May 26, 2017

Dell EMC World 2017 Recap

For the first time, Dell Technologies ( organized a new EMC World conference renamed now Dell EMC World, still in Vegas, LV and at the Venetian and Sands expo. Dell Technologies is now the structure above seven business activities: Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware.

The conference was big with 13,500+ attendees coming from 122 countries, 120 sponsors and exhibitors and 310 press, analyst and influencers. It is one of the biggest storage conferences in the world even if it is operated by a vendor and some players such direct competitors can't be present obviously. But we noticed the presence of Aptare, Avere Systems, Caringo, Datos IO, Datrium and Komprise and it was funny to see IBM Global Financing with a booth.

The conference overall topic was the Digital and IT Transformation of the enterprise sustained by new iterations around full flash, cloud, SDS, HCI, data protection and IoT. Dell EMC has made tons of announcements to cover its vast portfolio of products.

Flash announced at all levels of the product line
From enterprise to mid-range segments, from block to file to unified storage platforms:
  • VMAX 950F is the new high-end storage array developing 6.7 million IO/s for RRH and 350μs response times for OLTP. It represents an offering of choice for consolidating open systems, mainframe and IBM i. SRDF, D@RE (Data At-Rest Encryption), inline compression offered with the platform.
  • XtremIO X2 is the new generation with real enhancements such a boost of capacity with up to 138TB per X-Brick able to scale-out up to 8 X-Bricks for a total capacity of 5.5PB of effective capacity of full flash. In addition to deduplication, the XtremIO X2 offers now an integrated CDM (Copy Data Management) capability named iCDM. Hopefully Dell EMC has decided to not provide file access methods, it would have created another confusion in the product line.
  • Unity mid-range product line has four new all-flash models 350F, 450F, 550F and 650F with 80 drives in 3U for 500TB. This line offers iCDM and inline compression in addition to the block and file capabilities.
  • SC5020 is a new hybrid block storage array for entry to mid-range segment with better density, capacity and throughput with new connectivity options: FC, iSCSI and SAS.
  • Isilon with a new full flash model, the F800.
The storage line is pretty large and we're surprised that Dell EMC continues to maintain Compellent and EqualLogic products. At the time we write this article, EqualLogic is still listed on the Dell and Dell EMC web sites. We see the company to consolidate even more the mid-range product line around the Unity family. It's a surprise that Dell EMC didn't really mention and insist on NVMe but flash. In other words, when you really provide a technology, a component or a feature, you mention it. In fact, it was only mention when speaking about the PowerEdge 14G. Globally we see a form of alignment or convergence across the product line with many of family members offering the same set of features.

Software-Defined Storage aka SDS
This is clearly a transversal topic at EMC as the company tried for many years to promote itself as a software vendor. Let's reduce the scope and list only ScaleIO, ECS and Isilon that are scale-out offering as well:
  • ScaleIO receives inline compression, better snapshots, granular thin provisioning and vVol capabilities.
  • ECS with 2 new iterations ECS. Next with extension for analytics and streaming IoT and ECS Dedicated Cloud Service which offers the best of private and public clouds as the environment is secured and dedicated in the Virtustream cloud and appears as a public service.
  • Isilon with the full flash flavor mentioned above and the IsilonSD Edge extension for ROBO locations available for x86 servers like the Dell PowerEdge 14G and support of course ScaleIO, vSAN and vSphere 6.5. Leveraging the 'Infinity' architecture, Isilon runs now OneFS 8.1 and operates as a real product line with 3 sub-lines with capacity, density, file IO/s and throughput in mind: Archive with A200 and A2000, Hybrid with the H600, H500 and H400 and finally the last member, the full flash one, the F800. The last product delivers up to 6x the IO/s, 11x the throughput, and 2x the capacity of the current generation Isilon platform.
Dell also maintains a SDS offering with Nexenta that competes directly with its own solution. We understand the historical reason for that but now it would be good to simplify that but canceling that or add all the others.

HyperConverged Infrastructure aka HCI
This is the third group of key announcements with VxRail Appliances, VxRack Systems and XC Series:
  • VxRail Appliance is now in 4.5 release supporting vSAN 6.6 and vSphere 6.5 and offers a new pricing model.
  • VxRack Systems with VxRack FLEX, now supporting by Dell EMC R930, powered by ScaleIO and VxRack SDDC powered by VMware Cloud Foundation and offering multiple options based on the Dell EMC PowerEdge R630.
  • XC Series with the new XC430 Xpress appliance and the 2 packaged XC Series coupled with Avamar VE, Data Domain and Data Domain VE and with Pivotal Cloud Foundry.
Data Protection
As the owner of three historical products - Avamar, Networker and Data Domain -, Dell EMC must refresh and update its product line and understand the new competition with companies such Rubrik, Cohesity or Datos IO. The storage giant introduced new data protection appliances and an extension to its cloud data protection service. These appliances are named Integrated Data Protection Appliance aka IDPA and available in 4 models: DP5300, DP5800, DP8300 and DP8800 from 34TB to 1PB of usable capacity promoting a 55:1 reduction ratio, search, analytics and encryption capabilities. The battle is pretty active in that segment against companies including Veritas, IBM, NEC with HYDRAstor, Exagrid, HPE and Quantum. Even if the on-premise or device-based data protection seems to be solid, the cloud DP strategy based on Data Domain VE 3.1 is more a 'me too' tactical answer.

Internet of Things aka IoT
Dell EMC introduced the Nautilus project with very limited details. It represents an initiative dedicated to IoT to store and analyze data preserved on Isilon or ECS. It will be interesting to learn more about this project soon as some other vendors such or InfluxData design and promote new scale-out database architecture to sustain high-rate of writes. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, unveiled Pulse IoT Center, a secure IoT infrastructure management solution. Dell EMC Services develops an IoT Technology Advisory Service in addition to the promotion of EdgeX Foundry, an open source software project from Linux Foundation with more than 50 companies. Dell EMC also announced new partnerships especially with Bosch and Atos.

And finally
Dell EMC also unveiled the 14th generation of PowerEdge server aka 14G controlled by Intel but very limited information was available . Some new networking switches were revealed with the S5100-ON series, S4100-ON series and N1100-ON series. Many of the new Dell EMC products can be ordered now and will be available starting next June.

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