What the Dell just happened? – Dell Storage Forum Sydney 2012 – Part 2

Disclaimer: I recently attended the Dell Storage Forum Sydney 2012.  My flights and accommodation were covered by Dell, however 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.

Part 2

In this post I’d like to touch briefly on some of the sessions I went to and point you in the direction of some further reading. I’m working on some more content for the near future.


Dell AppAssure Physical, Virtual and Cloud Recovery

If you’re unfamiliar with AppAssure, head over to their website for a fairly comprehensive look at what they can do. Version 5 was recently released. Dan Moz has been banging on about this product to me for a while, and it actually looks pretty good. Andrew Diamond presented a large chunk of the content while battling some time constraints thanks to the keynote running over time, while Dan was demo boy. Here’s a picture with words (a diagram, if you will) that gives an idea of what AppAssure can do.

(Image source – http://www.appassure.com/downloads/Transform_Data_Protection_with_Dell_AppAssure.pdf)

Live Recovery is one of my favourite features. With this it’s “not even necessary to wait for a complete restore to be able to access and use the data”. This is really handy when you’re trying to recover 100s of GB of file data but don’t know exactly what the users will want to access first.

Recovery Assure “detects the presence of Microsoft Exchange and SQL and its respective databases and log files and automatically groups the volumes with dependency for comprehensive protection and rapid recovery”. The cool thing here is that you’re going to be told if there’s going to be SNAFU when you recover before you recover. It’s not going to save your bacon every time, but it’s going to help with avoiding awkward conversations with the GM.

In the next few weeks I’m hoping to put together a more detailed brief on what AppAssure can and can’t do.


A Day in the Life of a Dell Compellent Page: How Dynamic Capacity, Data Instant Replay and Data Progression Work Together

Compellent bought serious tiering tech to Dell upon acquisition, and has really driven the Fluid Data play that’s going on at the moment. This session was all about “closely following a page from first write to demotion to low-cost disk”. Sound dry? I must admit it was a little. It was also, however, a great introduction to how pages move about the Compellent and what that means to storage workloads and efficiency. You can read some more about the Compellent architecture here.

The second half of the session comprised a customer testimonial (an Australian on-line betting company) and brief Q & A with the customer. It was good to see that the customer was happy to tell the truth when pushed about some of the features of the Compellent stack and how it had helped and hurt in his environment. Kudos to my Dell AE for bringing up the question of how FastTrack has helped only to watch the customer reluctantly admit it was one of the few problems he’d had since deploying the solution.


Media Lunch ‘Fluid Data and the Storage Evolution’

When I was first approached about attending this event, the idea was that there’d be a blogger roundtable. For a number of reasons, including availability of key people, that had to be canned and I was invited to attend the media lunch instead. Topics covered during the lunch were basically the same as the keynote, but in a “lite” format. There was also two customers providing testimonials about Dell and how happy they were with their Compellent environments. It wasn’t quite the event that Dell had intended, at least from a blogger perspective, but I think they’re very keen to get more of this stuff happening in the future, with some more focus on the tech rather than the financials. At least, I hope that’s the case.


On the Floor

In the exhibition hall I got to look at some bright shinies and talk to some bright folks about new products that have been released. FluidFS (registration required) is available across the Equallogic, Compellent and PowerVault range now. “With FluidFS, our unified storage systems can manage up to 1PB of file data in a single namespace”. Some people were quite excited about this. I had to check out the FS8600, which is the new Compellent Unified offering.

I also had a quick look at the Dell EqualLogic PS-M4110 Blade Array which is basically a PS4000 running in a blade chassis. You can have up to 4 of these things in a single M1000e chassis, and they support 14 2.5″ drives in a variety of combinations. Interestingly you can only have 2 of these in a single group, so you would need 2 groups per chassis if you fully populated it.

Finally I took a brief gander at a PS6500 Series machine. These are 4RU EQL boxes that take up to 48 spindles and basically can give you a bunch of tiering in a big box with a fairly small footprint.



As an attendee at the event I was given a backpack, water bottle, some pens, a SNIA Dictionary and a CommVault yo-yo. I’ll let you know if I won a laptop.

I may or may not have had some problems filling out my registration properly though.





















Thanks, etc

For an inaugural event, I thought the Dell Storage Forum was great, and I’m stoked that vendors are starting to see the value in getting like-minded folk in the same place to get into useful tech stuff, rather than marketing fluff. Thanks to @DanMoz for getting me down there as a blogger in the first place and for making sure I had everything I needed while I was there. Thanks also to the Dell PR and Events people and the other Dell folks who took the time to say hi and check that everything was cool. It was also nice to meet Simon Sharwood in real life, after reading his articles on The Register and stalking him on twitter.


  1. Can you share why fastrack has been a problem for the customer ??

    Thanks !

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  3. Hi Sam,
    In short, if you mix disk sizes in the same tier and use FastTrack, you’re going to get some fairly uneven results.

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