All posts by Michael Davis

A former sysadmin returning to his network engineer roots with a long history in virtualization, EUC and storage. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2012-2015, Unidesk Certified Professional 2014, vExpert 2015-2016, Splunk Certified Power User. Stalking the twitters at @michael_edavis

Tips For Surviving DellEMC World in Vegas

So you’ve got the good fortune of attending DellEMC World 2017 in Las Vegas. Here’s some tips to make your visit to the desert oasis a little more pleasant so you gain the most out of the conference.

When deciding what to pack, keep in mind that Vegas can be slightly cool (50-60F) in the mornings, but quickly heats up to the 90-100F range once the Daystar is overhead. Bring a light jacket and wear light colored, moisture wicking clothes.

Hydration is key; the heat will make you sweat and the dry, smokey, casino air will leave you feeling parched. Highly recommend investing in a double-walled vacuum insulated water bottle from HydroFlask or similar. Dehydration combined with the plentiful and free alcohol will make for a less than pleasant conference experience.

Get yourself some lozenges to keep your mouth moist, it’ll help with all the talking with vendors and other attendees. You may still end up hoarse by Thursday, but give your throat a fighting chance. I’m a fan of Fisherman’s Friend, all natural, low calorie and they work very well. They’re also not sweet and candy like, nor bulky in the mouth like most lozenges.

Wear comfortable shoes and think about adding padded insoles. You’ll be on your feet walking a lot, and Vegas isn’t known for it’s soft green spaces.

Pace yourself; it’s a long week with a lot to see and do. Don’t try to fill every hour of every day with meetings, sessions, gatherings, etc. Take some time, even just 10-15 minutes, to step away from the crowds and relax.

Got any tips you’d suggest? Leave them in the comments below.

DellEMC Elect 2017 Announcement

With the merging of Dell and EMC came a combining of the EMC Elect and Dell TechCenter Rockstar advocacy programs to form the DellEMC Elect. After several months of planning and judging, and 600 great nominations, a class of 153 for 2017 has been announced. These individuals were chosen for their combination of technical knowledge of DellEMC enterprise products, a willing eagerness to help others, and objective independence. The full list of the 2017 DellEMC Elect can be viewed here.

It has been a great honor to have been involved as a founder and judge of this new combined program, and I look forward to seeing y’all at DellEMC World in Las Vegas this May.

DellEMC Elect Call for Nominations

Today is the day that’s been teased about for the last few weeks, and marks the culmination of months of planning. The former Dell TechCenter Rockstars and EMC Elect are joining forces and will henceforth be known as the DellEMC Elect.

Being selected to be part of the DellEMC Elect community is a recognition of efforts over the past year by an individual to promote the products and services of DellEMC, while also providing feedback to improve products.

What’s in it for those selected aside from a hearty thank-you and recognition? That’s to be announced later, but word has it the much loved Elect Lounge will be returning to a conference near you.

If you, or an associate, have the passion for and knowledge of DellEMC’s products along with an interest in helping the greater community the time to apply for 2017 is now. Go to http://dell.to/dellemcelectnominate to nominate yourself or others you feel worthy today.

Find us on twitter and elsewhere under the #DellEMCElect hashtag

Setup an L2TP/IPSEC VPN On Your Ubitquiti EdgeRouter

The planned follow up to the Ubiquiti UniFi AP deployment/RaspberryPi controller post about running an ELK stack on the controller is on hold; there are no preexisting binaries for the ARM platform and a successful compile from source has eluded me so far.  So instead we’re going to walk through setting up an L2TP/IPSEC VPN up on Ubiquiti’s EdgeRouter line of routers.  Ubiquiti has a good guide here that will get you 90% of the way there, but is missing a few key pieces of info.

Continue reading…

Deploying Ubiquiti UniFi APs with a RaspberryPi 2 Controller

I recently got fed up with the mediocre coverage and speeds of my home wireless network even after throwing DD-WRT on the pair of APs (Netgear and Linksys .11n) to eek out all the performance I could.  So I decided to take the plunge and go up market a bit with a couple APs from Ubiquiti Networks.

Ubiquiti UniFi APsI went with a pair of UAP (.11n) and UA-AC-LR (.11ac) units for a mix of coverage in light usage areas and better performance in high usage areas, along with a RaspberryPi 2 to act as the controller.    Since the UniFi APs are becoming more popular among home users, and I can’t be the only one wary of putting management functions in the cloud, I decided to document the setup process. Continue reading…

Atlantis Computing CX-4 SuperMicro

Atlantis Computing Expands HyperScale Lineup

Atlantis Computing has expanded their hyperconverged lineup with the HyperScale CX-4; a new offering targeting both ROBO deployments and smaller SMB customers. The two node CX-4 features 4TB (usable capacity) of all flash storage, 10GbE networking, 48 CPU cores, and up to 1.5TB of RAM in a tidy 2U package starting at $43,000 with three years of 24/7 support (4 hour parts replacement). This price point places it among the lowest cost hyperconverged appliances on the market with Chetan Venkatesh, Atlantis CEO, calling it a game changer for ROBO customers.

To make deployment easier and faster if a customer provides the IPs Atlantis will ship units with all the networking pre-configured along with connection details for the Atlantis Manager virtual appliance whether running centrally or on the ROBO appliance. Additionally the check boxes of inclusive data protection, high availability and disaster recovery are all ticked.

The expanded HyperScale lineup now includes the CX-4, CX-12, and CX-24 which are available on Dell’s FX2 modular server platform. This marks the first time Dell’s FX2 platform has been used for a hyperconverged appliance and allows for 10GbE networking between nodes without a separate 10GbE switch.   Dell based CX series appliances are available through Dell distributors and channel partners in the US, Europe and Middle East. Fans of Lenovo, Cisco, SuperMicro, and HP will be pleased to see the entire lineup available from those manufacturers as well.

For more details and to configure your own, head over to Atlantis Computing.

Dell World 2015 Recap

As I sit here in my hotel room waiting to see what FIA’s decision will be for the Saturday portion of the US Grand Prix weekend it seemed a good time to collect my thoughts from Dell World. Coming into the week there was seemingly more questions than answers concerning the Dell acquisition of EMC along with a fair amount of uncertainty. Chief among the questions was that of the cultural differences between the organizations. From talks with different executives, the plan is to have overarching goals and expectations of how to conduct business but otherwise embrace the differences that make each group unique; with their earlier acquisitions Dell tried to force a culture change and found it often did not work well for any parties. Another common question regards the overlap in product offering, to which Dell repeatedly expressed a commitment to all existing product lines. Ultimately there will be some changes made, but nothing beyond improving logistics chains looks likely for the short to mid term. The consistency and clarity in message from every exec I spoke with or heard at keynotes should be of relief to current customers of both companies.

In terms of OEM partnerships with the likes of Nutanix, Simplivity, SolidFire, etc. again the message was one of nothing changing in the foreseeable future from Dell’s perspective. Toward this Dell announced three new XC nodes, the high density XC6320, and all flash XC630-10F and XC6320-6F. Additionally they announced the new SC9000 controllers for Compellent arrays featuring 12Gb FC interconnects, greater memory, and a new 6.7 release of SCOS that offers enhanced data compression allowing accessible frozen blocks to be compressed resulting in greater efficiency.

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SCOS-67-Compression1

Compression Support Matrix

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SCOS 6.5 – 6.6 Compression Example

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SCOS-67-Compression3

SCOS 6.7 Compression Example

To negate performance impacts there are CPU cores dedicated to compression operations. A feature sure to appeal to customers migrating from EqualLogic to Compellent is the ability to import volumes to ease the transition.

Other new hardware announced includes the DSS 7000, 1500, 1510, and 2500 systems designed specifically to meet the needs of telecom, oil & gas, hosting providers and research organizations. To help you get these systems setup Dell now has a ProDeploy offering to help with the rack, stack and cabling for customers of every size. These deployment services to me looks to slot nicely between the existing consulting and ProSupport offerings in Dell’s portfolio.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

How to survive Dell World

Reposted from Dell PowerMore.

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I’m no stranger to the business conference life — spending hours in panels, breakout sessions, networking with industry folks and listening to keynotes. Over the years, I’ve gained a lot by actively listening, bouncing ideas off people I’ve never met before and checking out new products.

For the past three years, I’ve had a really great time attending Dell World. This year I’m excited to hear about how the company is doing after being private for two years — how it has impacted products and technologies that are in development. I anticipate the usual announcements around 14th-generation servers, updated desktops and laptops all making use of the latest CPU offerings Intel has released. I’m really interested to hear how that will impact the business in the future. Clearly, this year’s Dell World will be action-packed.

If this is your first Dell World, there are a couple things you should know before you head to Austin. I’d like to share some tips for how to make the most of the three-day event based on my experiences attending the last three years.

1. Don’t overbook your schedule.

One of the mistakes I’ve made in the past was trying to cram in every possible session. It’s OK to miss some of them — many are recorded and livestreamed. And you can go back to these sessions weeks later in case you’d like to revisit the action. Plan a bit, but try to go with the flow each day. Go to the sessions that you’re most excited about. As a first-time attendee, I highly recommend going to the opening and closing keynotes — seeing Michael Dell on stage is an experience you won’t want to miss. Same goes for hearing John Mayerbreak out into one of his spontaneous jam sessions. Don’t feel obligated, though, to sit through every single session at Dell World. Because you can replay those later, but you can’t replay the conversations you have with people you’ve never met. This leads me to my next tip.

2. Give and you shall receive.

As an engineer, I’ve gained a lot from giving feedback on products at Dell World. I’ve enjoyed participating in user-interface feedback testing sessions, where I’ve had the chance to share my thoughts on how to better products that are in development. A few years ago, I gave my opinion on the usability of a few of Dell’s EqualLogic products, when they were in the early design stages. We’ve been using EqualLogic for the past seven years, and I’ve seen the impact of some of my feedback as the user experience has improved. I recommend that everyone at Dell World tests out the products they use — being involved in these sessions makes you feel like you’re giving back to the rest of the community.

3. Network. Really network.

Sure, everyone knows to network at conferences like Dell World. Not everyone does it the right way, though. Now I’m no networking expert, but in my experience, you want to go further than having surface-level conversations. For me, what that means is talking to people in similar roles about the systems they work on, problems they’ve encountered and how they’ve resolved these issues. I’ve helped others fix issues and they’ve helped me see my own missteps. As a community, let’s come together to problem solve and share our wins.

4. Prep your social media presence.

Before you arrive at Dell World, make yourself visible online. Give yourself a social media makeover. First, set your avatar on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to a recent photo of yourself. Then familiarize yourself with official (and community-created) event hashtags. Throughout the conference, post tweets and Facebook updates in real time, with quotes from speakers and people you meet. Upload photos and videos on platforms such as Periscope and Instagram. Really become part of the online conversation. And if you see someone you recognize from social media, go up to them and introduce yourself politely. No matter how prominent you are in the tech community or within Dell, we’re all people, so let’s be polite and friendly.

5. Don’t be shy!

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people you’ve never met. As long as the person isn’t engaged in a conversation already, waltz up to them and say hello. Often, people who attend Dell World don’t know too many other attendees. And it’s good to branch out from the people you know if you do go with colleagues. So we’re all in the same boat. I always try to have a few meals with people I’ve never met before, and my goal is usually to talk to five new people each day. By approaching the conference this way, you can gain some invaluable contacts, (and friends of course).

Have a wonderful time at Dell World! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Dell World 2015: Day One – Product Design and The Future Workforce

Day one of Dell World kicked off with press sessions on the thinking and research that influences Dell’s product design, and the future of the work force. The overarching goals of consistency in UI and UX, and converging consumer products with their enterprise/commercial brethren starts early on in Dell’s design studios. To encourage ‘synergy’ between teams an open office layout is used, and sharing of design language along with materials knowledge is pushed. The desire with this is that if a customer has familiarity with one Dell product that they will be able to quickly and easily know how to work with a new product or one from a different line. This can be seen now in the EqualLogic, M1000e, and FX2 management consoles. One area it very much falls apart, and is an acknowledged pain point, is Dell’s online presence which is the subject of an ongoing usability study and redesign.

Where the two sessions start to mesh is with the XPS line of products, which Dell envisions as the converging point of consumer desires and enterprise demands. Toward that Dell has their design teams located across EMEA and the US, pulling talent from diverse disciplines to meet the expectations of customers. A key driver in this convergence of product lines is the rapid advancement in materials and component packaging allowing for thin and light weight devices that still retain excellent ergonomics.

When looking at the future work force, despite all the media driven hype of millennials shaking things up, research actually shows that their desires for flexibility in location and time to work extends across the generational ‘gap’. The keys to companies being successful moving forward center around diversity, recognizing employees as individuals, flexibility and proper management.

Stats…
May 2015, millennials (18-34 years old) become largest segment of the work force.
64% of employees do some amount of work from home.
One in four millennials would consider a new job if it offered what they perceived as better technology.

vBrainstorm at Dell World 2015

With the euphoria of VMworld 2015 still fresh, we are pleased to announce that vBrainstorm will be at Dell World 2015 in Austin, Texas October 20-22.  For the fourth year Dell has graciously extended invitations to members of the Dell TechCenter Rockstar community affording them the opportunity to attend with press/blogger credentials.

This will be my fourth time to attend and it has been interesting to watch the event grow and mature a little more each year, and become the launching point for Dell’s new hardware, software and service offerings.  Last year the new FX2 blade platform and XC hyper-converged partnership with Nutanix were huge hits among attendees, while the DCS XA90 (spec sheet) seemed to slip in under the radar during a big data segment in a keynote.

For this year, I anticipate the usual announcements around 14th generation servers, updated desktops and laptops all making use of the latest CPU offerings Intel has released.  Beyond this I hope that the fruits of being private for two years, and the ability to more readily integrate the technologies gained through acquisitions of the last decade, start to see the light of day.  Dell has hinted at things, and shown NDA roadmaps, but now is the time to start delivering on the promise of moving faster without Wall Street breathing down their necks.