What You Missed at Dell EMC World: An Executive Recap Summary

Rob Owen

This year’s Dell EMC World was the first conference that I have been to in my career where I didn’t really know what to expect. I say this because it would be my 13th year attending the event (I missed a few random ones over the years) and every single one of those events Joe Tucci, former EMC CEO, was the keynote speaker. That comfort of knowing what we were going to get from Joe year in and year out was hard to just shrug off as unimportant. With a new leader at the helm, who for CDI historically has been slightly disruptive in certain market verticals over the years, there was a sense of trepidation. Would we spend the entire keynote talking about cheap servers or laptop monitors in lieu of advances data storage technologies? Only time would tell.

What I can tell you out of the gate was that I was really impressed with what I think everyone was hoping for… real integration. What could have been easy to keep EMC and Dell separate like some of the other acquisitions – VMware, RSA, Pivotal and Virtustream – turned out to be a pretty cohesive message about IT transformation. Clearly, Michael Dell knows what he’s doing having just come off what was the largest IT acquisition in history. But, to see it happen live in front or our eyes was nothing short of a collective sigh of relief. This tech juggernaut is really poised to make some serious damage with the combined product offering along with the disparate customer markets they both had locked into prior to acquisition.

I know some people have been worried about the behemoth, especially since we’ve seen other large tech giants start to parcel off sections of the business. Dell however, is clearly going to address a hybrid want and need from their now very diverse coverage model from SMB to enterprise through a transitional IT message. This includes operationalizing some on premise infrastructure and services that people are generally struggling with or just don’t want to put in public clouds.

Anyway, that’s probably enough pontification for now (for now). Next, I’ll break down some points that I thought were interesting from a product and technology perspective, as well as offer some links to articles and blogs that I think are worth a supplemental read.

Dell EMC Delivers Wave of Innovations to Help Customers Realize Digital Transformation Goals

  • Dell EMC delivers major innovation wave to help businesses reinvent themselves for new digital era
  • New technology innovations span all-flash storage, software-defined storage, hyper-converged infrastructure, hybrid cloud and data protection
  • Complementary solutions, services and consumption models provide customers the best of enterprise technology, all in one place

The New 14G PowerEdge Server

This announcement is particular interesting if you consider my opening remarks. The rack mount server industry still represents Dell’s absolute strength in the industry. With low cost, good service, single pane of glass management, expanded APIs and most importantly, the best supply chain in the country you just can’t ignore Dell. So, seeing them focus first on this may seem obvious if you look at it through a historical lens but the real story here is unification. The direction of the EMC division is clearly starting to lean towards hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) platforms with Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). The cornerstone of the unification of the two companies has to be the server and this server honestly looks like an awesome building block. Below are some highlights from Dell’s official press release:

  • Increase application performance and response time: With 19X more Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) low latency storage than the prior generation, Dell EMC leads the industry in driving industry standards in NVMe via Express Flash
  • Get results from PowerEdge faster: One-click BIOS tuning enables quick-and-easy deployment of many processing-intensive workloads
  • Access to the right data at the right time: With enhanced storage capacity and flexibility, customers can tailor their storage configurations to their application needs, this is especially critical in a software-defined-storage (SDS) environment
  • Unify the server management experience and provide full data center monitoring: OpenManage Enterprise is a new virtualized enterprise system management console with application plug-ins, an easy-to-use interface and customizable reporting
  • Speed troubleshooting and maximize server uptime: The enhanced iDRAC 9 provides up to four times better systems management performance over the prior generation
  • Enable faster remediation: ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist can reduce time to resolve parts failure by up to 90%
  • Improve power efficiency and compute density: Automatic multi-vector cooling enables more GPU accelerators in a single configuration, increasing up to 50% more VDI users per server

Hyper-Confusion Solved, or Even More Confusing than Ever?

So, here’s where things start to muddy with options ideas and conceptual architectures that I don’t think anyone (other than maybe me) has mastered. That being said, if you’re completely ignoring HCI right now I would say you are making a neophyte level blunder. This tech is coming, and its coming fast with no clear leader other than maybe Dell EMC.

I know, I know, this sounds super biased – especially if this is your first read of mine.

Some of you may recall my previous article from last year about hyper-confusion, where I basically had a call to action to wait on HCI. Well, I think it’s safe to say there is enough choice and development in this arena today to dip your toes in the water and honestly one of the solutions below could make absolute sense in the right circumstances. I would highly stress that you find someone very well versed in this market before doing so, as there are still a lot of caveats and sadly they are changing on an almost weekly basis as this matures.

I fully believe that the future of the hybrid data center will look more and more converged as people shift to truly software designed solutions and away from the traditional three tier stack on and off premise. It just makes sense… so you should keep reading.

Dell EMC has a bunch of solutions in this space now and there seems to be some confusion across the board on why you should pick some solutions over the other. The VxRail, VxRack SDDC, VxRack Flex, xSAN Ready Nodes and XC (Nutanix OEM) all compete with each other at some levels and have unique features at others. Deciding which one makes sense for your particular use case could require a PHD level thesis without the right person guiding the ship. I think we at CDI have done a great job of making sense of it and steering people in the right way.

Read More:

VxRail Updates:

  • Enhanced enterprise deployment features: Streamlined installation and implementation experience designed to help enterprise customers manage VxRail Appliances at scale. The VxRail Appliance deployment experience, which is optimized to deploy a single appliance in only 20 minutes3, now can be applied to larger cluster sizes, allowing customers to add and manage 10 or more appliances as easily as a single appliance.
  • Additional hardware flexibility lowers total cost of ownership: New single processor options, priced as low as US $25,000 for a three-node cluster, 4 reduce the cost of deploying processor-based licensed software for scaling up to 64 nodes. New network options, including up to 12 additional ports, allow VxRail appliances to be deployed in environments requiring physical network segmentation of workloads.
  • Support for the latest VMware technologies: New VMware vSphere 6.5 and VMware vSAN 6.6 support adds optimized data service algorithms to accelerate flash performance, software-defined data-at-rest encryption to protect against unwanted access to data, and enhanced protection for stretched clusters.
  • Improved interoperability with Dell EMC technologies: Customers deploying VxRail Appliances now can leverage a centralized Dell EMC Secure Remote Services (ESRS) gateway to provide a single point of secure, two-way remote support for their entire Dell EMC infrastructure.

VXRack Updates:

  • Support for more data-demanding applications: VxRack FLEX expands configurations with support for Dell EMC PowerEdge R930, enabling the most data-demanding applications such as OLTP, in-memory databases, OLAP, CRM and ERP.
  • High performance networking architecture for modern data centers: VxRack FLEX now incorporates the next-generation Cisco Nexus 93180YC-EX switches that increase scale, improve performance and natively support software-defined networking.
  • Enhanced hardware flexibility: VxRack SDDC now offers six additional PowerEdge R630-based server nodes for both expanded high performance and entry level options in cores, memory and CPUs.

Dell XC Series (Nutanix) Updates:

  • Dell EMC XC430 Xpress: This new appliance offers small to midsized companies a complete, all-in-one infrastructure solution with robust three-node configurations starting as low as US $25,000. Optimized for the smallest environments up to four nodes, the XC430 Xpress consolidates servers and storage in as small as 3U of rack space to drastically simplify on-site infrastructure.
  • Dell EMC XC Series with Dell EMC Data Protection: Dell EMC Avamar Virtual Edition, Data Domain and Data Domain Virtual Edition with XC Series offer efficient, enterprise-level data protection and simplified backup and disaster recovery, offering capabilities not previously available with the XC Series.
  • Dell EMC XC Series with Pivotal Cloud Foundry®: To rapidly develop and deploy applications to Pivotal Cloud Foundry, XC Series and Pivotal® engineering teams have collaborated to create the ideal configuration and deployment guide, which reduces risk and accelerates a customer’s ability to increase developer productivity and reduce IT operation costs.

Read More:

Dell EMC Announce Operational Cost Models for On-Premise Gear

This one comes with what could be construed as a mildly negative view on what Dell EMC thinks people want. I think there is a tad of a marketing issue at play here, where people have been force fed the idea that they want a consumption based billing model. When you look at this through an alternate view you might realize that unpredictable IT budgets where books have been split with CAPEX / OPEX budgets might not be that easy to unwind for some. I don’t personally believe that the biggest driver to the public cloud is billing. I think its speed, agility and elasticity. So, this announcement albeit a differentiator, is more of a marketing checkbox than real market opportunity. I think people want hybrid and hybrid means a mix of CAPEX and OPEX spend at the financial level.

Chad Sakac has been called long-winded, but his blog is very detailed from a fairly biased perspective. Check out his take on Cloud Flex.

Beefing Up Security with New Data Protection Appliance

Finally, a fully integrated backup system? Can this be the nirvana moment for backup Dell EMC has been trying to pull off since the Legato acquisition so many moons ago?

Dell EMC stated, “The new Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA), a purpose-built, pre-integrated and turnkey appliance that converges protection storage, software, search and analytics in a single appliance, provides data protection across a wide ecosystem of applications and platforms, and offers native cloud-tiering for long-term retention. In addition, Dell EMC also rolling out new capabilities to its cloud data protection portfolio to enable customers to simply and effectively protect and back up their data anywhere, anytime.”

  • Protection storage, protection software, search and analytics in a single, easy-to-deploy, pre-configured appliance
  • Accelerated time to value and high performance – up to 10X faster time to protect than traditional build your own data protection deployment alternatives and 20% faster performance than the closest competitor
  • Expansive coverage for physical and virtual workloads, including support for a wide application ecosystem and multiple hypervisors
  • Coverage can seamlessly extend to the cloud with native cloud-tiering for long-term retention to private or public cloud
  • Encryption, fault detection and healing
  • Brings together industry-leading deduplication (average 55:1 deduplication rate) for data residing both on premise and in the cloud
  • Ability to scale without overhead for the security, reliability and value customers expect from Dell EMC
  • Flash enabled and VMware optimized for instant access and restore of virtual machines, enabling compliance with stringent RPO/RTO requirements for VMware environments

Read More: Dell EMC Launches Integrated Data Protection Appliance and Expands Cloud Data Protection Portfolio.

Storage Product Updates

Finally, we come back to the root of it from Dell EMC’s perspective… storage. Dell EMC still maintains the market leadership position for all flash solutions and doesn’t seem to be slowing down as it relates to developing next generation technologies for the on-premise side of the hybrid cloud.

Unity line (350F, 450F, 550F, 650F)

VMAX 950F – This is a new addition to the VMAX family of products

XtremIO X2 – This is the second generation of this product

SC5020 – Next Gen Compellent storage for SMB

Similarly, EMC also made an announcement around its Isilon storage solution, including all flash and hybrid solutions:

  • New All-Flash version of Isilon scale-out NAS delivers massive storage density and performance for next-gen unstructured data workloads
  • Changes the All-Flash game, delivering multi-protocol access, enterprise data protection and security— all powered by Isilon’s renowned OneFS operating system
  • A single 4U Isilon Scale-Out NAS All-Flash system includes a 4-node Isilon cluster with a maximum of 924TB of capacity, 250,000 IOPS and up to 15GB/s of aggregate bandwidth
  • Provides up to 80% storage utilization; further reduce storage requirements by up to 30% or more using Isilon SmartDedupe data de-duplication
  • A single Isilon scale-out NAS cluster can support 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
  • Seamlessly integrates with existing Isilon clusters and automatically tiers data across Isilon

All-Flash nodes, Isilon SAS HDD nodes and Isilon SATA HDD node

Lastly, VMware introduced integrations with Dell EMC to accelerate workforce transformation:

“Integration between VMware AirWatch® and Dell Client Command Suite will extend remote management capabilities for key Dell hardware system attributes to enhance AirWatch Unified Endpoint Management™ (UEM). Additionally, at Dell EMC World, Dell announced Dell EMC VDI Complete Solutions that will offer a complete desktop and application virtualization solution powered by VMware Horizon® with workload optimized infrastructure, integrated software, optional Dell Wyse thin clients and industry-leading pricing.”

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions, suggestions, or funny jokes, reach me at [email protected].

Rob Owen

Rob Owen, AVP, Chief Architect, CDI

Rob Owen, AVP, Chief Architect, Computer Design & Integration LLC, is an information technology expert focusing on designing, presenting and implementing hybrid IT solutions from IT gold standard providers such as EMC, VMware, Cisco and VCE. He is highly trained and certified in today’s leading technologies and has had great success as an IT consultant where he has architected multi-discipline data center solutions in numerous commercial enterprise businesses, serving a wide variety of industries such as financial services, legal and healthcare/non-profit. Rob’s career also includes hands on expertise with CIO’s and IT managers — helping them assess their business drivers, processes, and existing environments in order to create IT solutions that support and grow their business. In his role, Rob is privileged to represent CDI LLC as a senior panelist and presenter at national IT industry events. Rob graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a BA in Communications and Computer Science.