Workforce Transformation at Dell EMC World 2017

DellEMCWorld 2017 logoOn the first day of Dell EMC World 2017 in Las Vegas a few important announcements were made. It covered both product announcements and other industry developments. I’ll try to cover a few that stood out to me, and how they will impact the people that run the IT infrastructure. This workforce transformation as Dell EMC calls it, might be more challenging than simply making a system a bit faster with flash.

Product announcements

The general keynote covered the following product announcements.

  • HCI: VxRail 4.5: lower entry point pricing ($25k). With cloud pricing for VxRail, no cash needs to be handed over to DellEMC upfront, there’s no long-term obligation (12 months cutoff point), and payments are simple.
  • Servers: PowerEdge 14G: Scalability has improved with 50% more users per server. Intelligent automation is key, with 90% faster service remediation. This new generation of servers will be GA as soon as Intel announces their new Xeon processor in the summer.
  • Storage:
    • High-end: VMAX950F (basically: denser, faster, lower latency, etc), XtremIO X2 (which continues to rock in snapshot heavy deployments such as VDI).
    • Mid-range: Unity All Flash & SC 5020
    • Unstructured: Isilon All Flash
  • Data Protection: Integrated Data Protection Appliance and Cloud Data Protection
  • Networking: S5100 Open Networking Switch

Workforce Transformation

Micheal Dell and Jeremy Burton also spoke about the workforce transformation. There’s a new type of people entering the market, whom view work as an activity, not a place. They want to work from everywhere, and a survey points out that they will pass on a job offer if this flexibility isn’t present. In fact, I think this isn’t that new: I recognize this trait in myself. Maybe it’s because I’m right in the middle of the Millennial date range…

This “work from everywhere and whenever you want” taxes the IT department. Not only does a traditional desktop and printer setup no longer work in this flexible way of working, it also poses a security risk with data potentially traveling across unsecure WiFi hotspots and WAN links.

Later on the day Karen Lopéz and I interviewed Nigel Moulton, CTO for Converged Platforms and Solutions Division, EMEA, Dell EMC. And instead of the technology aspects of workforce transformation, we spoke about the people and the admins.

Previously an admin had to tweak and tinker a lot to get their component in the IT stack working optimally. I still remember glueing LUNs together into MetaLUNs, rotating the base LUN across RAID groups, to get the most performance out of the underlying disks. Now we have storage pools to do all that.

With the move to converged systems like VxRail, lines between traditional roles as storage/network/compute become blurry. There’s no longer a need for a dedicated storage admin, but more of a generic type of admin that knows a bit about all the various aspects of the HCI infrastructure. And this is a development that I have been seeing at various of the Storage Field Days as well: storage systems become easier to manage and do more operational tasks autonomously with advanced analytics and AI. And like Karen pointed out: this should actually be a good thing for the admins, since the boring operational tasks can be automated, leaving time for interesting manual/custom things.

The traditional array is not dead

So what does this mean for traditional arrays? Are they dead or dying? Good news: not yet! There are still plenty of workloads that will not work on hyper converged or software defined infrastructure. They need advanced replication or data services that only products like for example VPLEX can offer. So they will remain on traditional arrays for now, until HCI and SDS catches up and offers these features as well.

The traditional array marker it still 4x as large as the converged systems market; albeit with lower growth rates: high single digit/low double digits for traditional, triple digits for converged systems. So there’s still plenty of market to position those storage arrays in.

My thoughts on Day 1 of Dell EMC World 2017

Cloud is not a location, it’s a way of doing IT. It means high levels of automation and smart placement of apps and servers. Hybrid cloud is key: maybe the app runs in the public cloud, maybe the private cloud. Dell Technologies covers both markets: on-premises with their Dell EMC products, off-premises with VirtuStream.

The workforce transformation aspect will be interesting to see happen. Apart from different certifications, it means a different style of thinking. How people respond to this changing requirement will be a challenge in itself.

One day down, two to go. Looking forward to it!

Disclaimer: Dell Technologies flew me out to Las Vegas for Dell EMC World 2017 and paid for my conference ticket, flights and hotel. Various events were also organized, either by Dell EMC Netherlands and other vendors, and they often picked up the tab for beers and food. I was however not compensated for my time and there is no requirement to blog or tweet about any of the presentations. Everything I post is of my own accord and because I like what I see and hear.