First off, many thanks to Dell for inviting me to travel down to Austin, TX for Dell World 2013. It is quite humbling to know the company values my opinions as a customer on their products enough to be afforded this opportunity.
Dell World 2013 was Dell's first major event following Michael Dell and his investment partners successfully taking the company private, and nothing exemplified what that means for the company more than the opening keynote. Mr. Dell seemed more energetic and alive on stage than when I've seen him in the past at Dell World 2012 and Dell Storage Forum 2011. A few subtle and not so subtle jabs were made at Wall Street, in particular by special guest Elon Musk who likened the market to a manic depressive.
There were no mind blowing announcements to be made, but the ones made should put existing and potential Dell customers mind's at ease. Dell is investing both monetarily and staffing for internal research and development looking 5 to 10 years ahead. At the same time a new venture capital fund was announced to assist small companies with a product ready to sell/manufacture get off the ground.
On the product side Dell announced a Q1 launch of a new 28" 4K display to be priced at well under $1,000; as a member of the Professional line-up it won't feature the same color fidelity, contrast ratio or brightness levels as an UltraSharp model, but it will be a good fit for many users and looked quite nice on the show room floor.
Fluid Cache for SAN (for Compellent customers) got mention again after being announced at Dell Enterprise Forum in the spring, with a live demo showing the ability to drive 5 million (read) IOPS. A new addition to the EqualLogic family was announced, PS6210, which spans the gamut from all flash to all HDD which features a new more powerful controller with increased RAM. Between the upgraded controller and new 64bit v7 firmware the all flash models are reported to be capable of 1.2 IOPS and sub 2ms latency. A very welcome new feature of the v7 firmware is the ability to manage ACLs on LUNs via user defined groups now. I am disappointed to not hear anything about the connection limits, both per group and per pool, being increased; 1024 connections seems quite low as we approach 2014 and is a pain point for myself and many other customers. Fluid FS v3 which was released in October for Compellent customers is now available to EqualLogic customers courtesy of the new FS7610/7600 NAS appliances.
For me one of the major highlights of the trip was getting to visit Dell's demo modular datacenter and fresh air hot house on the Round Rock campus. A traditional datacenter takes 18-24 months to build and equip, while Dell is able to deploy one of their modular datacenters in 6 months. And with their M420 blades you can pack quite a bit of computing power into the approximately 800 sq ft footprint. The fresh air hot is Dell's way of demonstrating a redesign of their server architectures and component selection that debuted with the 11g PowerEdges, allowing for extended runtimes at 95F and briefly at higher temps. However there could hardly be a worse week to show it off than this past one in Austin when much of the week temps were near freezing.
Another highlight was getting to tour the Acoustic lab at the Parmar campus and speak to the engineers that work there. They don't just work to reduce the amount of noise produced by systems, but also to tune the noise generated so that it is as pleasing and non-disruptive as possible especially so in non-datacenter gear. Can't go into details of the work done or tools used, but everyone on the tour walked away impressed. Much of the work done here in making the VRTX platform quiet enough for use in an office led to breaking down internal barriers between teams at Dell and has changed how product development is being done going forward.