I attended Dell Tech World 2019 earlier in the month, and was very excited when I found out that the Tech Field Day crew would be there as well for a Dell Tech World version of TFD Extra. While TFDx was planned for later in the week, I also learned that many of the delegates and the TFD organizers were actually invited by Dell to take part in the Dell Luminaries program. The luminaries were out in full force tweeting, blogging, podcasting and more throughout the conference. You can find some great updates as they pertain to Dell Tech World from some of the luminaries that participated:
DELL TECHNOLOGIES WORLD 2019 – WRAP-UP AND LINK-O-RAMA – Dan Frith
DELL TECHNOLOGIES’ UNITY XT – CLOUD MEETS MIDRANGE STORAGE – Max Mortillaro
Dell go big with Cloud – Chin-Fah Heoh
Voices in Data Storage: Live from Dell Technologies World – Enrico Signoretti
Tech Field Day Extra kicked off on the third day of the conference, with Liqid, Kemp and Big Switch Networks presenting to the delegates. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for the Big Switch presentation, but I did participate in the first two:
Liqid – Composable Infrastructure
Liqid joined us first to discuss their composable infrastructure product and how it fits into the Dell EMC ecosystem. For those unfamiliar with composable infrastructure, at a very high level it is essentially a way to create bare-metal servers from pools of disaggregated resources. You may have heard that HPE was one of the first companies to bring composable infrastructure to the market with it’s Synergy solution. What if you don’t want to lock into one hardware vendor or product to make use of composable infrastructure? Liqid’s CEO, Sumit Puri, presented to us and provided very engaging insight into Liqid’s approach to composability. Sumit explained that:
What we provide for composability is the software that allows you to orchestrate, and some technology that allows you to interconnect your standard, off the shelf hardware.
Composable infrastructure is all about making infrastructure both dynamic and efficient. Liqid’s software allows for the deployment of infrastructure as needed for particular workloads. Why buy a server based on hardware requirements for some predicted max capacity when you can deploy based on what is specifically needed, or even when it is needed? Liqid allows for provisioning of hardware without needing to build in overhead, allowing for much greater efficiency in the data center. The use of policy based management and orchestration allows for controlling the fabric to make the most efficient use of hardware resources.
One of the big differences in how Liqid approaches composability lies within it’s PCIe Fabric Switch. The actual product provided by Liqid is the fabric switch, which contains the software intelligence that manages the fabric, and utilizes PCIe Gen 3 x4 for high speed connectivity. Why PCIe? Because PCIe is the only common interconnect for all data center resources.
Composable Infrastructure is certainly one of the current “buzzy” topics, and the way that Liqid approaches composability seems like it will only enhance adoption due to the freedom provided by being hardware agnostic. From my perspective and customer base, I don’t see the reality of deploying something like Liqid in the near future. The main use cases are AI & Deep Learning, HPC & Clustering, Dynamic Cloud, and 5G Edge. I can definitely see Liqid maturing in these specialized areas and continuing to push the envelope when it comes to composable infrastructure.
Being that TFDx was live at Dell Tech World, Liqid also announced they they were selected as a Dell OEM Solutions Partner. It will certainly be interesting to see how Liqid’s adoption grows in the short-term, with both compelling technology and the might of a partner like Dell behind them.
Kemp – Load Balancing for Elastic Cloud Storage
Kemp was up next to talk about technology we were all pretty familiar with, load balancing. My past experience with Kemp was in providing load balancing for both VDI and Microsoft Exchange. From a deployment perspective, I had traditionally used Netscaler for load balancing. It could get the job done, but the breadth of what Netscaler provided often made it very cumbersome or sometimes even problematic when it came to simple configurations. Having worked with customers that already had Kemp appliances in place, I was always impressed with how the product handled and focused on the load balancing technology.
Frank Yue, Solutions Architect for Kemp, described how they are all about Application Delivery. Their goal is to provide availability, scalability, security, performance and control of applications. That all sounds extremely cloudy, as I even noted during the event in regards to similarities with many of the public cloud frameworks.
Frank continued to give us a high level product overview, which was pretty refreshing in it’s simplicity. Kemp provides application delivery via it’s LoadMaster appliance. Global deployments of LoadMaster can be managed via 360 Central, and 360 Vision provides advanced analytics and insight into your LoadMaster footprint.
The big announcement for Kemp during TFDx at Dell Tech World was a joint solution with Dell EMC around their ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage) product. Dell EMC ECS is Dell’s Object Storage solution that is available via on-premises hardware, in the cloud or as a hosted service. Object storage has increased in popularity as public cloud options such as AWS S3 have really begun to see tremendous adoption. While there still is a huge rush to move to the cloud, many organizations are realizing that data locality can play a major part in application efficiency. Dell ECS gives the ability to have a truly hybrid approach to object storage, with Kemp integration to give efficient access to data.
The Kemp team proceeded to run through a couple of product demos that helped show the power of the Dell ECS with Kemp load balancing solution. First we got a look at the configuration from a Kemp LoadMaster perspective. The purpose of this demo was to show how load balancing affected the availability and performance of the environment. We were able to see the simplicity of the LoadMaster configuration, but also learned that the real secret sauce for the Kemp solution is in the templates that are available for turn key operations of their LoadMaster appliances. Kemp has done a lot of validation around many types of load balancing scenarios. Specifically pertaining to integration with ECS, they have worked very closely with Dell EMC to provide an out of the box solution.
The second demo involved a global load balancing scenario. Kurt Jung, Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer, took us through the topology and showed how Kemp was configured to provide application delivery with ECS across two physically separate locations. In the event of a WAN outage, or in the case of this demo, an outage on one of the load balanced services in a specific location, access to the ECS storage automatically continues via directing all traffic to the available site.
Both presentations were very interesting, not only in the technology that was presented, but in the corresponding partnerships with Dell EMC. Ever since Dell and EMC merged in 2016, they have maintained their standing as one of the mega players across the technology landscape. While we are certainly witnessing a large shift towards cloud transformation, there is still a huge market for all of the hardware that Dell offers. I look forward to seeing how these partnerships with Dell continue to play out in the ever changing IT landscape of the near future.