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

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Here are my rough notes from Media & Analyst Conference Session II – Architecting Innovation in a Multi-Cloud World: Chairman Q&A with Michael Dell; Discussion with Jeff Clarke and Pat Gelsinger.


Q and A with Michael Dell

MD: We’re innovating like crazy across our businesses.

Q: As organisations begin to adopt more technology, they’re adding more risks too. How does Dell mitigate this risk of lock-in if they choose to go all in with Dell?

MD: Customers don’t want to be systems integrators anymore. What we do is broad, but the alternative could be 20 companies. Our breadth has been resonating with customers. They want fewer companies to deal with. Part of this is the sense of urgency that is a function of this digital transformation. Customers have to be reimagining what they’re doing. And they need to do it quickly.  Fewer partners and industry consolidation will be the trend.

Q: In the context of data privacy and security, can you talk about the Secureworks Red Cloak offering.

MD: We’re now offering Red Cloak. Secureworks grew up in the last 20 years helping customers solve an important problem. You buy all these different security products, but you don’t know what to do with all the events, indicators. Yo need to build an AI engine to deal with it. Only Secureworks could use this engine though. Customers wanted the capability for themselves, the ability to customise it. Will open up a new set of capabilities for customers to deal with al these threats. The ingenuity of the bad folks out there is stunning. The bad guys are using AI and ML and the cloud too.

Q: A lot of the announcements today had the VMware brand on them. Are you going to differentiate?

MD: We are VMware, VMware is us. The collaboration has never been greater. We own over 80% of VMware. VCF was created a couple of years – seamlessly move applications across on-premises through to public cloud and the edge. Partnership with VMware is only getting stronger, and it’s what customers wanted.

The DT Cloud is inclusive of the VMware cloud, but also uses the Dell EMC infrastructure. Starting with VxRail, but this will extend.

Q: Dell is investing in startups in India. We talk about diversity, but how do you remove biases from AI and ML?

MD: DT Capital has invested in over 90 startups all over the world. Unconscious bias is a significant problem. We’re experimenting in our hiring and Human Resources to try and ensure bias is not reflected in our activities. We’re trying to work it out. Make sure these technologies reflect our humanity.

Q: I’m interested in SME. Indian SMEs are in the millions. They are different to SMEs in the US, or other parts of the world. How is Dell looking at this pool of business potential?

MD: We love large customers, but also small and medium. When have had a specific strategy to invest and grow that part of the business. 18 countries have a specific small business focus. Take a very local approach. Attractive growth vector for the company. All companies start small. We want to serve those companies from their beginnings. This new technology will unleash new business models. We strive to be the best provider of capabilities, and it has to be highly localised.

Q: Dell Technology Cloud is for on-premises. VCF is AWS, SoftLayer. Are you going to do DTCloud in your own DCs?

MD: No, we’re not going to build our own DCs. We have over 4000 VMware partners, and Azure. Customers will be able to move workloads between those partners, and their on-premises cloud. Appliances have been created that are highly autonomous. Take away the management overhead of having 1000s of ppl managing this stuff. We believe there will be a boom in edge computing. We have a consistent way to manage all of that.

Q: Can we expect at some point in the future that we might see AzureStack or OpenStack running on-premises from you?

MD: Yes. Trend of the public cloud services finding their way on-premises. True definition of multi-cloud.

Q: HPE signed up with Nutanix. Are these announcements a strategy to beat out the competition.

MD: We’ve already beat these companies in HCI. No-one has a better hybrid cloud strategy. It’s an admission from HPE that their strategy is not working well. If you’re going to get in a brawl, take the first punch, and make it a good one.

Q: With the Secureworks announcement today. Moore’s Law is facing its end. Intel delaying chips for PCs. Something is slowing down. You’re a big customer – what do you do?

MD: Our next speakers know a bit more about this. There have been supply challenges in the microprocessor area. We’re dealing with it. Seeing dramatic advancements in compute power, not just in CPUs, but GPUs.

Q: DCaaS and Workspace One – what’s the impact on Dell’s channel partners, MSPs and VARs?

MD: Partners are embracing multi-cloud. Looking to us to extend our capabilities further into the cloud.

Q: You paint a compelling picture of a new age of miracles. How do we bring these to emerging markets? What other miracles do you imagine will come?

MD: I don’t know that I have a perfect answer. Creating a more inclusive world is super important. Other miracles? The combinatorial inventions of the future are hard to predict. We can think about the ingredients. 5G, AI. There will be a massive wave of innovation. Technology has been an enormous force for good. Exactly how? I don’t think people know just yet.

Q: AWS can do stuff in days, but SDDC from DTC is 30 days.

MD: We under promise, and over deliver.


Pat Gelsinger and Jeff Clarke

Q: What functional changes have occurred? To mash together VMware and Dell Technologies together.

Jeff: Pat and VMware are still independent. But we’ve changed the collaboration dynamic. How do we do HCI? Common data services? Compute? We’ve broken down the traditional layers that existed between us.

Pat: The financial restructuring, hasn’t changed the operational model.

Q: Project Dimension is significantly new.

Pat: Today’s announcement on the unified workspace is a big deal.

Jeff: Unified Workspace – VMware, Secureworks, Dell PCs, Dell support. Dell Technologies Cloud. There’s the platform side – VCF on VxRail out of the factory. There’s the DC managed as a service component.

Q: Who’s going to build a VMware ecosystem on Azure?

Pat: The offerings of VMC on AWS is a VMware-offered solution. VMW on Azure is a Microsoft offered service. Google Anthos – it’s a directional announcement.

Q: A key element to digital workspace is security. Workspace One is not a full IAM suite.

Pat: The Workspace One model is that most places have picked an IAM solution already. We federate. And uniformly deploy that across all of the devices.

Jeff: You might be pleasantly surprised in the future. Creating a substrate to allow the 7 businesses to work as one.

Q: Will you support OpenStack?

Pat: OpenStack competes with VCF. We’ve embraced the interfaces. We do deliver VIO. Builds on top of VMware Cloud Foundation. We announced support for OpenShift on top of the VMware SDDC solution. We also have PKS competing with OpenShift.

Q: Are you considering that Nutanix is your first challenger? And what about NTNX and Dell now?

Pat: Dell has the broadest offering, ecosystem. There are competitors. Microsoft, RedHat, NTNX. VMware is ahead of all of those. Regarding HCI, VxRail is now the leader. We’re growing much faster than #2 in the marketplace.

Jeff: There is no doubt in our mind about what our preferred solution is that we take to our customers. If customers want choice, we can offer choice. But we will lead with our own IP (Dell and VMware).

Q: The biggest drawback to all of this seems to be maturity and vendor lock-in. How do you guys address that?

Jeff: Customers want lifecycle management. They want it to be easier to deploy and manage. That’s what we’ve done with VMware and VxRail.

Pat: Customers want fewer, more strategic vendors. Less attention looking at the lower part of the stack. Our objective is to give them solutions that allow them to look up. But that can be seen as taking away choice. VMware strategy has been to keep open interfaces at every layer, and keep choices open. Trying to balance both of those.

Q: Having been in the PC business, what new form factor do you see coming in the future? Do you see voice becoming a key part of the interface?

Jeff: We don’t need another form factor. We are going to evolve to a world with a natural user interface with these products. Will become unconstrained from the keyboard and mouse. Augmented reality. 5G and low latency data. Experience across a 5” device through to 100” device will continue. That’s more interesting than what our new notebooks will look like. It’s much more about the rich, immersive experiences.

Informative session in places. 4 stars.

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

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Here are my very rough notes from Tuesday’s General Session “Innovation to Unlock Your Digital Future” at Dell Technologies World 2019.

Jeff Clarke takes the stage. Dell is creating a substrate, with

  • Dell Technologies Unified Workspace;
  • Dell Technologies Cloud; and
  • VMware Cloud on Dell EMC.

It’s the “Data Era”, and you need to focus on your “data capital”. IT has to modernise to meet the data needs of today and tomorrow. Dell is investing in data management and data services.

  1. Powerful and modern infrastructure to handle things like AI / ML
  2. You’ll need a hybrid cloud strategy for your multi-cloud strategy
  3. The edge is coming. 25% of all data volume will be real-time generated at the edge
  4. Software-defined
  5. It’s about a modern workforce experience

Five generations spanning the workforce today. Generation Z is the latest. Focus on workforce, IT, application, and security transformation.

[Customer testimonial video – Under Armour]

John Roese, President and CTO, takes the stage. We’re creating more data than we ever have before. That’s the fuel of the modern enterprise. But all the data and algorithms don’t matter if we can’t turn that into value quickly. You need the Cloud – core – edge working as a system



There are 2 types of edges. The first type are entities that are smart and mobile – people. Keeping them productive is a focus. A new range of laptops is announced – the 7000, 5000, 3000.

Rahul Tikoo takes the stage to talk with John about laptops …

And a new dock.

The second edge is dominated by IoT and sensors. We are redistributing IT back out into the real world – in hospitals, factories. 5G is about distributing compute into the edge. You need to be able to deliver IT anywhere it’s needed. And it needs to be hardened, resilient. Roese talks about Dell Technologies as being a strategic partner to most telcos. They’re helping companies building not just smart factories, but “insightful” factories.

The edge – it’s where most of the data is created and where most of the action happens.



The core is becoming more distributed and multi-cloud is becoming important for workload migration.

  • Scale up and scale out
  • NVMe and SCM
  • SW-defined
  • Cloud-enabled
  • Trusted
  • Built-in AI/ML

From a PowerEdge perspective, Dell EMC announced the Dell EMC DSS 8440. You can add up to 10 accelerators, such as Nvidia GPUs.


From a storage perspective, there have been a few announcements, including

  • A new Isilon model, and support for up to 58PB, and 252 nodes;
  • PowerMax is now supports dual-ported storage class memory – using it as a primary tier of storage; and
  • The new Unity XT range has been announced.

Craig Bernero takes the stage to talk about the XT and Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services. There’s a brief CloudIQ demo.

Data Protection

Beth Phalen takes the stage with John to talk about data protection. Data protection requirements are changing. They still have IDPA, DPS, and Data Domain. They now also have PowerProtect.

  • X400 – Multi-dimensional data protection appliance
  • Software-defined offering as well
  • Scale out or “grow in place”

First ever all-flash data management appliance. PowerProtect demo.

Roese: “It’s not secondary storage – it’s protected, managed infrastructure”.


Strategy has been focus on the future. The Dell EMC networking range has now been rebranded as PowerSwitch.

Roese says they’ve always built products for the hybrid cloud. Dell are most used hardware and software to build clouds (public and private) – whatever that means. Chad Dunn takes the stage and talks about all things VxRail and Pivotal, including VxRail Analytical Consulting Engine (ACE).

Roese says “every industry will go through these transformations. You can’t execute it with just a great product, or a great data centre. You need a great modern essential infrastructure”.

Jeff Clarke comes back on stage. By next year we’ll have finished modernising the entire Dell EMC portfolio

[Customer testimonial video – Home Depot]



Pat Gelsinger takes the stage and talks about the “superpowers of tech”

  • Cloud
  • Mobile
  • AI / ML
  • Edge / IoT

“If I take your AMEX, I can build a 10000-core supercomputer over the weekend. If I take Michael’s AMEX, I can build the world’s biggest super computer”

VMware’s Vision has been “any cloud, any application, any device”

3 laws of hybrid cloud

  • Physics – low latency. You can’t do 250ms RTT if you want 50ms response time.
  • Economics – intelligence at the edge
  • Land – if it needs to be on-premises then you can’t take it to the public cloud

VxRail as a core unit of computing


“Everyone needs to become a great software company”

VMware PKS

  • Enterprise PKS
  • Essential PKS
  • Cloud PKS (Beta)

Laptop / edge announcements dominated the conversation, rather than some of the cool storage stuff. Interesting. I’ll have some more coverage of the storage and data protection announcements soon. 3 stars.

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

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2019.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Media, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Here are my very rough notes from Monday’s General Session “The Architects of Innovation” at Dell Technologies World 2019.

Michael Dell takes the stage. Time is flying by. And we’re inspired by what you all have accomplished. Fearlessly facing into the digital future.

We’ve created the “Essential Infrastructure Company”. We’ve invested more than $20B in R&D in the last 5 years, and the 35th birthday of the company is coming up. Dell has always been a culture about technology optimism. People are at the centre of everything we do.

Global life expectancy is up, vaccinations are up, Global GDP is up. The next 3 decades will have more progress than ever before. We’ll possibly see the eradication of deafness. A new age of miracles is just around the corner.

We’re creating a digital twin of reality. Ensure technology reflects our humanity and values. Fire can burn a village, but it also warms the home. Technology can improve out lives, but it comes with challenges. The aim is for better lives on a global scale. This is why we all come together. Through million of actions, we’re working with you to build a better world.

Draper Labs in Massachusetts (customer video)

Northern California Campfire, 2018 – So much more data coming from satellites. Opportunity to put all of that together. Learning the full story to understand how to solve these problems in the future. MD recognises the team from Draper.

It’s a time of unprecedented progress. Driving new digital native models and services. Technology is the enabler of progress. Its impact is far beyond what it used to been the IT organisation. Every organisation needs to reimagine itself in the new digital age.

The story starts with a tsunami of data. It’s our greatest asset and most important resource. It’s completely renewable and inexhaustible. Turning that data into action and progress and success is at the heart of digital transformation.

  • Computing power
  • Artificial intelligence
  • 5G

We’re doing this through

  • VMware – virtualising all of your infrastructure (including the network)
  • Partnering with all of the public clouds
  • Edge – core – multi-cloud

Pivotal is fast becoming the leading platform for developing apps in the multi-cloud world.

“Dell Technologies is truly better together”

Secureworks – Red Cloak Threat Detection & Response announcement

Bank of America is transforming into a leading digital organisation. Cathy Bessant says they “need a lot of data to be effective”. They share a strategic understanding of the importance of trust. Don’t get lost in some ethereal concept of access. Requirements change at the pace of a consumer, not at the speed of enterprise. Speed, iterative thought, knowing the answers before the questions are known. Whatever got us to this point will not get us to the future. We are only as good as the sum of our great partnerships.

MD says whether you’re a powerhouse or a farmhouse – you matter to us. The future is AI-powered and software-defined

Jeff Clarke takes the stage. What a time to be in the technology sector. Data-centric workloads are changing the way we work. There’s a new distributed edge. New entrants to the workforce – “Digital natives” – mixing personal and work in a very time sliced way. IT has to respond by modernising its methods. IT has become an integral part of the business. Holistic solutions from the edge to the core to the cloud

What’s next?

Worked with Pat Gelsinger in the industry over the last 30 years. Need to drive smarter and simpler IT in this era. Pat Gelsinger joins Jeff on the stage.

Modernise the PC experience while eliminating complexity. Simpler is always better.

  • 81% workforce outside of traditional office
  • 76% work in 2 or more places
  • 52% work in more than 3 places weekly

Companies need engaged employees. Mobile, multi-device workforce. IT needs to provision and deploy simply and securely. It’s a complex problem. Users need simpler provisioning, deployment, processes. Users want the modern, mobile device experience

Dell Technologies Unified Workspace announcement

  • Extended PCaaS capabilities
  • Deploy, secure, manage and support
  • PCs from Dell – rent, buy, or lease

Gelsinger – Public and Private need to work together

  • 93% applications use multiple clouds
  • 5+ cloud architectures used
  • $120B new hardware spend for on-premises private clouds through 2022
  • $100B software & services spend through 2022

With this evolution, you get a lot of complexity. So much of the work of the last decade has been “solving silos”. Complexity of cloud silos is slowing down adoption. Where’s your data? Storing it, protecting it, backing it up?

Jeff: Is it time for a better cloud?

Pat: I think it is.

Read more about Dell Technologies Cloud powered by VMware here.

  • Remove the complexity, and control the chaos in a multi-cloud world.
  • Hybrid done right.
  • Consistent infrastructure across all of your environments. IaaS and PaaS across all of your environments. Support for PKS and containers. Consume on a monthly basis.
  • VxRail now fully supports VCF. PowerMax and Unity are VCF-ready.

Pat: Project Dimension – DCaaS. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC – working on bringing it to market this year.

People go the cloud because it’s easier, not necessarily cheaper or better.

  • VMware-operated end-to-end
  • Hybrid cloud control plane
  • VMware SDDC delivered on Dell EMC VxRail
  • Co-engineered & delivered by Dell Technologies

June Yang, VP, Engineering and Product Management, VMware comes on stage with Pat to do a demo.

  • All-inclusive subscription price
  • Start as small as 3 nodes
  • Control plane stays on-premises
  • Available H2 2019

Jeff leaves the stage. Michael comes back on the join Pat.

MD: We’ve been talking a lot about multi-cloud, and the importance of choice and flexibility. Distributed innovation, and interoperability among the leading companies. Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) joins them on the stage. Read more about the Microsoft, Dell Technologies and VMware announcement here.

Azure VMware solutions – best of VMware and the best of Azure. VCF into Azure.

MD: Back when we started working with Microsoft, it was all about the PC. Now we’re talking about cloud resources. The PC is still and important part of what we’re all doing.

Satya: We’ve always been working to empower employees. Windows 10 has momentum – 800 million devices out there. Microsoft 365 has become the essential tool for collaboration, security and compliance.

Pat: Workspace One, Office 365, Microsoft 365, Windows 10, Azure Active Directory coming together

How about NSX and Azure networking? How can we bring Azure services on-premises on VMware?

Pat and Satya leave the stage.

MD: Customers are at the centre of everything we do.

Cloud-agnostic interoperability. Cleaner world, humane world, working across the ecosystem to solve our challenges

Karen Quintos (Chief Customer Officer) takes the stage. It’s great to see when technology takes a key role in solving problems. But it’s people behind the technology. Phoebe’s story – 3D-printed prosthetics. Read more about e-NABLE here.

MD joins Karen on stage.

“Our mission is to advance human progress”.

Solid session. 4 stars.

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

This is a quick post to let you all know that I’ll be heading to Dell’s annual conference (Dell Technologies World) this year in Las Vegas, NV. I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends and meeting some new ones. If you haven’t registered yet but feel like that’s something you might want to do – the registration page is here. To get a feel for what’s on offer, you can check out the agenda here. I’m looking forward to hearing more about stuff like this.

I’ll also be participating in a Tech Field Day Extra event at Dell Technologies World. You can check out the event page for that here.

Massive thanks to Konstanze and Debbie from Dell for organising the “influencer” pass for me. Keep an eye out for me at the conference and surrounding events and don’t be afraid to come and say hi (if you need a visual – think Grandad Wolverine).

Random Short Take #13

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Let’s dive in to lucky number 13.

Storage Field Day 18 – Wrap-up and Link-o-rama

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 18.  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.

This is a quick post to say thanks once again to Stephen and Ben, and the presenters at Storage Field Day 18. I had a super fun and educational time. For easy reference, here’s a list of the posts I did covering the events (they may not match the order of the presentations).

Storage Field Day – I’ll Be At Storage Field Day 18

Storage Field Day 18 – Day 0

Storage Field Day 18 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Cohesity Is (Data)Locked In

NetApp And The Space In Between

StorPool And The Death of Hardware-Defined Storage

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus – More Than Meets The Eye

Western Digital Are Keeping Composed

VAST Data – No More Tiers Mean No More Tears?

WekaIO Continues To Evolve

Datera and the Rise of Enterprise Software-Defined Storage


Also, here’s a number of links to posts by my fellow delegates (in no particular order). They’re all very smart people, and you should check out their stuff, particularly if you haven’t before. I’ll attempt to keep this updated as more posts are published. But if it gets stale, the Storage Field Day 18 landing page will have updated links.


Becky Elliott (@BeckyLElliott)

California Dreamin’ My Way to Storage Field Day 18

A VAST-ly Different Storage Story


Chin-Fah Heoh (@StorageGaga)

A Storage Field 18 I will go – for the fun of it

VAST Data must be something special

Catch up (fast) – IBM Spectrum Protect Plus

Clever Cohesity

Storpool – Block storage managed well

Bridges to the clouds and more – NetApp NDAS

WekaIO controls their performance destiny

The full force of Western Digital


Chris M Evans (@ChrisMEvans)

Podcast #3 – Chris & Matt review the SFD18 presenters

Exploiting secondary data with NDAS from NetApp

VAST Data launches with new scale-out storage platform

Can the WekaIO Matrix file system be faster than DAS?

#91 – Storage Field Day 18 in Review


Erik Ableson (@EAbleson)

SFD18-Western Digital

Vast Data at Storage Field Day 18


Ray Lucchesi (@RayLucchesi)

StorPool, fast storage for fast times

For data that never rests, NetApp NDAS


Jon Klaus (@JonKlaus)

My brain will be melting at Storage Field Day 18!

Faster and bigger SSDs enable us to talk about something else than IOps

How To: Clone Windows 10 from SATA SSD to M.2 SSD (& fix inaccessible boot device)

The fast WekaIO file system saves you money!

Put all your data on flash with VAST Data


Enrico Signoretti (@ESignoretti)

A Packed Field Day

Democratizing Data Management

How IBM is rethinking its data protection line-up

NetApp, cloudier than ever

Voices in Data Storage – Episode 10: A Conversation with Boyan Ivanov

Voices in Data Storage – Episode 11: A Conversation with Renen Hallak

Voices in Data Storage – Episode 12: A Conversation with Bill Borsari


Josh De Jong (@EuroBrew)


Matthew Leib (@MBLeib)

I Am So Looking Forward to #SFD18

#SFD18 introduces us to VAST Data

Dual Actuator drives: An interesting trend

Weka.IO and my first official briefing

Cohesity: More on the real value of data


Max Mortillaro (@DarkkAvenger)

Storage Field Day 18 – It’s As Intense As Storage Field Day Gets

Storage Field Day 18 – Fifty Shades of Disclosure

Cohesity – The Gold Standard in Data Management

EP17 – Storpool: Being the best in Block Based storage – with Boyan Ivanov

Developing Data Protection Solutions in the Era of Data Management

Western Digital : Innovation in 3D NAND and Low Latency Flash NAND


Paul L. Woodward Jr (@ExploreVM)

Storage Field Day 18, Here I Come!


[photo courtesy of Stephen Foskett]

Datera and the Rise of Enterprise Software-Defined Storage

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 18.  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.

Datera recently presented at Storage Field Day 18. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.


Enterprise Software-Defined Storage

Datera position themselves as delivering “Enterprise Software-Defined Storage”. But what does that really mean? Enterprise IT gives you:

  • High Performance
  • Enterprise Features
    • QoS
    • Fault Domains
    • Stretched Cluster
    • L3 Networking
    • Deduplication
    • Replication
  • HA
  • Resiliency

Software-defined storage gives you:

  • Automation
  • DC Awareness Agility
  • Continuous Availability
  • Targeted Data Placement
  • Continuous Optimisation
  • Rapid technology adoption

Combine both of these and you get Datera.

[image courtesy of Datera]


Why Datera?

There are some other features built in to the platform that differentiate Datera’s offering, including:

  • L3 Networking – Datera brings standard protocols with modern networking to data centre storage. Resources are designed to float to allow for agility, availability, and scalability.
  • Policy-based Operations – Datera was built from day 1 with policy controls and policy templates to easy operations at scale while maintaining agility and availability.
  • Targeted Data Placement – ensure data is distributed correctly across the physical infrastructure to meet policies around perfromance, availability, data protection while controlling cost


Thoughts and Further Reading

I’ve waxed lyrical about Datera’s intent-based approach previously. I like the idea that they’re positioning themselves as “Enterprise SDS”. While my day job is now at a service provider, I spent a lot of time in enterprise shops getting crusty applications to keep on running, as best as they could, on equally crusty storage arrays. Something like Datera comes along with a cool hybrid storage approach and the enterprise guys get a little nervous. They want replication, they want resiliency, they want to apply QoS policies to it.

The software-defined data centre is the darling architecture of the private cloud world. Everyone wants to work with infrastructure that can be easily automated, highly available, and extremely scalable. Historically, some of these features have flown in the face of what the enterprise wants: stability, performance, resiliency. The enterprise guys aren’t super keen on updating platforms in the middle of the day. They want to buy multiples of infrastructure components. And they want multiple sets of infrastructure protecting applications. They aren’t that far away from those software-defined folks in any case.

The ability to combine continuous optimisation with high availability is a neat part of Datera’s value proposition. Like a number of software-defined storage solutions, the ability to rapidly iterate new features within the platform, while maintaining that “enterprise” feel in terms of stability and resiliency, is a pretty cool thing. Datera are working hard to bring the best of both worlds together, and managing to deliver the agility that enterprise wants, while maintaining the availability within the infrastructure that they crave.

I’ve spoken at length before about the brutally slow pace of working in some enterprise storage shops. Operations staff are constantly being handed steamers from under-resourced or inexperienced project delivery staff. Change management people are crippling the pace. And the CIO wants to know why you’ve not moved your SQL 2005 environment to AWS. There are some very good reasons why things work the way they do (and also some very bad ones), and innovation can be painfully hard to make happen in these environments. The private cloud kids, on the other hand, are all in on the fast paced, fail fast, software-defined life. They’ve theoretically got it all humming along without a whole lot of involvement on a daily basis. Sure, they’re living on the edge (do I sound old and curmudgeonly yet?). In my opinion, Datera are doing a pretty decent job of bringing these two worlds together. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do in the next 12 months to progress that endeavour.

WekaIO Continues To Evolve

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 18.  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.

WekaIO recently presented at Storage Field Day 18. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here. I’ve written about WekaIO before, and you can read those posts here and here.



Barbara Murphy described WekaIO Matrix as “the fastest, most scalable parallel file system for AI and technical compute workloads that ensure applications never wait for data”.


What They Do

So what exactly does WekaIO Matrix do?

  • WekaIO Matrix is software-defined storage solution that runs on anything from bare metal, VMs, containers, on-premises or in the cloud;
  • Fully-coherent POSIX file system that’s faster than a local file system;
  • Distributed Coding, More Resilient at Scale, Fast Rebuilds, End-to-End Data Protection; and
  • InfiniBand or Ethernet, Converged or Dedicated, on-premises or cloud.

[image courtesy of WekaIO]


Lots of Features

WekaIO Matrix now has a bunch of features, including:

  • Support for S3, SMB, and NFS protocols;
  • Cloud backup, Snapshots, Clones, and Snap-2-Obj;
  • Active Directory support and authentication;
  • POSIX;
  • Network High Availability;
  • Encryption;
  • Quotas;
  • HDFS; and
  • Tiering.

Flexible deployment models

  • Appliance model – compute and storage on separate infrastructure; and
  • Converged model – compute and storage on shared infrastructure.

Both models are cloud native because “[e]verybody wants the ability to be able to move to the cloud, or leverage the cloud”


Architectural Considerations

WekaIO is focused on delivering super fast storage via NVMe-oF, and say that NFS and SMB deliver legacy protocol support for convenience.

The Front-End

WekaIO front-ends are cluster-aware

  • Incoming read requests optimised re location and loading conditions – incoming writes can go anywhere
  • Metadata fully distributed
  • No redirects required

SR-IOV optimises network access WekaIO directly access NVMe Flash

  • Bypassing the kernel leads to better performance.

The Back-End

The WekaIO parallel clustered filesystem is

  • Optimised flash-native data placement
    • Not designed for HDD
    • No “cylinder groups” or other anachronisms – data protection (similar to EC)
    • 3-16 data drives, +2 or +4 parity drives
    • Optional hot spares – uses a “virtual” hot spare

Global namespace = hot tier + Object storage tier

  • Tiering to S3-API Object storage
    • Additional capacity with lower cost per GB
    • Files shared to object storage layer (parallelised access optimise performances, simplifies partial or offset reads)

WekaIO uses the S3-API as its equivalent of “SCSI” for HDD.


Conclusion and Further Reading

I like the WekaIO story. They take away a lot of the overheads associated with non-DAS storage through the use of a file system and control of the hardware. You can make DAS run really fast, but it’s invariably limited to the box that it’s in. Scale-out pools of storage still have a place, particularly in the enterprise, and WekaIO are demonstrating that the performance is there for the applications that need it. There’s a good story in terms of scale, performance, and enterprise resilience features.

Perhaps you like what you see with WekaIO Matrix but don’t want to run stuff on-premises? There’s a good story to be had with Matrix on AWS as well. You’ll be able to get some serious performance, and chances are it will fit in nicely with your cloud-native application workflow.

WekaIO continues to evolve, and I like seeing the progress they’ve been making to this point. It’s not always easy to convince the DAS folks that you can deliver a massively parallel file system and storage solution based on commodity hardware, but WekaIO are giving it a real shake. I recommend checking out Chris M. Evans’s take on WekaIO as well.

VAST Data – No More Tiers Means No More Tears?

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 18.  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.

VAST Data recently presented at Storage Field Day 18. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.


VAST Enough?

VAST Data have a solution that basically offers massive scale with Tier 1 performance, without the cost traditionally associated with Tier 1 storage.

Foundational Pieces

Some of the key pieces of the solution are technologies that weren’t commonly available until recently, including:

  • NVMe-oF – DC-scale storage protocol that enables remote NVMe devices to be accessed with direct attached performance.
  • QLC Flash – A new Flash architecture that costs less than enterprise Flash while delivering enterprise levels of performance.
  • Storage Class Memory – Persistent, NVMe memory that can be used to reliably buffer perfect writes to QLC and create large, global metadata structures to enable added efficiency.

If you read their blog post, you’ll notice that there are some interesting ideas behind the VAST Data solution, including the ideas that:

  • Flash is the only media that can be used to bring the cost of storage under what people pay today for HDD-based systems.
  • NFS and S3 can be used for applications that up until now required a level of performance that could only come from block storage.
  • Low-endurance QLC flash can be used for even the most transactional of workloads.
  • Storage computing can be disaggregated from storage media to enable greater simplicity than shared-nothing and hyper-converged architectures.
  • Data protection codes can reduce overhead to only 2% while enabling levels of resiliency 10 orders of magnitude more than classic RAID.
  • Compressed files provide evidence that data can be reduced further when viewed on a global scale.
  • Parallel storage architectures can be built without any amount of code parallelism.
  • Customers can build shared storage architectures that can compose and assign dedicated performance and security isolation to tenants on the fly.
  • One well-engineered, scalable storage system can be ‘universal’ and can enable a diverse array of workloads and requirements.


[image courtesy of VAST Data]

  • VAST Servers – A cluster can be built with 2- 10,000 stateless servers. Servers can be collocated with applications as containers and made to auto-scale with application demand.
  • NVMe Fabric – A scalable, shared-everything cluster can be built by connecting every server and device in the cluster over commodity data center networks (Ethernet or InfiniBand).
  • NVMe Enclosures – Highly-Available NVMe Enclosures manage over one usable PB per RU. Enclosures can be scaled independent of Servers and clusters can be built to manage exabytes.

Rapid Rebuild Encoding

VAST codes accelerate rebuild speed by using a new type of algorithm that gets faster with more redundancy data. Everything is fail-in-place.

  • 150+4: 3x faster than HDD erasure rebuilds, 2.7% overhead
  • 500+10: 2x faster than HDD erasure rebuilds, 2% overhead Additional redundancy enables MTBF of over 100,000 years at scale.

Read more about that here.

Global Data Reduction

  • Data is fingerprinted in large blocks after the write is persisted in SCM
  • Fingerprints are compared to measure relative distance, similar chunks are clustered
  • Clustered data is compressed together; byte-level deltas are extracted & stored

Read more about that here.

Deployment Options

  • Full Appliance – VAST-provided turn-key appliance
  • Software-Defined – enclosures and container software
  • Software-only – run VAST SW on certified QLC hardware



The storage is the VAST DF-5615 Active / Active NVMe Enclosure.

[image courtesy of VAST Data]


I/O Modules 2 x Active/Active IO Modules
I/O Connectivity 4 x 100Gb Ethernet or 4 x 100Gb InfiniBand
Management (optional) 4 x 1GbE
NVMe Flash Storage 44 x 15.36TB QLC Flash
NVMe Persistent Memory 12 x 1.5TB U.2 Devices
Dimensions (without cable mgmt.) 2U Rackmount

H: 3.2”, W: 17.6”, D: 37.4”

Weight 85 lbs.
Power Supplies 4 x 1500W
Power Consumption 1200W Avg / 1450W Max
Maximum Scale Up to 1,000 Enclosures


Compute is housed in the VAST Quad Server Chassis.

[image courtesy of VAST Data]


Servers 4 x Stateless VAST Servers
I/O Connectivity 8 x 50 Gb Ethernet 4 x 100 Gb InfiniBand
Management (optional) 4 x 1GbE
Physical CPU Cores 80 x 2.4 GHz
Memory 32 x 32GB 2400 MHz RDIMM
Dimensions 2U Rackmount

H: 3.42”, W: 17.24”, D: 28.86”

Weight 78 lbs.
Power Supplies 2 x 1600W
Power Consumption 750W Avg / 900W Max
Maximum Scale Up to 10,000 VAST Servers


Thoughts And Other Reading

One of my favourite things about the VAST Data story is the fact that they’re all in on a greenfield approach to storage architecture. Their ace in the hole is that they’re leveraging Persistent Memory, QLC and NVMe-oF to make it all work. Coupled with the disaggregated shared everything architecture, this seems to me like a fresh approach to storage. There are also some flexible options available for deployment. I haven’t seen what the commercials look like for this solution, so I can’t put my hand on my heart and tell you that this will be cheaper than a mechanical drive based solution. That said, the folks working at VAST have some good experience with doing smart things with Flash, and if anyone can make this work, they can. I look forward to reading more about VAST Data, particularly when they get some more customers that can publicly talk about what they’re doing. It also helps that my friend Howard has joined the company. In my opinion that says a lot about what they have to offer.

VAST Data have published a reasonably comprehensive overview of their soilution that can be found here. There’s also a good overview of VAST Data by Chris Mellor that you can read here. You can also read more from Chris here, and here. Glenn K. Lockwood provides one of the best overviews on VAST Data you can read here.

Western Digital Are Keeping Composed

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 18.  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.

Western Digital recently presented at Storage Field Day 18. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.


Getting Composed

Scott Hamilton (Senior Director, Product Management) spoke to the delegates about Western Digital’s vision for composable infrastructure. I’m the first to admit that I haven’t really paid enough attention to composability in the recent past, although I do know that it messes with my computer’s spell check mechanism – so it must be new and disruptive.

There’s Work To Be Done

Hamilton spoke a little about the increasingly dynamic workloads in the DC, with a recent study showing that:

  • 45% of compute hours and storage capacity are utilised
  • 70% report inefficiencies in the time required to provision compute and storage resources

There are clearly greater demands on:

  • Scalability
  • Efficiency
  • Agility
  • Performance

Path to Composability

I remember a few years ago when I was presenting to customers about hyper-converged solutions. I’d talk about the path to HCI, with build it yourself being the first step, followed by converged, and then hyper-converged. The path to Composable is similar, with converged, and hyper-converged being the precursor architectures in the modern DC.


  • Preconfigured hardware / software for a specific application and workload (think EMC Vblock or NetApp FlexPod)


  • Software-defined with deeper levels of abstraction and automation (think Nutanix or EMC’s VxRail)


  • Disaggregated compute and storage resources
  • Shared pool of resources that can be composed and made available on demand

[image courtesy of Western Digital]

The idea is that you have a bunch of disaggregated resources that can be really used as a pool for various applications or hosts. In this architecture, there are

  • No physical systems – only composed systems;
  • No established hierarchy – CPU doesn’t own the GPU or the memory; and
  • All elements are peers on the network and they communicate with each other.


Can You See It?

Western Digital outlined their vision for composable infrastructure thusly:

Composable Infrastructure Vision

  • Open – open in both form factor and API for management and orchestration of composable resources
  • Scalable – independent performance and capacity scaling from rack-level to multi-rack
  • Disaggregated – true disaggregation of storage and compute for independent scaling to maximise efficiency, agility snd to reduce TCO
  • Extensible – flash, disk and future compassable entities can be independently scaled, managed and shared over the same fabric

Western Digital’s Open Composability API is also designed for DC Composability, with:

  • Logical composability of resources abstracted from the underlying physical hardware, and
  • It discovers, assembles, and composes self-virtualised resources via peer-to-peer communication.

The idea is that it enables virtual system composition of existing HCI and Next-generation SCI environments. It also

  • Future proofs the transition from hyper-converged to disaggregated architectures
  • Complements existing Redfish / Swordfish usage

You can read more about OpenFlex here. There’s also an excellent technical brief from Western Digital that you can access here.


OpenFlex Composable Infrastructure

We’re talking about infrastructure to support an architecture though. In this instance, Western Digital offer the:

  • OpenFlex F3000 – Fabric device and enclosure; and
  • OpenFlex D3000 – High capacity for big data


F3000 and E3000

The F3000 and E3000 (F is for Flash Fabric and E is for Enclosure) has the following specification:

  • Dual-port, high-performance, low-latency, fabric-attached SSD
  • 3U enclosure with 10 dual-port slots offering up to 614TB
  • Self-virtualised device with up to 256 namespaces for dynamic provisioning
  • Multiple storage tiers over the same wire – Flash and Disk accessed via NVMf


The D3000 (D is for Disk / Dense) is as follows:

  • Dual-port fabric-attached high-capacity device to balance cost and capacity
  • 1U network addressable device offering up to 168TB
  • Self-virtualised device with up to 256 namespaces for dynamic provisioning
  • Multiple storage tiers over the same wire – Flash and Disk accessed via NVMe-oF

You can get a better look at them here.


Thoughts and Further Reading

Western Digital covered an awful lot of ground in their presentation at Storage Field Day 18. I like the story behind a lot of what they’re selling, particularly the storage part of it. I’m still playing wait and see when it comes to the composability story. I’m a massive fan of the concept. It’s my opinion that virtualisation gave us an inkling of what could be done in terms of DC resource consumption, but there’s still an awful lot of resources wasted in modern deployments. Technologies such as containers help a bit with that resource control issue, but I’m not sure the enterprise can effectively leverage them in their current iteration, primarily because the enterprise is very, well, enterprise-y.

Composability, on the other hand, might just be the kind of thing that can free the average enterprise IT shop from the shackles of resource management ineptitude that they’ve traditionally struggled with. Much like the public cloud has helped (and created consumption problems), so too could composable infrastructure. This is assuming that we don’t try and slap older style thinking on top of the infrastructure. I’ve seen environments where operations staff needed to submit change requests to perform vMotions of VMs from one host to another. So, like anything, some super cool technology isn’t going to magically fix your broken processes. But the idea is so cool, and if companies like Western Digital can continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with the infrastructure, there’s at least a chance that things will improve.

If you’d like to read more about the storage-y part of Western Digital, check out Chin-Fah’s post here, Erik’s post here, and Jon’s post here. There was also some talk about dual actuator drives as well. Matt Leib wrote some thoughts on that. Look for more in this space, as I think it’s starting to really heat up.