EqualLogic User Conference: Michael Dell

The highlight of day 2 at the EqualLogic User Conference in cloudy San Diego, was the involvement of founder and CEO, Michael Dell. Mr. Dell walked the halls talking to end-users, presented a lively keynote, and participated in a small Q&A for bloggers. Dell’s CEO, and industry icon, delivered the message personally to conference attendees…EqualLogic customers are important.

Mr. Dell opened his keynote by reminding the audience that Dell started as a storage company—building hard disk drive upgrade kits for the first generation of IBM PCs that had only floppy disk drives. He then joked about his switch to selling computers and how he ended up doing “okay.” But he followed with a serious litany of Dell storage accomplishments. Since the acquisition of EqualLogic, Dell has installed over 46,000 arrays; achieved a run-rate over $800 million in EqualLogic revenue; added 22,000 customers; lowered storage costs by an average of one third; and achieved 98% customer satisfaction. He inferred that as a result of this success, Dell EqualLogic is now installing huge petabyte configurations that position the company to scale into larger enterprises. Mr. Dell then looked forward. He talked about expanding the Dell storage franchise to include block and file services based on Exascale technology, and he talked about Dell’s intention to be a leader in Ethernet storage featuring lossless Ethernet based on Data Center Bridging (DCB). Lastly, one end-user asked Mr. Dell to comment on the attempted 3Par acquisition. After several comments about the exorbitant premium paid for 3Par, he summarized by saying, “at some point, winning equals losing.”

My day at the EqualLogic End User Conference ended with a twist. Events of this type are hardly known for inspirational moments, but this event was an exception. During the Q&A with about a dozen end-user bloggers, the room went silent as one blogger described how he was visually impaired, and how difficult it was for him to use the EqualLogic graphical user interface. He politely, but boldly, asked Michael Dell if EqualLogic would consider doing something to make the GUI more friendly for him, and others like him. Before Mr. Dell had a chance to answer, a Dell software engineering executive in the room said that, after a major re-write, version 5.0 of the EqualLogic firmware was compliant with certain parts of Section 508 standards for IT accessibility. The smiles on the faces of everyone in the room said it all. We were all inspired by the by the work that Dell has done. Afterwards, I spoke briefly to the visually impaired end-user and I’m hoping to write a follow-up article about his specific needs and the 508 standards.

While center-stage, Michael Dell mentioned the need to take risks. As a result, I’m looking for Dell to continue their aggressive acquisition of components needed to strengthen their storage portfolio. Tomorrow I’ll wrap-up my coverage of the Dell
EqualLogic User Conference.


posted by: Frank Berry