Before I start, this is written on my own free time and without any guns aimed at my head. It is 100% my thoughts and you may or may not like it. As always, I won't re-read what I wrote so expect typos and similar mistakes.
One things I noticed lately is that I tend to always forget something when travelling. In this case I forgot flip flops and shaving cream. As I'm staying at Venetian, I was told that I could ask for shaving cream and would be brought to me free. Hm, never thought of that, but ok, why not. And indeed, that's what happened. Very nice. I noticed that hotels around the world tend to have "women kits" available, but nothing ever for men. So, I see this as some kind of justice (even one must ask for it).
I arrived to Vegas on Saturday evening and after taking shuttle to hotel I just crashed to bed. Plan was to get some rest for my back, but my eyes and brain completely shut off so next station was 2am next day. Seeing what time it is, I just continued to dream of whatever, but then around 5am I got call from a friend who didn't know I was in Las Vegas and dream was over. Day 0, as I call it, was used to connect with peers from EMC Elect and Dutch delegation. It is nice to see Dutch delegation growing year by year. Day 0 was kind of mixed bag weather wise... a little bit of rain, a little bit of sun, a little bit of clouds... a little bit of everything. We did visit Nellis dunes for quick ride of buggies and that was interesting experience. The day came quickly to closure. Of course, before going to sleep, we also picked up our passes. This year this was really speedy as with app on smartphone you would just scan it and your data would be in. So, nice touch. However, app has flows too. If you add private times for your schedule on web, this is not synced with app. You may think your schedule is in your pocket, but it is not. Rather annoying. Actually, as of Monday it doesn't show Wednesday
Bag given out with materials this year is really really nice - totally usable outside World too. There was less promo materials inside and no goodies as last year, but what striked me the most was that I could not find any pen inside (at least my bag didn't have it).
Before and After: Jon and me, myself and I (and Roy Mikes behind the camera)
Day 1 started early again. Actually, when I think about it, I think unplanned wake up call was on Day 1 and not 0. It doesn't matter. Being EMC Elect can get you passes to many places. For example, exclusive breakfast opportunity along with VMWare vExperts. I admit, I had some challenges locating the room where it was, but found in time and breakfast was really nice. I got the chance to chat with certain highly positioned guy whose name escapes me, but it was nice talk. One thing I asked him was does he feel threatened by Microsoft as when talking about public clouds (or clouds in general) people always mention AWS and Azure. So, Azure is kind of the backdoor to premisse in terms of hypervisors. If your company will use Azure, most likely you wish to keep some kind of "same language" on premise too. Of course, future belongs to many clouds as it seems and at some point perhaps even virtualization between clouds will be made (as history repeats itself), but today we are where we are. I was told that lately relationship between two entities are more of collaborative nature. And that makes sense. People do not like fights and it is bad for business. People like choices and flexibility. But I can think of other reasons too. Having industry giants collaborating, they also slow down startups and their disruptions. Next 5 years will be interesting as right now everyone is hunting for better position. Dell EMC Technologies believes future belongs to multiple clouds and as it seems they will focus their development in that area.
Emptiness of Day -1
As my 1st session of interest was scheduled for noon, I went to see "lobby area" where usually we have different longues spread and you can meet some folks you didn't see for long time. This year longue area attracted much more people and felt much more lively. While social and Elect longues were the same as previous year, it was obvious more people were present.
More was available on the floor, but let's keeping simple
At 10am time is reserved for first general key session. In the past people were used to Joe Tucci - now it's Michael Dell. But stage was taken first by Jeremy Burton who gave overview of what will happen. Actually, he started a bit before 10am. I must say say there was a river of people going to this session - much more than earlier years. I noticed couple of interesting things when it comes to people. There is way more women this year. This is welcome change. Not sure if this is due to Dell thingy and if these are core IT folks, but at least it improves picture overall. Second, I noticed more Asian people and last - less Indian people. Not sure why. Normally, and here I mean no disrespect or be racist, but in the past you would see many Indian folks who were support engineers. Compared to earlier years I see less of them.
Anyway, back to Jeremy. Jeremy also had his kid on stage demonstrating the game which one could play against him each day at 4pm (called Beat The Teen) and that was funny part. Game is called Servercraft and it is based on Warcraft of course. Then MIchael Dell kicked in. As each year, it was a story about IT transformation, where we are, where we are headed and how future looks like with fresh input of numbers showing how good Dell EMC Technologies are in that area. I really liked his sentence where he said cloud was not a place, but the way how we're doing IT. There were couple of customer references in terms to backup the claims so we had opportunity to hear folks from Sony and Jaguar. Later on Karen Quintos (Chief Customer Officer) took the stage too to explain what is Ocean Plastics (at that point, I realized this was the reason why longue area had so much environmental spots). Believe it or not, Dell created 1st commercial program to collect plastic from oceans and does recycle those to be used in some of their laptop lines. Cool!
One thing that is always interesting is how digital transformation is changing digital workplace (actually workplace in general). I mean, think about things 10 years ago. It was all about how virtualization was important. Cloud is rarely mentioned, and if mentioned, it was seen as something as hype. When I look back at all EMC World's I attended, I see consistency and I think this is really important and their vision and predictions do play out and they never pretended this to be any hype at all. Michael Dell, as seen on picture below, went down the memory lane too by remembering how he was impressed by calculator back in his youngster's days. Obviously, time between innovation and change is now much more rapidly increasing. You are either in or out.
This was last picture I could take from close before security told me to take a hike
When you have so many people in one room, it is hard to take good place even it doesn't matter as you have everything on big screen. However, since I had camera I went a bit front and took few closer shots before security asked me to leave. Which brings me to another topic - security (not RSA). This is the first time that I have seen during the World there were armed officers around. Also, I have seen patrols with dogs (explosives?) which was also new. It might have been standard practice, but in the past it was not visible - now it is. Oh yes, and good portion of the speech was about new Dell 14G servers.
Some things are not visible though. Magic for example. Michael Dell started to talk how Dell Technologies are pure magic and then show could start. Talking about magic "irritated" David Blaine who was in the audience so David decided to show Michael (and us) what real magic is.
I believe Michael Dell knew which trick would be performed, but David in addition did second one which left Michael Dell obviously puzzled. Then two folks from audience were picked up and and rather interesting tricks were performed with them. Last one, including ice pick penetrating David's hand, made female assistant made some priceless face expressions.
Last trick was demonstrated in presence of David Goulden, but as lunch time was there people started to leave the place. David made clear what EMC strategy is about:
- Cloud - hybrid, private or public - all is supported and Dell Technologies wants to continue their domination in offering services
- Infrastructure - which translates to modernise, automate and transform. Dell Technologies wishes to be partner to customers on this journey with well known buzzwords like flash, scale-out, software-defined everything and cloud enabled. As something to help with, David continued with more details about 14G servers (to be available as soon as new Intel Xeon is out; nice lady from Intel joined the stage there). Then there is new VxRail, then new VMAX 950F, new ScaleIO.Next, new XtremIO v2, new Unity and SC servers (though Unity will surely have to change the name as per recent court decision) and new Isilon.
- Service and consumption
At the end, new DPS product were also mention, but by this time people were really leaving for lunch and not everyone like cares about data protection. However, I will cover some new things later on.
I also had to run to catch my first session titled "Dell EMC Cloud Data Protection: Starting Your Cloud Journey". This was very general and very short so not really my cup of the tea. Some general things could be heard and nothing really exciting to be honest. It started with question if cloud data needs protection. This is still something that leads to common misconception as cloud vendors strongly their availability. Aside from that promise, which they may or may not keep, but with more cloudification I suspect it will become also a bit challenging to keep these promises, you must be aware that you are owner of data. What is the primary reason for loosing data? Human factor, as always. So, if you (by mistake or not) say delete A B C then A B C is gone. Cloud provider did what you said. Want it back? Sure, do you have cloud data protection? And that's the thing. Data protection wise, Dell EMC Technologies is obviously focussed on following 4 tiers:
- Private cloud (this is on premise)
- Extend to cloud (cloudboost or DD VE)
- In cloud protection (AWS data protection which is in beta, but I would dare to say future DD VE as well)
- Data protection as a service (this is Spanning for SaaS)
We learned a bit more about newly announced DR to cloud with DD Cloud DR. This product works in combination with Avamar and DD. Once you have backup made with Avamar, copy is sent to AWS. Now, if you lost your DC, you have copy in AWS which will convert your VM and run as EC2 instance on demand. No further details were given (but you will get those in Day 2 article). Another announcement is DDVE in AWS and Azure as public clouds. As I was interested in Azure I asked couple of questions, but only things I got back was that this is first offering up to 16TB (15TB for Azure) and that initially it uses block storage only. Some more details I learned more later same day so keep reading. At the end of the day, session that didn't really made much sense as it felt as no questions are welcome and that more specialized sessions should be visited. Speaker (Efri) was a bit boring for my taste.
Lunch was a bit of surprise. While breakfast offering was same as any other year before, lunch has seen small piece of steak. Well, you can see that Michael Dell is from Texas I thought. Later on one guy told me only us Europeans can call that steak as it is small. Hm, why would anyone expect 13k+ full blown steaks to be served?
Mobile phone shot
As previous session was short that gave me enough time to squeeze in lunch so that I can get to EMC Elect session about new PowerEdge server. Well, guy(s) never showed up so nothing to do there so did another walkie tour.
Yes, there was even service which would help you for free with LinkedIn profile and professional photographer that would make appropriate business photo so that you look way better than you are without much photoshop - it's all about light and angles
If you are coming to World once again, you get welcome back gift when you register - $20 voucher to be spent at marketplace. Well, I spent exactly $20 so my end cost was 0. What did I buy? Check it out
To some Donald & Trump, to some Donald & Hillary, to me present for my daughter
Next session was called "Dell EMC Cloud Data Protection: In Cloud & As A Service Data Protection" by Bryan Hicks. I really liked this session and Brian is good speaker (he was not boring for a moment). Brian told us of interesting evolution point of view and what we see:
|Customer needs||Traditional applications||Native cloud infrastructure||Build cloud native apps|
|Challenges||Cloud native apps|
Management / Scale
Feels like running in circles, right? Obviously transition is needed and based on your needs and workloads, you will most likely have couple approaches which at some far end may also be couple of clouds. Just like previous speaker, he also warned about people thinking backup in cloud is not their business, but they are wrong. He also gave insight into this for AWS. I made a screenshot on my laptop now so you can easily see it for yourself as URL is there. It is YOUR responsibility!!!
This might be also good place to repeat that IT no longer owns app, but still owns the users, app administration and data. Stack which is now in control of cloud contains application, OS, virtualization, hardware and network. So yes, it is disruptive. It is like Uber and imagine what happens next once autonomous cars starts to roam around. I guess you can guess what IT wise that means translated to your workplace.
Cloudwise, Bryan started the talk and soon he was on subject of CloudBoost. I started to use CloudBoost in Azure couple of weeks ago so first thing that I noticed was that he claimed client direct was supported for both Windows and Linux. This is not correct, but as he said information he was referring to was assuming you are running CloudBoost 2.2 (I run 2.1.5) and NetWorker 9.2 (release date somewhere in June). OK nice, this is according to roadmap I knew before, but as you will see in Day 2 there is more to this story. Cloudboost is surely really nice thing - it oes use object storage so do not expect superfast operations, but because it does dedupe/compression rather nicely I can see rather nice dedupe ratios and to be honest - speeds are really fast once you pass first backup. Here is my storage usage as an example:
There was general (high level) overview of how CloudBoost works and then referral to latest ESG document (to be available in June) which does analysis of Cloudboost and shows it as real superstar among competitions (which is small anyway, but even so it doesn't come even close by far).
Next thing, more details were shared about new DDVE in public cloud. Again, I was interested in Azure primarily. It turns out this deployment will use F4 or F8 template (depending on how much you plan to use as storage which in case of Azure can be up to 15TB). They start with small offering as that gives them enough time to tweak and tune things before they scale out. OK, makes sense. I wanted to know if this is using only block storage or will it use object storage as well (as some kind of longer retention tier). Right now, for both AWS and Azure, only block storage is supported, but support for object storage is on the roadmap. Good to hear as that makes sense and it is something everyone could (and should) use with data in cloud. You make primary backup to block storage and later, based on retention or even primary tier % usage, you move it to object storage. However, I also heard rumors such setup might require different de-dupe pools so it remains to be seen in future how this will look like.
Before Bryan jumped to Spanning (which is kind of OEMed by Dell EMC Technologies now), he tried to make point of ownership in SaaS and responsibilities:
|Vendor's responsibilities||Your responsibilities|
|Hardware failure||Human mistakes|
|Software failure||Programmatic errors|
|Natural disaster||Malicious insider activity|
|Power outage||External hackers|
|Delete requests||Ransomware & viruses|
And according to analysts 77% of companies as they started to use SaaS (eg. Office 365) had some kind of data loss within first 12 months. Are you protected? Spanning is quite interesting as subscription is per user. So, I can keep data for years or days and it is the same. That's kind of cool! With that, session ended and I left back to EMC Elect Longue.
It turns out I didn't read well agenda. Normally, all years until now, solution pavillion would open at 4pm. Not this time. Now, it opened at 6pm and would be open until 9:30pm. That's a change, but welcome change. In the past I have mentioned many times that people do not have time to explore pavilion due to sessions. Now they have. Thank you for listening (or realizing the same after all these years).
Extra time meant I had extra time to kill which I devoted to "A Closer Look At Microsoft Azure Stack". You can definitely feel when speaker is engineer and has what it says in his/her blood. This was the case here. While I'm far away from being qualified to judge anything in MS Azure Stack, I went there to learn more. The content did require more knowledge than I had, but nevertheless I enjoyed every minute. Not only was this best session of the day, but it was fully packed too. Not to say something wrong, this time I will borrow the video for you:
And with that time passed by... solution pavilion opened and hordes of people went it. Some because they were hungry, some to check new gadgets, some to win some prizes, etc. It was packed with exhibitors, but sometimes it felt I had to look hard to locate what is where. There were some exhibitors which I surprised me with their presence (eg. Sennheiser), but after a visit to their booth it has become apparent to me there is logic of course. More stuff than earlier for sure.
Some booths were eliminated. I could not find social media one (closest to that one merger of social groups, but that's not it). I suspect that just like Customer Council this got killed in process of consolidation between Dell and EMC. I think CC really did have high quality input for EMC and was pretty much good, but with departure of key figures who were steering the wheel, sail no longer did get the wind. It is time of transformation and I guess we have to realize it (even though some things will be back on track in future I suspect as they will always be at the core of the things).