Fun And Business: 15 Scenes From Dell Enterprise Forum12:51 PM EST Mon. Jun. 10, 2013
Dell this week held its first-ever Dell Enterprise Forum. The event brought about 1,200 partners and customers from 41 countries together to hear about Dell's latest products and programs aimed at putting an enterprise face on Dell, which is in the process of going private.
The Dell Enterprise Forum was previously known as the Dell Storage Forum, but was renamed earlier this year to emphasize Dell as an end-to-end enterprise product and services provider.
That didn't stop several Dell execs from referring to the event as the "third Dell Storage Forum" rather than the "first Dell Enterprise Forum."
Turn the page for a look at the fun and serious activities at the event.
The Dell Enterprise Forum was held in San Jose, Calif.
Most of the activities took place in the San Jose Convention Center, which was being remodeled.
It was actually quite the appropriate venue for Dell. Dell is itself being remodeled, both as part of its transformation into a private company and its transformation from its PC roots to becoming an enterprise solutions provider.
If anyone can think of a better place to celebrate a birthday than at the San Jose Tech Museum during a channel partner event, please tell Patrick Mulvee, vice president of sales and marketing at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and Dell partner.
Your reporter, noting Mulvee's despair at being away from family during his 40th birthday, asked the band at the Dell Enterprise Forum reception to play the classic birthday song for him.
The band, which plays several venues in the San Francisco area under the leadership of Sean Carscadden, at first was unsure how to play the song. However, after some back and forth communications, they played one of the best jazz renditions of the popular song ever.
The pre-show party was held at the Tech Museum in downtown San Jose.
Your reporter was standing around, minding his own business, when he was without warning attacked by an evil robot bent on world domination.
Quick reflexes borne of repeated viewings of The Sarah Conner Chronicles ensured the defeat of the Terminator wanna-be while allowing CRN coverage of the Dell Enterprise Forum to continue.
John Loy, the former senior network engineer for the South Carolina Attorney General's office, loved his solution provider so much that he decided to join it.
Loy, a 10-year state veteran, worked with Davenport Group, a St. Paul-based solution provider, for several years, and last year decided make the move to join Davenport as a senior systems engineer.
"The VAR was a relationship-based VAR," Loy said. "Also, the money was better, and the trustworthiness of Davenport was incredible."
Over the past year, Loy said he has enjoyed the openness of working with Davenport. "I've got a great relationship with Paul (Clifford, president) and Sonia (St. Charles, CEO). Everybody talks about family. With Davenport, it really is family."
While customers were off doing some customer stuff, Dell's channel partners flocked to hear updates on the company.
Bob Skelley (right), executive director for Dell's global certified partner program and channel, introduced four new competencies -- security, system management, data protection and information management -- to partners, and said the training programs should be live by September. He also urged partners to get trained. "We have over 100 courses free of charge," he said. "Other companies are coming this way. They're copying the Dell model. But we've been doing this for five years. Skelley was joined by Cliff Gumkowski (left), Dell's global commercial channels executive director, who said Dell hopes to see 50 percent of data center sales go through the channel within two years.
Also present was Jim Defoe (center), Dell's vice president of global commercial channels sales and programs, who introduced a new 10-percent channel discount for server and storage sales, as well as a new demand generation program.
Local band Pop Fiction warmed up the crowd at the Dell Enterprise Forum on Tuesday and Wednesday morning with a blend of 80s to present rock.
The last song of Pop Fiction's Tuesday morning set was a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."
Marius Haas, president of enterprise solutions for Dell, came on stage after the song and said, "Clearly the last song resonates with Dell as we go along this journey with you."
Haas said during his keynote that Dell has invested $16 billion in the last 10 years in the enterprise, including in its acquisitions of EqualLogic, Compellent and Quest Software.
Those investments have given Dell the ability to offer customers an end-to-end approach to IT performance and efficiency, he said.
"We're accelerating the integration of the different platforms around storage, servers, networking," he said, "to deliver that optimal value to customers," he said.
Later, Haas told CRN that Dell's move to go private is not impacting its focus on the enterprise, and indeed could have a positive impact on that strategy.
"If we go private, [CEO] Michael [Dell] can spend more time on the customer side and less on the PC side," he said. "Right now, we're focused on our strategy. Flip-flopping on a strategy creates risk."
Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager for Dell servers, unveiled Dell's new PowerEdge VRTX, a converged infrastructure offering with integrated server, storage and networking technology targeted at small and midsize businesses and remote offices of midsize and larger businesses.
The PowerEdge VRTX was designed to be easy to deploy, manage and maintain, Norrod said.
Norrod also introduced the fifth-generation Dell Modular Data Center, based on high-density Dell PowerEdge servers. They make use of individual power, IT and cooling modules that snap together to form an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-maintain data infrastructure.
"Modular Data Center is a misnomer," he said. "Our Modular Data Center is a completely engineered system from Dell that allows you to deploy on barren ground a complete data center."
The PowerEdge VRTX features up to four dual-processor server blades, each with a maximum capacity of 768 GB of memory. It can be configured with up to 48 TB of direct-attach storage capacity, which is shared among the up to eight processors. Dell PowerConnect networking technology is also built into the small chassis.
The PowerEdge VRTX is scheduled to ship in June with an entry price of $9,999 for two blades, each with a single processor and 32 GB of memory, as well as 5 TB of SATA storage.
Dell used the Dell Enterprise Forum to unveil a new twist on tiered storage with the introduction of tiering between two different flash storage technologies in its Dell Compellent storage arrays.
Dell also enhanced its Compellent arrays with its first dedupe capabilities and new high-density storage shelf.
Alan Atkinson (left) and Pete Korce (center), both of whom are vice presidents and general managers for Dell storage, introduce the new technology to a couple of rounds of applause from the audience.
Atkinson said the new ability for Dell Compellent arrays to move data between high-performance SLC flash and high-capacity MLC flash was a first for the industry and will result in a significant drop in pricing for high-performance storage.
"We're going to deliver you flash solutions at the same price of hard disk drives," he said.
Dell surprised solution providers by unveiling a new relationship with Oracle that the companies said will bring Oracle's business-critical software to market on Dell's x86 server platform.
Under the new worldwide alliance, Dell was named a preferred x86 server partner by Oracle, while Oracle is now a preferred enterprise infrastructure partner of Dell.
Oracle President Mark Hurd unveiled the partnership during the Dell Enterprise Forum in a video presentation during which he said his company will work with Dell to deliver integrated hardware and software solutions, with software optimized to run on Dell's x86-based servers.
One Dell solution provider who requested anonymity said, "The last thing I ever expected at this event was to see Mark Hurd's face."
Dell this week updated its Active Infrastructure portfolio of converged infrastructure solutions with the introduction of three new Active System solutions that combine server, storage and networking resources.
New to the line is the Dell Active System 50 (right) self-contained solution for smaller enterprises, the Dell Active System 200 rack-based solution form intermediate environments, and the Dell Active System 1000 (left) based on the Compellent Fibre Channel storage array.
Dell also introduced new validated workloads for its Active Infrastructure that leverage out-of-the-box and custom workload templates with validated reference architectures to reduce the time and steps to provision new workloads.
Also new is Active System Manager 7.1, the management layer for Active System that integrates IP Dell received with its acquisition of Gale Technologies. Active System Manager 7.1 supports both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere platforms, as well as stateless computing for workload scaling and migrations.
Dell late Wednesday demonstrated its commitment to a cleaner environment as well as to just plain old cuteness by hiring pedicabs to take customers and partners to a downtown San Jose party.