Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dell Storage Forum 2012 - My long delayed recap

I had the pleasure of attending the Dell Storage Forum in Boston this year as well as participate in the customer advisory panel.

We were a happy Compellent customer and have two of their arrays, one at our HQ and one at our DR Site. We had been having problems with them for months and I was pretty vocal about it on twitter and Linkedin. One day I get a DM on twitter from a Dell representative asking me for my email address so they could send me info about an upcoming event. I thought nothing of it and figured it was some local sales thing.  A couple of days later I got an email inviting me to be part of the customer advisory panel held after DSF. I gladly accepted since it also included admission to DSF, something I was interested in attending anyways. I did attend some NDA sessions so I hope I talk about anything I'm not supposed to.
Overall I thought the conference was great and the CAP was exceptional.  I made a lot of new friends in the process and learned so many things. Here are some big take aways.

1. Don't go to Boston for 2 nights for a work conference and expect to see anything touristy. I would have loved to have seen more of the city. Oh well, this just means I need to go back some day.

2. Dell did an awesome job at this event, the branding was great, the people were great, the sessions were amazing.  Attendance was around 800-1000 is my guess and it was a great size.

3. The future of Compellent sessions were great, they gave me a lot of insight into where Dell was taking them. Unfortunately, they gave me too much information that landed up biting them in the ass. More on that to follow.

4. The Compellent engineers were awesome to talk to. Ask them anything and they knew the answer and were more than willing to tell you why.  Kind of like going into the labs or going to "Ask the Developers" at Lotussphere.

5. I saw the most amazing Keynote session on Wednesday morning. I was an interactive white boarding session that brought up the best and brightest people from each company and showed how they are all going to talk to each other and integrate in the future.

6. The customer advisory panel was excellent and kudo's to the entire Dell social media team that put it on. I wonder where Cappy is now?

Compellent has some awesome things coming in the next 2 years.  Like server based cache, AppAssure integration, and many other things I know I am not supposed to say.

However, I learned many things that didn't make be very happy.  Here are some of them.

1. Series 30 controllers will never get the 6.0 code
2. The last release of the 5.x code is coming later this year with 5.6 and that will be the last major release.  - So that means no new features after this year, so that means budget for controller upgrades next year.
3. My drive shelves are no longer going to be sold after the middle of this year.
4. The drives that go in the shelf will no longer be able to be bought at the end of this year
5. Dell changed the SAS connector on the SC8000 controllers, so I can't use the SAS shelf's I own with the new controllers.
6. AppAssure will be integrated into Compellent at some point and is application aware. Only if that app is made my Microsoft.
7. The server based looks amazing, IF you have R810 servers and IF you have a 10gb network on the backend to support it.  I have neither.

In general though I left the conference pretty happy and excited about the future of Compellent.  Yes, I have had my issues with them, and they were working on it, but in general I was confident in my decision to use them as our primary storage and to deploy a DR site with them.

The customer advisory panel was great, we all had a chance to voice our opinion on every question.  Greg Schulz @storageio did an awesome job driving the interaction between him and the other attendees.

Here is a list of some of the other attendees at the CAP.

You can follow me on twitter at @dheinle

I did get to say my peace about Co-Pilot before and after the Dell acquisition. It seemed like the other attendees did not have the same issue with them that I have been having.  After that I expected a call from Co-Pilot to resolve our last issue.  Nope, no call, no e-mail no nothing.

I do have Co-pilot bending over backwards now to try and resolve a couple more problems.  But that came from another post on LinkedIn. I'll leave it for another blog post.

Full disclosure: Dell paid for my hotel, airfare and conference fee.

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