Dell’s Storage Forum – 2012 Paris edition – Review

November 18, 2012 Leave a comment

During last week (13 – 16 November 2012), Dell hosted their second European Dell Storage Forum , in Paris and some exciting products have been announced.

The common message send during the even is Dell’s vision of Fluid Data , where the goal is make systems to work better better by leveraging the knowledge within the different Dell’s departments/divisions.

Darren Thomas VP and GM for Dell Storage presented on talking about Dell’s journey, key business values, goals and new product announcements.

Dell Compellent

For the Dell Compellent product range the Storage Center 6.3 was announced (planned availability for beta in early 2013 and general availability in Q2 2013) . This new release promises a 100% performance boost !! ( Dell testing performed on dual SC8000 controllers running OLTP workloads using IOmeter with a 100% random 70/30 read/write mix and 4K sector transfer sizes. Testing using pre-release Storage Center code version 6.3.1.161 versus 6.1.2 code) ,  by having just a software update !! How cool , is to be able to download a piece of software and have such massive performance upgrade !? Also notorious is the fact that the Compellent would be the first array with 16Gb FC end to end support.

Bob Fine (Compellent´s Director) said during the press and bloggers session that the updates would be available for free to customers with existing support, without any need for  downtime or rip and replace. This is a very exciting news for all Compellent’s customers out there!

No doubts that the the upgrade to a 64bit version of the Storage Center done earlier this year during the Storage Forum in London,  was the first step to enable such software improvements as we are knowing now.

Dell MD series & Data Protection

Dell’s MD series has now the version 3 of the firmware , and this version introduces iSCSI based async replication, thin provisioning, VMware VAAI support and SSD based caching. From a service continuity perspective data protection enhancements include dynamic disk pools that simplify disk management and improve rebuild performance by distributing data across all drives, decreasing significant recovery time of drive failures.

Having in mind that the MD series products are designed to maintain up to 99.999 percent availability, good pricing model, good perfomance and a very good set of features, this type of product starts to be very attractive to be deployed as a first SAN solution for many customers out there.

Dell Equallogic

The Equallogic line didn’t had any announcement, however for those who have been paying attention some interesting information has been released. The overall direction is to abstract the software that composes the Equallogic OS from it’s hardware, and this opens the way for running Equallogic as a virtual storage appliance . By doing this , one can only imagine a future where we could leverage the same tools and architecture to run the “typical” Equallogic hardware array at the HQ and have a server with local disks attached running Equallogic as a VSA on a branch office. This is purely my take based on the information mentioned during the event, so please don’t take for granted this possible scenarios.

Dell Backup products

Within the  data protection layer , Dell added new products for their portfolio including an AppAssure based appliance (Dell PowerVault DL4000), a Quest based solution (Quest NetVault Backup 9.0) and a CommVault based solution (Dell Powervault DL2300).

I must confess that at this moment it’s somehow unclear to me what’s the strategy of Dell on the backup area due to the fact that they have too many products. I look forward for the coming months to see how products will evolve and perhaps be consolidated .

My view 

There’s no doubt that the concepts of Fluid Data and Working Better Together are working out and have a tremendous potential to go much beyond the current reach , however the challenge will be how to combine the power of all the acquisitions done so far, in a timely way and keeping the dedicated balance of time to market vs product quality .

Dell has indeed an extensive set of IP within the organization and this allows Dell to be in a very interesting position within the market to become a true leader in the area.

It’s definitely a very interesting time to be involved within the IT Storage Industry , and I’m truly excited to see what the future holds in terms of strategy execution of Dell.

If you haven’t been present on a Dell Storage Forum I highly recommend you to do so, since you can have access to a wide range of hands-on-labs , as well as the possibility to brainstorm with several Dell exec’s and IT professionals.

The next Dell Storage Forum will be :

As such, see you soon or wir sehen uns bald !

For more information about the Dell Storage Forum 2012 Paris please check the official website .

Dell’s “Fluid Forward Think Tank – Let’s Talk Storage” – wrap-up

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

During the Dell Storage Forum in Paris, I’m have invited to be part of something called the ” Think Thank ” discussion,

Image

where basically Partners , Customers and Dell brainstorm regarding several topics within the IT industry.

For the discussion moderation we had Simon Robinson, Research Vice President of 451 Research and representing partners & customers I was privileged to share ideas with

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was there “officially” with a Blogger hat on

Image

, but I represented a end-customer / IT Architect perspective.

The conversation started off with an introduction of all the folks present at the table, and we had a nice mix of expertise around us , like storage administrators (obviously ! ), to systems architects, systems integrators.

Several topics were part of the discussions regarding Chargeback or cost-awareness also known as IT Show Back , systems/solutions convergence strategy , relationships between Dell, Partners (a reseller must deliver a very clear  Value Added pitch or else is pointless) to trust towards/from the Vendor , manageability , roadmaps , build IT your own vs buy IT pre-configured , etc…

Quite interesting is the fact that despite the significantly different backgrounds we all have , the key concerns/ideas around all of us, were:

  • the traditional storage model vs the so called software defined storage with their good and bad things
  • flash …everyone understands flash and it would fix a lot of problems, however the problem is still  the, high, cost
  • scale-out vs scale-up approach
  • who’s now in control ? the software vendors or the hardware vendors ?
  • storage moved away from servers to shared environments, and now is going back to server again ?
  • backup & restore .. how to deal with the fact that no one deletes data and we must be able to backup it up and restore it if needed
  • bit expectations towards Windows 2013, HyperV 3, SMB3.0
  • deduplication as an option we want vs a “necessary evil”
  • Dell’s ability to execute their strategy based on buying a significant amount of companies, while keeping the support level as good as (if not better) and being able to integrate their IP rather than just sell it as a new product
  • FcOE vs iSCSI (always a fun topic!)
  • Management tools (or lack of )
  • Cloud…we all agree that we use it , but we don’t adopt it !🙂

At the end of the discussion we all agree that there’s no technology that can meet everyone’s needs, and at the end of the day the most import thing is to make a solid design for your environment and see what’s the right tool for the job. The main key conclusion is that any business, independently from their size and area of business, must see IT as a business enabler and not as a cost center, and IT staff may need to learn a bit more of Business Politics🙂

I honestly had a very pleasant time during the debate, and I look forward for the next opportunity to have a new discussion , to see if and how the discussed concerns have been mitigated/minimized.

As we all know that one image worths more than 1000 words here’s some , great, topics captured and illustrated during the session .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The session had a live stream, so you can check them out !

Finally thanks to Dell media team , Alison Krause and Michelle Richards for inviting me for the event, and for their support in making sure everything goes…Fluid🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Dell Storage Forum 2012 Paris –

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Only few days for the start of  second EMEA Dell Storage Forum 2012, in Paris. I’m sure that this will be a very interesting event with several opportunities to attend to hands-on sessions, panel discussions, brainstorm sessions , etc..

One of the best parts of this type of event is the fact that Dell takes it quite seriously , yet quite informal,  way since top executives , engineers are available to discuss ideas one on one . Nothing beats a vendor that actually listens first to the customer and moves into to the sales pitch after…

The second best part of this gathering is the outstanding amount of social media / networking / place your favorite expression here , events.

Here’s a glimpse into the planned events :

  • November 14th , Wednesday, Fluid Forward Think Tank.  Simon Robinson, Research Vice President of 451 Research will be moderating this forum . As usual this is way to discuss the trends , challenges, real-life expericences related to storage . If you can’t be in Paris, this event will have a  live-streaming!  . Twitter stream available with #FluidForward
  • November 14th , Wednesday night ,#StorageBeers! Starting at 9:00pm, right after the Welcome Celebration, at Havane Café. Feel free to drop by to get in touch with some old friends and take the opportunity to make new ones !
  • During the event head down to the Fluid Lounge. Get some extra energy for your smartphone/tablet/laptop/ yourself !, and get in touch with some real nice folks like Barry CoombsFabio RapposelliAndrew Mauro,  Didier Van Hoye , Rasmus Haslund  , Charles GillandersAndreas Erson , Tom Heskestad and  sure… myself as well  – Bruno Sousa.

Take some  time and make sure follow , @DellSF!  The hashtag for the event is #DellSF – so keep  it to your tweets, posts, images, etc . To keep up with the conversation  just take a look @ Tweetchat .

Keep an eye for  Liem Nguyen from CommVault  and also for the fine connoisseur  of fine beers, Hans de Leenheer

Last but not least…in case of any information needed just ask to  Michele Richard  or Alison Krause and check out the Dell Forum webpage  .

 

Au revoir!

Categories: Dell, IT Events Tags: , , , ,

#storagebeers – Paris 2012

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Dell Storage Forum 2012 Paris is right around the corner and with that an opportunity for #storagebeers came along.

The purpose of this gathering is to get in touch with fine folks and ladies , and start , to discuss IT Storage related issues. As the time goes and people get more acquainted with each other the number of subjects discussed are mind blowing.

Feel free to drop by and you will find a friendly , informal and , quite, informative event.

And without further chit·chat make sure you book your agenda for November, 14th 21H Havane Café ,Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, 75013 Paris.

Be there or be square ! :)  #storagebeers#dellSF #dsf

And now – An intro to Dell Storage Forum ,London, UK

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment

The year of 2012 starts in high gear mode, and iam truly very pleased to announce that i have been invited to attend the Dell Storage Forum in London between January 9-12 .

I have been monitoring very closely the path of Dell of moving from an IT hardware manufacturer into a company that provides IT services , and given the progress made in the enterprise storage, this event will allow me to learn even more about Dell’s products and strategy .

As usual Dell has this event very well covered within the Social Media , and for that i give my hat to Gina Minks and Alison Krause. To get all the information related to this event from a social media point of view check out this great blog post by Gina, and follow the hashtag #DellSF12 .

The event will be packed of leading IT folks , like :

Dell

Bloggers

I will provide more information during/after the event, so feel free to re-visit this blog any time soon🙂

Disclaimer:

This is an event sponsored by Dell ,and therefore all  my travel and living expenses to attend the Storage Forum are covered by Dell. However, my independency as an IT profissional/blogger is guaranteed. I will attend the Storage Forum due to the fact that within my professional area Dell plays a vital role and knowledge is power

A year back …how did IT happened

January 5, 2012 1 comment

It has been quote some time i last updated this blog, but my work has been overwhelming. The year of 2011 is pretty much gone, and i think i would be a great time to share some information regarding the journey i have taken to  achieve a better quality in the IT services delivered at my work.

I pretty sure that anyone that works in IT has quite some interesting issues to deal with , so read this post keeping in mind the “Your milleage may vary” slogan.

As such ,first things first, and let me start by giving some stats about my current IT environment to better understand what kind of issues i talk about and what decisions have been made to achieve a better quality in the IT services delivered .

HQ IT environment – As of January 2011

  • A user base of around 500 , where 50% are WinXP based (laptops and pc’s), 35% thin client based (Windows and Linux Terminal servers based) and 15% based on either HP-UX workstations or high-end PC workstations (XP based as well)
  • Data shared across Windows, Linux and HP-UX environments, using CIFS, NFS and a big amount  of “creative solutions”
  • Network topology based on 3Com/HP switches , with 1GbE as the dominant link speed. No network redundancy/resiliency deployed, either by using link aggregation, STP, or any other technique. Network strategy based on ad-hoc tasks/growth .
  • Windows 2003 as the main file server, with around 7.5 TB of data
  • Oracle environment with 12+ instances, using 3TB worth of data with it’s own storage solution (Open-E , NFS based)
  • Opensolaris as the NAS/SAN environment, for NFS, and iSCSI
  • Usage of end-of-support x86 servers from Sun
  • Usage of Citrix XenServer as our ,only,Virtualization Hypervisor
  • Server farm of around 80 physical servers, x86 based servers, and 80 virtual machines
  • Usage of a miriade of different applications by the business, that had lower and lower availability due to systems crashing, lack of monitoring and “weird issues”
  • Team of 6 persons, with 5 of them allocated at 100% to sysadmin tasks, and 1 (myself) with time spited as Sysadmin, Technical IT Leader, Infrastructure Consultant and many many other activities
  • Workload of IT team members around 11.5 hours work/day , 6 days/week
  • IT environment managed from 6am until 1am CEST time
  • IT budget and Business needs with a big mismatch , leading to wrong expectations and bad IT services with a direct consequence of end-user lack of trust in IT

HQ IT environment problems – As of January 2011

  • IT could not meet the increasing demand from Business to support more and more applications with a higher SLA (higer means something better than best effort ) and lower RTO/RPO
  • Ever increasing pain to backup data, mainly data hosted using virtualization
  • Users demand to access the same data any time, any where, from multiple devices, while IT couldn’t deal with this demand
  • Network errors and bottleneck encountered without a proper way to troubleshooting it
  • Storage devices suffering from multiple crashes, leading to lengthy repair times and increasing user’s frustration
  • Lack of support from a vendor that could go beyond the sales phase,or in other words lack of partnership with vendors in order to sell a solution rather than selling equipment
  • IT department in charge of designing a new datacenter/network/IT environment for the new HQ to be ready at 2012 while keeping/improving the current environment

By now you , probably, have  a good picture of the environment and i hope you can map this specific environment to your own and hopefully you can take some good tips/points from this post.

Gladly for me (i work for having what i have by the way), i have the type of managers that actually listen to what i say and take me seriously and based on that , by the end of 2009 major decisions have been made by me and supported by my direct manager(s) and from other key users within the organization. Those decisions where made in terms of strategy of the servers/storage to use, network design, virtualization, backup and what can be done or not with the time/budget/resources available aKa expectations management .

The most critical decisions made in late 2009 where:

  • Selection of a new IT (servers, laptops, PCs, storage) vendor. The choice was Dell , due to their good products but more important due to the fact that Dell was committed to work out with us to find a solution and not only to sell servers/desktops. Dell has proved to be a partner to us , that help us to find a solution rather than going directly to the sales phase.
  • Selection of a new storage solution, based on iscsi technology – Dell Equallogic
  • Selection of a new network vendor, to be used only for the new datacenter/HQ – Juniper
  • Decision of adopting a layered approach for the virtualization hypervisor in use. This basically means that for diferent SLA, RTO/RPO of an application to be virtualized either Citrix XenServer or VMWare can be used. For lower SLA’s it has been decided to use Citrix XenServer and VMWare as the foundation block of our new environment to support critical business applications, like Databases, CRM, PLM , etc
  • Decision of moving ( not consolidation per se) any x86 workload from a physical environment into a virtualized one, unless specific cases (for instance if a vendor doesn’t support virtualization for their product, like Product License Servers)
  • Decision of stopping to use the current backup tool (EMC Legato) to backup of virtualized environments. PHD Virtual Backup for Citrix XenServer selected and Veeam for VMware environments . EMC Legato is still our corporate tool to backup any physical server, and i don’t see moving away from such tool anytime soon
  • Provide IT Team members training in core technologies, like storage, networking and virtualization

Fast forward a year later , and here we are with outstanding results.

That are many advantages seen in our IT landscape but above all the business recognizes that the time to deliver a service from IT has decreased and the IT can now actually suggest and support and SLA towards the several business units .

Key factors for success

  • Selection of the right IT vendor/partner rather than just focus on a pure technical point of view
  • Don’t get impressed by buzzwords used by vendors..For instance if vendor A says “Our storage uses a 64 bit OS” , ask to yourself and to the vendor what advantage such feature will bring to your environment . In other words, make smart questions, and do some research prior any talk with any vendor
  • Plan, execute, invest in creating tasks in an automatic mode with proper error handling
  • Invest proper time/efforts in the art of End-User Expectation Management
  • Don’t get stuck to procedures just because they exist for long time.The fact they exist for long time, doesn’t mean they are still suitable for the the present/future needs
  • Attend industry recognized seminars , like given by Greg Schulz  – @storageio(http://www.storageio.com/)
  • Attend industry recognized events, like VMWare World ( http://www.vmworld.com )
  • Invest time in reading blogs, whitepapers, attending webcasts and social media (mainly Twitter)

To wrap up i need to say thank you to some key persons i meet over Twitter that have helping me in many ways for the past 18 months.

Here’s the list (without any sort of preference) , based on categories:

Veeam

@RickVanover  (good technical discussion at VMWorld 2011 Copenhagen ! Looking forward for VMWorld 2012 in Barcelona🙂 )

@gostev (If you’re into Veeam…this guy r0cks ! )

@VMDoug

Dell

@DellTechCenter

@DennisMSmith

@KongYang

@JeffSullivan

@supertsai

@iSCSIKing

@PeterVerwulgen

@VirtWillU

@jasonboche

@RafaelKnuth

@gminks ( You’re probably the acquisition made by Dell, regarding how can  social media should be done within a business ! )

Virtualization – VMware

@DuncanYB

@FrankDenneman

@esloof

@lamw

IT people

@hansdeleenheer

@cbarneveld

7IDC9P

VMworld gathering / vbeers / vstorage / social networking

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

For those of you who are attending the VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen, please feel free to drop by at the Hard Rock Café located at København (city center) for some gathering.

The purpose of this gathering is discuss topics around IT, specially storage and virtualization , and to, off course, do some social networking.. After all IT people are above all : real life persons with life beyond IT.

So  feel free to drop by starting at 18.30 (i will wait at least until 20H) for some chat, beers and snacks…To make things easier i will have my VMworld badge on top of the table, so don’t be shy and just introduce yourself !
To make things even easier, here’s a map from Google and one from Hard Rock Café itself .

 

Hope to see you soon

Bruno | @bsousapt