Last monday I flew to Frankfurt to attend the Dell Enterprise Forum. This is the European version of the event hosted in the US in the second half of the year and, as often happens in these cases, it’s much smaller and less crowded than the “original” one.

The event and the location

imageThis kind of event is perfect for partners and customers and helps to close the gap between the vendor and its user base. The Vendor brings experts, people who actually work on products and technology, and gets useful feedback while users and partners find what can’t be found elsewhere in terms of networking, education and information. In other words, the message is delivered in a direct way (not diluted!) right from the horse’s mouth!

Well, you can’t say they didn’t choose a great location! It was right next to the Airport. I just had to walk down a hallway directly connected to the terminal and I was in the Hotel. Brilliant.

Little event, little news

Due to the nature of the event you can’t expect loads of news actually, but some deserves to be mentioned.

Compellent Storage Center will soon receive a new version of its operating system (6.5) which will add some interesting stuff: compression (up to 1.7x the space for the lower tiers) and Fluid Cache for SAN (more on this later).

z9500.png-550x0A new impressive network switch, the Z9500 model, capable of providing up to 132 40GbE ports (or 528 10GbE ports in breakout mode!), a massive 10Tbs throughput, an incredibly low latency and a smart licensing pay-as-you-grow model. I’m not a networking guy but this stuff sounds terribly good to me, doesn’t it to you?

Back to Fluid Cache

Even though server side caching is not a unique feature, Dell has shown a really interesting solution capable of giving you the best of two worlds. In fact, the biggest issue with server side caching is the integration between the flash cache and the storage features (especially most sophisticated ones like snapshots and replicas): Dell has solved it.

Dell Fluid Cache is transparently integrated with Compellent Storage Center, giving the user full certainty about data consistency on any type of operation. Furthermore, the caching layer is managed through the same (functional) tool that manages the rest of the storage platform, helping the system administrator to get a better and more complete view of what is really happening at the whole storage level.
Basically this is the advantage of an end-to-end integration.

StorageReview-Micron-P320h-Dell-Express-Flash-CaddyThe product will soon be available (Dell’s Q2) for Linux and VMware while Microsoft support will come later this year. The wide variety of supported operating systems makes this solution even more appealing in some circumstances.

No Software-defined play, at the moment

Throughout the event, Dell was very vague when it came to possible future software-defined solutions for storage and hyper-converged infrastructures, staying on the defensive the whole time.
Somewhat strange I would say, especially when you take into account they are doing so well with their server lineup and that this kind of solution would be a perfect fit for them and their partners.
To be totally honest, other topics were also touched upon only briefly (like cloud for example) but given the context and the audience, it sounded modem acceptable.

Why it is important for you

Dell, with Fluid Cache and compression, is going towards the right direction both in terms of performance and efficiency. Compellent’s customers will be happy about these new features.
At the same time, I hope to see more in the future about the efficiency of the first SSD tier (inline compression and/or deduplication would be great for example).

On the Software-defined side I hope to see more soon.

…And just a quick final note (to the Dell people): I, as an advisor and a blogger, was not totally satisfied by the event. I had some really good chats with execs, end users and marketing people but, at the end of the day, I totally missed there not being any interesting sessions about product roadmaps, future strategy and so on. I don’t know, it was probably a misunderstanding with the organization, but other bloggers had the same identical agenda and concerns. I hope that the promised briefs will follow soon.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this meeting by Dell and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than the Juku team.