Dell’s recent Storage Forum in Paris was a well-attended and (as befitting the erstwhile Compellent C-Drive that begat these events) enthusiastic get together. Apparently, the slight semantic change from simply “Fluid Architecture” to “Fluid Forward” was nothing to do with Obama’s victory and slogan! This comment and my title to this blog were not the only puns in town however: event-staff shirts, banners, and so on bore witty one-liners (maybe next time I Google "storage" and "humor" I’ll find these!?) such as “I only watch Fibre Channel,” “Rip and Replace This,” and “I'm SCSI and I know it.”
Darren Thomas and his leadership team were themselves enthused on stage by the latest round of new products and enhancements, headlined by
- the 6.3 "enterprise" (my descriptor) release of Compellent Storage Center;
- virtualization being offered all the way down to the PowerVault suite, and;
- a host of DP and backup improvements.
EqualLogic had its "new-news" a little while back, spurred no doubt by the fact that it registered the shipment of its 100,000th array! In terms of the future, there was plenty of emphasis about extending the functional and management commonalities between and across Dell’s storage platforms…as well as driving more storage into servers (which is of course a general trend across the industry, and clearly one that Dell is keen to embrace in line with its "better together" strategy).
While Compellent SC 6.3 has clear aspirations to move Dell’s storage capabilities "up" towards the enterprise, it was clear in all the surrounding conversations that in reality this "upwardness" is essentially aimed at the highest ends of the very broad "midrange"; the vendor was clear that it wants to be the overall (converged) IT vendor of choice for the midrange (whether that term applies as an organizational, a capacity, or an application descriptor).
The main presentation was nicely put together and eschewed overly detailed product specification slides for product introductions that lead with customer quotes, use-cases, and business-impacts. Taking a leaf out of the same book, I’m not going to regurgitate press-release facts here. Instead—given that so much of what faces Dell is about execution—I managed to conduct brief video interviews with four of Dell’s storage execs….so as to get answers to both easy and harder questions, and to let you get a "feel" of the management team and its approach. These will roll out over the next few weeks, once some smart person on the ESG team has removed the parts where I trip over words or wires…
A final thought for now—obviously Dell has aspirations to be a much larger force in the storage world. To some degree this may happen irrespective of Dell’s storage-specific actions as it is well positioned to ride the full-stack/converged IT wave (which favors the broader "full system" vendors like Dell). But there is a double-edged sword at play here: to maximize on the opportunity Dell needs to concentrate on execution where the rubber meets the road—this means getting the word out more and better regarding quite how capable a storage provider it is. All too often its storage light (even in the city of Enlightenment) is still hidden under the large bushel of its general portfolio. But this is not news to the Dell executives—and I, for one, am not betting against them