)

XtremIO X2 Inline data reduction in action – Inline deduplication that is fast and scalable

 

XtremIO Virtual Copies (XVC)

Traditional Snapshots

  • non-immediate operation
  • not space efficient
    • best case scenario: copy metadata
    • worst case scenario: copy metadata and block for block
  • Not same performance as source volume
    • negative impact performance of source volume

XtremIO Virtual Copies

  • immediate
  • space and metadata efficient
    • no copied metadata or data blocks
    • redirect-on-unique-write
  • no difference between regular volume and snapshot
    • 100% same performance as source
    • no performance degradation 

 

XVC vs Traditional snapshots

  • no impact on copy creation
  • consistent performance on prod and copy

 

X2 XtremIO XVC Snapshots

Unlimited Immediate copy operations

  • create copy from any copy
  • unlimited, immediate delete
  • unrestricted topology

Instant refresh of Virtual copies

  • prod to any copy
  • any copy to any copy
  • any copy to prod

 

Putting it all together 

Metadata Aware: Efficiently transferring Changes Only

 

X2 Native Replication – Xtremly Efficient 

Failover is easy and immediate

 

Architectural Advantages = Replication Efficiencies

  1. Changes only
  2. Write Folding
  3. Global, across sites deduplication
  4. Compression

 

Configuration and Options

Replication is the means to an end

 

Replication Use Cases

Setup / refresh takes hours / days

 

Improve business process and agility 

  1. Unified management 
  2. Quick and easy setup
  3. Comprehensive and simple operations
  4. iCDM integration
  5. Orchestration

Unified view for local and remote protection (under data protection)

See RPO compliance, throughput, replication efficiency, RPO (actual vs required)

 

DR Operations

  • Resume / suspend
  • Failover 
  • Failback
  • Test a copy

 

Protection Settings

  • RPO as low as 30 seconds
  • Retention Policy – defines the protection window and number of PiTs
  • XtremIO automatically manages the retention
  • Granularity per time period (up to 3)

[Demo Video]

 

iCDM Integration

Examples

Copy prod to dev and test

  1. Setup replication
  2. Repurpose copy
  3. Map volumes to host

[Demo Video]

Prod to test using master image

  1. Setup replication
  2. Repurpose copy
  3. Refresh data

[Demo Video]

 

Ecosystem

  • Solves the CDM problem
  • App self service
  • App integration and orchestration
  • XtremIO Virtual Copies (XVC)
  • Consistent multi-dimensional scale performance and data services

 

AppSync 

  • Get AppSync functionality free (existing X2 customers)
  • Manage up to 20 concurrent mounted copies
  • FREE support and maintenance included
  • Upgrade to unlimited copies at normal AppSync pricing
  • XtremIO Native Replication Integration – AppSync 3.8 Q3 2018
    • create and manage copies of data on either the source or the target of X2 replication
    • create and manage copies of data on source and target simultaneously 
    • restore from any one side at any given time

 

VMware SRM Support via SRA plugin

 

Setup

X2 Metadata-aware Replication Details

  • Full GUI management and monitoring
    • configuration via simple XMS or CLI wizards
    • REST API
  • Networking & Performance
    • 10GbE IP (onboard copper or optic)
    • Up to 200ms latency
    • Bi-directional
    • VLANs supported
  • Volume re-sizing supported
  • Fan in/out (up to 4 systems) supported

 

Replication Ports

  • Dual personality cards – can be configured as 4 iSCSI or 2 iSCI and 2 FC
  • Replication
    • Any of the 4 available replication optical ports @ 10Gbs, if not used for host connectivity or FC
    • Dedicated copper replication port @ 10Gbs

Efficient – Consistent – Reliable 

6.1 is out on the 3rd for existing XtremIO X2 customers

 

Questions?

Can I shrink volumes? No shrink. Expand is okay, resizing supported with replication.

How are the secondary hosts setup? You can put the hosts in no access mode or read-only. There’s a best practices guide. No access generally for some clusters.

How do you fallback? When you failover, you can choose to start replication to the other side. You can start it later if required. Do your failover and check, then start replication.

This is X2 only.

Single management view with XMS? Yes, although recommend one XMS per site.

Is everything scriptable? Yes, Web UI, CLI, and REST API. You can also plug in to vRO.

Will AppSync be re-purpose aware? It will allow you to do remote re-purposing.

What’s the size of a metadata block? 20 bytes, maybe? Not sure.

Plans for the X1? No, no plans to back port. You’ll need to use RecoverPoint.

Can you comment on redirect on unique write vs copy on write tech? Let’s take that off-line.

Per VM recovery? With AppSync or VMware SRM. The SRA is in the certification process – a few weeks away. SRM 6.5, 6.8, etc.

Migrate to VMAX to XtremIO? Customers are using storage vMotion – most common. Host-based tools. Let’s have a chat after. VPLEX, RP, etc.

 

Solid session. 4 stars.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Wednesday General Session – Technologies & Trends That Are Changing The World – Rough Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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.

<Eddie Vedder Voice> This one’s called longest title in the Dell Technologies World catalogue </Eddie Vedder Voice>

Here are my rough notes from Wednesday’s General Session – Technologies & Trends That Are Changing The World – at Dell Technologies World.

Allison Dew takes the stage. Data is the rocket fuel of our economy. The people in this room have always known that. We’re seeing emerging technologies like AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain becoming more mainstream. That’s enabling us to really unlock the power and the possibility of all that data. Data as the lifeblood of the economy – the next business revolution.

Morgan Stanley did some research and have suggested that “[t]he data era has become investable“. For example:

  • Walmart have reduced the time it takes to identify the source of food contamination from 7 days to seconds; and
  • NASDAQ can now identify potential fraud in realtime.

Using data combined with emerging technology to really unlock business potential. This will drive top-line growth, reduce costs, improving the bottom line. PWC think AI will contribute $16 Trillion to the global economy.

Dew then introduces Ashton Kutcher as an entrepreneur, and someone who asks “[h]ow do we use data for social good?”.

AK: There’s a lot of people here.

AD: It’s 10am on a Wednesday morning in Vegas, yeah.

AK: When I’m in Vegas I’m not usually up at 10.

AD: So you’re primarily known as an actor, and also a successful investor. How did you get into that?

AK: I was acting on “That 70s Show“. I was a Biochem engineering major in college. I left and became a model. I had a lot of extra time on the show as it was a large cast. I started producing reality TV. I started a production company. I started to see the buffering speeds for video improving on-line. We pivoted to be a digital media company. Needed to be able to measure and quantify distribution. Trying to quantify creativity. Elements in content that would increase distribution. Platforms that could measure that. If you could measure it you could improve it. Technology was a better way than hiring people. Started investing in foursquare, Skype, … Partnered with some people and started a VC firm. Started a new fund called Sound Ventures.

AD: What do you look for in terms of characteristics? In terms of transformation?

AK: It starts with a counter-intuitive thesis of some sort. The more I invest the more I realise the value of the company. You need to look at things in a different way. There are already so many giants in the market. If it’s really different, they might be able to get a head start.

AD: Example?

AK: Airbnb is counter-intuitive. Letting a stranger stay at your house is weird. But it works. They realised quickly from a personal data set that it worked. As the clients grow, the trust in the platform grows and becomes more valuable. Counter-intuitive ideology is core and key. Built off some data set that someone doesn’t have. It’s all about the team, the founders, their expertise. They have to have some edge. Everyone’s going to try and copy them. They need to be determined to walk though walls on behalf of their idea.

AD: So you spend some time getting to know them?

AK: I try to work out if I would I go work for that person. I don’t have a lot of spare time, but during the cycle I sometimes consider quitting my job and going to work for them.

AD: We talk about unintended consequences. Who knew the doorbell industry needed to be disrupted?

AK: I did. I met with the Ring founder when it was still a hardware play. I really don’t need this. Now I have one. That’s the other trick. When it was doormat it was really immature. And hardware is really hard, as you all know. I wasn’t a huge Amazon user at the time. I don’t buy very much. I didn’t understand how or if the next consumer was going to benefit from the previous user’s behaviour.

AD: Putting IoT on ice machines. Sometimes its about protection – insurance. Suddenly those ice trucks started using less salt. Is there anything you’re looking at now?

AK: I made a small investment in a company that does motorised scooters. People are upset because these scooters are ending up everywhere. How many times do you see cars everywhere and think, wow, these cars are a problem? Wouldn’t it be better if it was scooters? This is one of those early fights and people are going to realise that a few less cars on the road is good. Radar – using RFID tags – very localised. Every product in your store. Inventory control and checkouts. A lot of stuff in healthcare I’m interested in. Data with doctors – assisted AI.

AD: What’s Thorn?

AK: 10 years ago I saw this documentary about sex tours in Cambodia. I couldn’t believe it. It’s happening in the US and all across the world. I felt like I wasn’t being a good human if I didn’t do something about it. I formed it with my ex-wife. Started running campaigns. 72% of the transactions were happening on-line. Maybe we could use technology to make it a bad business? Now we build technology to fight the sexual exploitation of children. 5 tools (software). Help law enforcement agencies prioritise their caseload. Can use some intelligence to go through the ads and perform some analysis. We built a dashboard that law enforcement can use. Through the last year we found 18000 (?) people that were being trafficked through the US. Dark web tool to extract information from the dark web. Bunch of deterrence programs for people looking for child pornography.

AD: Are we going to continue to see technology going in this direction?

AK: It’s a function of time. As these databases become stronger, more intelligent, I think what we’re going to find is that the arduous things we do are going to become automated. We’ll become an economy of happiness. Doing things that fulfil us and make us happy, not an economy based on earning and labour. There’s going to be a real inflection point as jobs get taken over by AI. People are going to feel a real infringement of privacy. As a celebrity I fight for privacy. Rise of AI, rise of decentralised networks. People need to get smart about this stuff. Otherwise we’re going to live in a future where computers will tell us what to do, it won’t be us telling them.

AD then introduces Ray O’Farrell.

Many of you are technologists, used to technology disruption. What we’re seeing now is not just disruption, it’s a technology revolution.

  1. Mechanisation and Steam Power
  2. Mass Production
  3. Computer and Automation
  4. Cyber Physical

The initial tech was distributed, then consolidated (in large DCs or the cloud). The next step is going to be different. No longer about abstract data, now beginning to look at data generated by things of every day life. Where the physical world is meeting the digital world. Your car, your fridge, planes. We’re using data to gain insights and guide actions for positive outcomes. The physical world is not an abstract concept. Compute must be close to where the data is produced. Edge compute. The focus is also on enormous scale. Millions of mini DCs. Security is one of the most important elements, because it’s about the protection of something in the physical world.

Vast quantities of data being produced at the edge, so we’re becoming more aware of the concept of latency or, perhaps, responsiveness.

How do I build an ecosystem? Want something from end to end.

Examples: Agriculture, healthcare, and energy. Focus is on the outcome, not the technology. IoT is complex and new, and you want solutions. But you’re unique and special. Need to be able to work carefully with a broad ecosystem of partners. Making sure we can create open systems.

Ecosystem, Customers, Developers. Need to ensure that developers are empowered.

The industrial revolution has already begun. The shift to the edge requires new approaches to infrastructure (and management and operation). The world is a world of fast disruption, the pace is only going to increase. IoT used to be embedded systems. The difference is the mindset. Going to leverage the data to fundamentally change things. How is this a force for good? We’re constantly looking ahead. Not just this industrial revolution.

Ray invites John Roese to the stage to talk about AI.

Micheal talked about the person-machine era. I want to talk about the other half of the story. If we want a relationship, we need to make those machines smart. How is machine intelligence going to enter our lives?

1. This is happening now. It’s not something in the distant future.

  • Over 51% of consumers today are interacting with systems driven by AI
  • 40% reduction in Google’s DC cooling costs via DeepMind AI
  • $35B AI Chip Market by 2021

2. AI All around us

  • AI-enabled user experience
    • Careers: Natural language, visual sensing, predictive
    • Examples: digital assistant, industry robot, smart home
    • Visibility: High
  • AI-driven processes
    • Careers: Data analytics, SW development, TensorFlow / Caffe, Process Automation
    • Examples: Next Generation Customer care, Next Generation business processes, factory automation
    • Visibility: Medium
  • AI-optimized infrastructure
    • Careers: Future Design, Technical Support
    • Examples: Car Cruise Control, FAST in VMAX, Infrastructure Automation
    • Visibility: low

It easy to become infatuated with the user-focused AIs. We need to:

  • Improve the human condition – make our life easier
  • Ignite ROI
  • Scale beyond human capacity

Consequences and Benefits

  • Effort to implement
  • Job disruption
  • New job opportunities

Dell Technologies

  • Innovate on Compute – AI Engine
  • Store, Manage, Protect the Data – AI Fuel
  • Provide the multi-cloud Platform for AI – AI Brain

Group Chat Time

AD: Would you say you’re a nerd?

AK: Yes

RO: Yes

JR: Yes, super nerd

AD: We’ve seen the movies, which version do you think AI will most resemble?

JR: it’s not going to be the robot apocalypse. If we do it right, AI won’t be the story, the outcome will be. A thing that enables humanity to change.

AD: It’s a trick question

AK: It’s hard to say. There’s a lot of narrow AI that will launch in the short term various systems being replaced in specific ways. When general AI becomes more feasible – potential dramatic shift. Where the movie ends up will be different. A lot of jobs will be “pseudo-displaced” but other jobs will be created. Eg autonomous cars. “Pseudo class war”.

AD: Will your play yourself in the movie?

AK: No.

RO: I’m optimistic. The strength is when it’s a partner to the human. We’re mostly doing this in a useful way. It’s another tool in the toolbox.

AD: You hinted at the fifth industrial revolution.

RO: It’s a mindset change more than anything else. A fundamental shift in how things gets done. Like steam before it, data is powering the next revolution. I don’t think it’s going to be a sudden change.

AD: We talked about machines talking to machines.

RO: You already see a lot of machines talking to machines. Go into a modern factory. When you combine that with AI it becomes more interesting.

JR: Cloud Foundry. The next big gap in cloud native is service expression. Machines talking to machines – you need to solve the problem of common languages and APIs. That will be the biggest enabler I think.

AD: Final thoughts or comments?

JR: We are entering an era of human – machine partnership. Bringing the machines into the environment and making the machines smarter.

RO: I’m fundamentally excited about technology. When you look back over the last 10 years, it’s not stopping. The journey is continuing, there’s another transformation.

AK: All of this is really associated with the need to improve humanity. As these tools become better they’re really about improving our condition. Of all the startups I’m privileged to work on, my foundation is my greatest privilege. Solving a problem with the human condition. As we get wiser it’s important to use that knowledge and unleash it on behalf of humanity in a way that is greater than yourself. It’s far more rewarding. It just seems like it’s the right thing to do. These tools are built, and weaponised for good. And it’s all of our responsibility.

AD wraps up with a virtual mic drop.

Good session. 4 stars.

Dell Technologies World 2018 – Dell EMC (H)CI Updates

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, 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.

Announcement

Dell EMC today announced enhancements to their (hyper)converged infrastructure offerings: VxRail and VxRack SDDC.

VxRail

  • VMware Validated Designs for SDDC to plan, operate, & deploy on-prem cloud
  • Future-proof performance w/NVMe, 2x more memory (up to 3TB per node), 2x graphics acceleration, and 25Gbps networking support
  • New STIG Compliance Guide and automated scripts accelerate deployment of secure infrastructure

VxRack SDDC

  • Exclusive automation & serviceability extensions with VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF)
  • Now leverages more powerful 14th Gen PowerEdge 
  • End-to-end cloud infrastructure security

 

Gil Shneorson on HCI

During the week I also had the chance to speak with Gil Shneorson and I thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of his insights here.

What do you think about HCI in the context of an organisation’s journey to cloud. Is it a stop-gap? “HCI is simply a new way to consume infrastructure (compute and SDS) – and you get some stuff that wasn’t available before. Your environments are evergreen – you take less risk, you don’t have to plan ahead, don’t tend to buy too much or too little”.

Am I going to go traditional or HCI? “Most are going HCI. Where is the role of traditional storage? It’s become more specialised – bare metal, extreme performance, certain DR scenarios. HCI comes partially with everything – lots of storage, lots of CPU. Customers are using it in manufacturing, finance, health care, retail – all in production. There’s no more delineation. Economics are there. Picked up over 3000 customers in 9 quarters”.

Shneorson went on to say that HCI provides “[g]ood building blocks for cloud-like environments – IaaS. It’s the software on top, not the HCI itself. The world is dividing into specific stacks – VMware, Microsoft, Nutanix. Dell EMC are about VMware’s multi-cloud approach. If you do need on-premises, HCI is a good option, and won’t be going away. The Edge is growing like crazy too. Analytics, decision making. Not just point of sale for stores. You need a lot more just in time scale for storage, compute, network.

How about networking? “More is being done. Moving away form storage networks has been a challenge. Not just technically, but organisationally. Finding people who know a bit about everything isn’t easy. Sometimes they stick with the old because of the people. You need a lot of planning to put your IO on the customers’ network. Then you need to automate. We’re still trying to make HCI as robust as traditional architectures”.

And data protection? “Data protection still taking bit of a backseat”.

Are existing VCE customers were upset about some of the move away from Cisco? “Generally, if they were moving away from converged solutions, it was more because they’d gained more confidence in HCI, rather than the changing tech or relationships associated with Dell EMC’s CI offering”.

 

Thoughts

This weeks announcements around VxRail and VxRack SDDC weren’t earth shattering by any stretch, but the thing that sticks in my mind is that Dell EMC continue to iteratively improve the platform and are certainly focused on driving VxRail to be number one in the space. There’s a heck of a lot of competition out there from their good friends at Nutanix, so I’m curious to see how this plays out. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what platform you use to deliver outcomes, they key is that you deliver those outcomes. In the market, it seems the focus is moving more towards how the applications can deliver value, rather than what infrastructure is hosting those applications. This is a great move, but just like serverless needs servers, you still need to think about where your value-adding applications are being hosted. Ideally, you want the data close to the processing, and, depending on the applications, your users need to be close to that data and processing too. Hyper-converged infrastructure can be a really nice solution to leverage when you want to move beyond the traditional storage / compute / network paradigm. You can start small and scale (to a point) as required. Dell EMC’s VxRail and VxRack story is getting better as time goes on.