So I will start out with the bad of the conference first.
Some of the stuff was a little bit sticky to go through.. for example getting a room at the event rate, NDA shenanigans, that sort of administrative glitches that you would expect at their first try. The W was a little dark for my tastes and a little too swank for me + I didn’t have a shower curtain which I found strange. Also, the pace of things was a little taxing. I could have used a break!
So onto the good.
This was by far one of the best if not THE best conference I have ever been too. (Many people I know commented the same http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23eqlconf )
Here is another blog which has similiar sentiments! http://virtualizationbuster.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/opinion-the-first-ever-dellequallogic-users-conference/
So what made it so good? Well as far as I can tell they asked their customers what the topics they wanted to hear about and then they delivered! They limited the invite to around 100 customers and then invited I think 60 + engineers who were in charge of the actual areas we were learning\discussing about. When we gave feedback, the actual people in charge were there to listen to it! That was impressive! The energy surrounding the sessions was great, the instructors were clear, concise, and they knew their stuff! (How could they not, since it truly was ‘theirs’)
The energy and collaboration between customers was great. I got to meet a lot of people that I follow through twitter or read their blogs I.E. @s1xth @mattvogt @jimsu @JasonPowell @basecampnm @watermarkgeek @paulrhoades @scarnahan @fullerit
The social media following of the conference was very good with video interviews going out as well as various twitter and blogs.
Some of the things I took from the conference were pretty interesting. At one point they asked how many people still had their original generation 1 equallogic units and about 20-30 hands went up! Wow, not many products have that awesome of a following or backward compatibility. (As mentioned here )
ALL GENERATIONS of EqualLogic arrays are eligible for the latest firmware upgrade. They too benefit from the expansion of up to 16 members/arrays in a single group. One of the best selling points, beyond the widely accepted ridiculous ease of use, is the investment protection through backwards compatibility that Dell EqualLogic continues to deliver.
The next take away was in a session talking about EqualLogic integration tools. When asked how many people used the VMware integration tools only two people raised their hands… wow this was surprising since it seems that not a lot of people were familiar with what they bought (With EqualLogic you buy the unit and everything they offer comes along for the ride! this is in my opinion the only way to do licensing… the only way!) If I remember correctly about half the room was utilizing replication.
Another interesting take away was how many people were unfamiliar with using the iSCSI initiator from with a VM. (This is the only way to use some of the integration tools)
Another interesting concept was scaling out of your networking infrastructure. He whiteboarded it out by having two pairs of stacked switches connected by an interconnect. This would allow you take down one ‘switch’ (or stack) and add another switch to that stack all on the fly (because of redundant paths). I asked for a white paper on this concept 🙂 hopefully a number of whitepapers come out of this conference! Another I would like to see is a methodology for planning for replication.
Overall my take of the conference was very positive (As if you can’t tell ) It seems to me that instead of DELL screwing up EqualLogic (A worry that many have when a big company acquires a small one) the opposite might be occurring (err not EqualLogic screwing up DELL ha ha, but EL helping DELL, follow me here, OK! ). The cash infusion that Dell is able to provide for equallogic is allowing it to take off like a rocket, and the enthusiasm that EqualLogic exhibits appears to be contagious to DELL as a whole. (Just my opionion, don’t quote me on this) If even a small fraction of the usablity, UI, ease of use that EqualLogic displays leaked to the rest of the company this can only be a good thing!
I view EqualLogic as kind of an elite force operating inside of Dell (The EqualLogic beret’s ??? 😉 There is a definite advantage in my mind to keeping them an elite corp, as well as a certain esprit de corps to be gained by doing so. I’m ready to hold on and see where this storage takes me. Echoing one tweet, I’m once again glad we picked this storage!