Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winning On The Last Turn

I just wanted to post this quick blog to let everyone know that I beat Jay (@aus_effendi) at the K1 racing event at DellWorld - on the last turn.  The Tech Center guys put on a great event and invited the Dell TechCenter Rockstars out to do high speed indoor go-cart racing

The course has a couple of hairpin turns and a few spots where you can let the car get up to full speed. Which means plenty of great spots for passing and some great racing.  The cars themselves are electric, which means you get this almost Zen like racing experience that is near silent but still pretty intense.  Every once in a while a small piece of tire will fly up and hit your visor just to remind you how cool this is.

After a 16 lap qualifying round, I was seeded just behind Jay in the 6th spot for the final.  After about four laps, it was Jay and I battling for 2nd place.  (The guy in first was ahead of us by a good bit.)  Jay was in second and I was literally riding his bumper in 3rd.  It stayed this way until the final turn of the final lap, where I was able to turn inside of Jay and get a half car lead on him as we crossed the finish line.

You end up with this picture of us on the podium.  Yes – they have a winners podium at the place.  And yes I’m one place higher than Jay.  Congrats to Tom (@hypervfan) on first place.

Just wanted to give Jay a hard time about this and share a little bit about how fun this whole thing was.  I'm actually wearing this medal different places around town.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit Walks Through Dell World

Bilbo Baggins was middle aged and a bit rebellious for a hobbit, but had never been more than a few miles from his home.  His life completely changes when he begins an unexpected and transformational journey across Middle Earth.  The movie comes out this week, I would guess that most people reading this blog read the book many years ago.

I attended a panel session of Dell executives at Dell World earlier this week.  They took questions for half an hour and there were a few recurring questions or themes.  One theme was - How far along is Dell on it's transformational journey?

Bilbo had never been beyond the Shire (his neighborhood in Middle Earth) and never seen or done anything like this journey before.  If somebody had asked him along the way - How far along are you on your Journey?  I suspect that his answer would have been specific to his own expectations and experience  thus far into his journey.  When he set out he only knew vaguely was he was going to do.  Only near the end would have appreciated how far he had to go when he first left.

Michael Dell answered these questions about Dell's (the company) journey as well as could be expected.  He basically said that Dell is in a continual state of change and that their transformational journey is a constant.  He said that they are embracing change and will continue to change over time.  They realize that the endpoint is not clear while they know that they must do many things to get there.

After Bilbo's journey is complete he writes a book about his adventure and calls it There and Back Again.  No doubt a completely changed person from his Journey, Bilbo writes about the great things he saw and did.  The key events in his life are what happened on this adventure and he wouldn't be the same person without these experiences.  He also couldn't have even started on the book until the Journey was over, he wouldn't have had the context to understand what was the beginning, middle, and end.

Dell has entered into a key phase in it's corporate life.  It is working to become more than just a maker of hardware.  At the end of this phase it will still most likely make hardware in many forms, but it will also be other aspects of the IT business.  It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Seems like some people at Dell World had the Hobbit on their minds this week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Bunch of Suits and a Guy In Jeans

I've always been impressed with Jeff Clarke of Dell for a variety of reasons.  He is an organically grown Dell executive.  He started out as an entry level guy and has worked his way up to reporting directly to Michael Dell.  He always seemed to give talks and presentations that were straightforward and easy to understand.  He also would answer questions directly.  He is one of the longest tenured Dell executives and understands the company and it's history very well.

So what's up with the jeans?

A distinguished panel of executives was presented before the press at the kick-off of DellWorld 2012 this afternoon in Austin.   Michael Dell was of course there as the CEO, Chairman of the Board, and former wunderkind who started a multi-billion dollar business from his dorm room.

Steve Felice was kind of the moderator of the panel and served to kick things off and introduce everyone.  Steve is a long time Dell executive that has essentially been successful at all of his posts at the company for the past decade.

The new guys in the form of Marius Haas and John Swainson were on stage as well as Suresh Vaswani who has been with Dell for about 5 years but was just last week moved to be the head of Dell Services in the wake of Steve Shuckenbrock's announced departure.

All of these guys are wearing sports coats, button down shirts, and slacks.  Jeff Clarke is also on stage, but he is wearing jeans and a casual button down blue checkered shirt.  Very relaxed.

What's the message with the jeans?

He definitely stood out from the panel on the stage.  Everybody will remember Jeff Clarke, Michael Dell, and some other guys in suits.  The reason for the jeans and relaxed shirt is probably at partly that he just like to wear that kind of stuff, but I think he also knows that he it puts him at an advantage.

The Q and A session goes by and nobody asks about the jeans. Too bad.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Technology Retro

On So Say SMEs Kong and I discussed retro trends and technology.  Yes, we managed to combine OS/2, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Bruce Lee in one video.

And here are the referenced Steelers throwback uniforms:

And the Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks video:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Future of Storage is Virtual, Again

The thing about storage is that it has been virtual for a long time.  So while the future is even more virtual, the past is virtual too.  When we look back we see a lot of the same virtualization ideas already in place.  It's kinda like Back To The Future in some ways, without the hover boards and DeLoreans.

Your desktop at home and your laptop at work are probably still more or less directly using their hard drives without a virtual layer in between, but on servers, storage arrays, filers, cloud backup, and just about any web app - storage is already virtual.  

Storage has been virtual for a long time.  A simple LUN is a virtual layer that takes many disks and presents them as if they were one.  A LUN could also be a slice of many disks presented as one single disk.  Sometimes these LUNs are referred to as Virtual Disks - depending on the vendor or tool.

Storage arrays have engaged in doing virtual stuff that does amazing things for a long time now.  Moving data around to different disks without interrupting access (kinda like vMotion for data) and replicating to a different location for backup and disaster recovery without impact to the applications are great examples.

Finally all the cloud based storage is completely virtual.  Amazon's storage service is probably the best example but other things like Mozy and Carbonite are cloud based backup solutions that are big virtual backup tapes in the sky.

The virtualization of storage keeps going from there.  The storage functions and features are going to increasingly become more virtual.  In some cases vSphere does things that were previously done by storage arrays like snapshots and cloning while in other ways the arrays will work directly with vSphere to do these same things from a VM specific perspective. The VAAI api that enables arrays to work more directly with vSphere is a great example.

So in the future, storage will be more virtual.  There are two examples of things that have already been released that I think are signs of where things will go.

The first is the concept of taking local storage on servers and combining it across the network to create virtual shared storage.  The vSphere Storage Appliance or VSA is an example.  It was originally released with vSphere 5.0 and allows for the local storage of several servers to be combined and presented as a set of NFS shares that are highly available due to replication between the hosts that happens automatically in the background.  At VMworld earlier this year there were also a technology preview uses local disks to create a virtual SAN.

Secondly is the idea of the storage arrays themselves becoming virtual machines.  NetApp released a virtual storage appliance that can be used to create a virtual NetApp filer.  It runs the same OnTap software that the  physical based NetApp filers use.  As a result this virtual filer has the same high end capabilities including stuff like snapshots and deduplication as well as the ability to NFS and iSCSI based connections.

So storage becomes more virtual and virtualization get more storage capabilities, again.