Dell World 2015: The Fiddly Bits

AUSTIN, TEXAS:  Although pretty much overshadowed by the EMC acquisition and a significantly expanded CDW sales relationship, i.e. joining IT’s 800-pound gorilla club and confronting the elephant in the room, there were a number of product and service announcements made at World 2015. They included cloud, and , datacenter, , mobility and . Here’s a brief overview of those announcements and their implications.

The products I found most interesting were the ‘first’ Datacenter Scalable Solutions products targeted at service providers, telecommunications providers and web tech customers. An extension, or expansion of the 9-year-old Data Center Solutions business unit which serves the dozen biggest Internet users, the global hyperscale organizations, DSS is going after the next tier of customers, web tech, telecommunications service providers, hosting companies, oil and gas, and research organizations. Dell said this segment is growing three times faster than the traditional x86 server market and represents a $6 billion-plus total addressable market. Officially unveiled back in August, it has been operating under the radar for the last 12 months, said Jyeh Gan, Director, Product Management and Strategy, DSS.

The TAM for DSS is $6.6 billion, but it will be worth $25 billion, he said. “Because of that growth… we wanted to bring all of that learning from DCS… to all those customers who weren’t the 10-12 hyperscale”.  Customer interest has been high, said Gan. At the time of the August announcement, DSS had grown 460%; since then, it’s now over 800% year-to-year. “We are working with 250-plus customers.”

The announcements included the DSS 7000, what Dell calls the industry’s densest server, capable of delivering up to 720 terabytes of in a single 4U chassis. The DSS 1500, DSS 1510 and DSS 2500 are 1U and 2U that feature a minimalistic design, flexible storage and IO options, industry-standard baseboard management controller (BMC) systems management and the latest Intel Xeon processors.

Alan Atkinson, VP & GM, Dell Storage, calls the SC9000 storage array controller, with all-flash and hybrid flash configurations, “a gamechanger as far as price.” It offers the industry’s lowest cost-per-gigabyte for SSD storage, as low as 65 cents-per-gigabyte net effective capacity “At those price points I think we pretty much have eliminated disk.”

An essential part of the SC9000 announcement is the updated release of Storage Center array software (V6.7). New capabilities include: Live Volume auto-failover for built-in disaster recovery with zero workload downtime and integrated host-side data protection for Oracle, Microsoft and VMware environments; and active data compression capabilities offer up to 93% flash capacity savings.

There appeared to be some confusion over the pending EMC acquisition and what it would mean to Dell’s storage business, including a question about the future of storage with the emergence of cloud storage. With data growing in excess of 50% per year, the storage business — tape, disk, flash and whatever follows — should be around for a very long time. As Dell noted, the amount of storage being bought is not declining, although they are seeing a growth in server-attached/enclosed storage at the expense of external storage. If data is being stored in the cloud, then cloud providers need to be buying more storage.

I got the perspective of Chris Yetman, COO, Vantage Data Centers, on recent storage trends.

Storage capacity growth: While I’m a little less connected here lately on the totals, it’s my belief that the acquisition continues to rise and is keeping pace.  It’s a little scary because I thought a few years ago it would have to peak sometime soon.  I still think that but at the same time it does not seem to be slowing down.

ODM versus name-brand OEMs:  My money is on the ODMs.  The largest consumers of the storage (cloud based providers of IAAS or SAAS/etc.)  don’t care for the brands.  They only look at cost/performance and buy from that.  It puts the brands at a distinct disadvantage over time.  The brands will still hold sway with enterprises for a while longer but even that is likely to fall as the market becomes even more commoditized.  That’s because software is now getting so smart, that you no longer care as much about failures. Think about S3.  Who cares how many disks fail when you have 3 copies of everything?

Flash replacing high-speed (10-15k) disk: Absolutely.  However, that does not make flash the right thing for the whole data center.  So if you were putting up banks of 15k drives for speed, that is largely being overrun by flash and even some SATA SSD’s either of which can outperform 15K disks.  On a cost per GB basis 15k’s are going to continue to get squeezed because the jump to flash is not that bad for the higher end apps.  The thing to keep in mind is that even flash is not going to fair as well as the providers of it would like you to believe.  Smart management of SSD’s gives you awesome performance with a lot lower costs and allows you to use commodity pricing.  It won’t be as fast as flash but it will be good enough for most people at a fraction of the cost.  So for me, the smart money is on SSD’s.

The pending EMC acquisition poses numerous concerns about existing relationships, but Microsoft and Dell announced an integrated, modular hybrid cloud solution for Azure, and Cloud Flex Pay, ‘a compelling, flexible payment solution that transforms CapEx to OpEx, and allows customers to gain experience with usage levels before committing.’ According to the partners, the Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft can be deployed in less than 3 hours.

Additions to Dell’s end-to-end big data and analytics portfolio included enhances enabling customers to run analytics directly where the data lives. A new package of analytics-as-a-service offerings let organizations embed analytics across core processes for industry verticals such as banking, healthcare and insurance.

The analytics offerings open up the potential market, said John Thompson, GM, Advanced Analytics, Dell Software. “We see this as innovation that opens up the population that would be intrested and makes it more relevant to the base as well.”

For the IOT market, there’s the Edge Gateway 5000 Series, targeted at the building and factory automation sectors. It features an industrial-grade form factor, expanded input and output interfaces, and wide operating temperature ranges.

Dell is no stranger to IOT. It says every business that has dealings with the physical world is going to be affected by IoT eventually. With 40, 50 or even 500 billion ‘things’ expected to be connected to the Internet over the next five-plus years, worth $7.1 trillion (2020), small wonder that Dell is actively engaged in this segment.

Developed by IHS Economics in partnership with Dell, the Future Ready Economies Model ‘measures how well an economy is positioning itself for innovation and growth.’ The company said that by using the model, ‘cities, businesses and people can create policies and strategies that will enable their region to prosper and achieve strong economic health.’

For those CISOs dreaming of better security, the company announced a range of solutions, including the Dell SonicWALL APT Protection Solution, integrated management of Dell Networking X-Series switches through the Dell SonicWALL firewall interface, and the addition of Cyren anti-virus signatures to Dell SonicWALL Email Security. Other additions include: the Dell One Identity Cloud Access Manager 8.1 with SaaS-based, multi-factor authentication via Defender as a Service; Dell Data Protection | Cloud Edition 2.0; Dell Data Protection | Server Encryption; Dell Data Protection | Endpoint Recovery solution; and the Dell AEGIS service to help enterprises identify and assess mission-critical application vulnerabilities.

And lest we forget Dell’s roots — or at least the roots planted after Michael moved from selling storage to selling PCs with storage — there is a revamped OptiPlex desktop portfolio, as well as expanded mobility services and solutions. The announcements include a partnership to deliver mobile apps and sites, new tools for customers in the mobile healthcare space, and the Wyse 5050 AIO zero client.

DISCLAIMER: Dell paid for airfare and accommodations.

Author: Steve Wexler

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