Dell EMC Elect Nominations Are Now Open

I’m pleased to announce that nominations for the newly formed Dell EMC Elect program are now open. If you’ve been following along at home you may have noticed that Dell bought EMC last year.


Amongst other things, a decision was made to combine both the Dell TechCenter Rockstar program and EMC Elect program to form this one. I’m also pleased to announce that I’m one of the judges and founders of the new program. Happy days!

So, if you feel like you’re a regular contributor and worthy of joining this group, please nominate yourself or get yourself nominated via this form. If you know someone who’s doing a lot in the community, then don’t hesitate to let us know! Key characteristics of an outstanding Dell EMC Elect candidate include:

  • Engagement – Engaging with the community on various social media channels.
  • Commitment – Being optimistic about the Dell EMC brand day in and day out while still offering honest feedback.
  • Leadership – Helping lead the effort for engagement in their social circle.

Don’t waste any time though, as nominations are open from February 27th until March 17th. So get on it.


Dell EMC Announces Isilon All-Flash

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

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


[image via Dell EMC]



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

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


Use Cases?

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

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


Thoughts and Further Reading

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

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

Dell EMC World 2016 – Closing General Session Notes

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


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


“Innovation Panel” moderated by Aarti Shahani.

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


Malcolm Gladwell (@Gladwell) takes the stage.


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

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

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

Sense of Urgency

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


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

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

Someone who doesn’t believe in the status quo

Things are always more volatile and unstable than we think.

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

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


Kevin Kelly (Founding editor of Wired) takes the stage


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

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

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

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

IQ as a service – flowing like electricity

Next 10000 startups = take X, add AI

What would you do with 1000 minds?

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

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

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

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

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

What can be accessed rather than owned?

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

  • Sharing
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Communities
  • Social Platforms

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

One financial heartbeat? One global economy?

The new machine

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

Technological super-organism

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

We are at the birth of the beginning

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


Tien Tzuo (zuora) takes the stage


Innovation in the subscription economy

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

Who survived?

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

Not just product companies anymore – digital, services

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

What is happening?

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

We have new expectations

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

every industry is shifting

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

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

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

Growth in the new world is about

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

This changes things

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

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

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

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

Discussion Panel to close off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aarti – Debate?

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

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

Kevin – like having kids, make us better.

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

Kevin – who do you want to decide this?

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

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

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


[image courtesy of Jon Klaus]

Dell EMC World 2016 – Opening General Session Notes

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

Looming digital disaster? Over 4000 executives were polled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modernise? Flash, scale out, software defined

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

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

Workforce and workplace transformation are equally important as infrastructure transformation

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

Video of Marcy Klevorn, Ford

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

Partnership with “girls who code

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

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

Back to the survey mentioned earlier

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

The next 15 years?

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

IT spend

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

These apps are different

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

But it’s a workload based decision.

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

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

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

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

Cheesy VXRail video

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

Design shift – move from converged to hyperconverged

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

start small, and growing big.

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

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

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

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

New releases

Commitment to continuous innovation

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

The workplace is changing

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

New (old) challenge around edge security

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

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

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

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

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