Take Five With Tom Fenton

5 Final Thoughts on Dell Technologies World

With so much to take in in only three days, I spent the trip back home decompressing and reflecting on everything I learned and experienced.

Vegas from April 30-May 3, and this was an exceptionally busy year for the conference. The event drew in more than 14,000 attendees from 129 countries, and hosted 120 exhibitors showing their wares. With so much to take in in only three days, I spent the trip back home decompressing and reflecting on everything I learned and experienced. Now that I'm back home having had a chance to piece together my thoughts, here are my top five takeaways from Dell Technologies World this year.

TAKE 1
Dell Technologies is not about hardware. It's a given that Dell Technologies is one of the largest suppliers of storage, as well as servers for the datacenter, and is No. 1 or No. 2 in most of the categories that it serves. However, a fair amount of time was spent on software, which is not a surprise as five of the seven companies that make up Dell Technologies (Dell, EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware) are software-centric. Dell really drove that point home this year.

TAKE 2
Dell Technologies still cares about hardware. Although the conference was not totally hardware-centric, Dell Technologies made it evident that it is still investing a huge amount of resources on its hardware portfolio. The company's server line is solid and has been updated with some impressive top-of-the-line servers. Its storage line is still finding ways to be innovative, such as making an entry-level XtremIO system, and make it possible to collocate an Isilon system in Google's datacenter. By all accounts, data collection will increase dramatically in the future, and we'll need hardware to get value from it. Dell seems bent on providing this hardware.

TAKE 3
Great sessions. The majority of the sessions that I attended were presented by employees of the Dell Technologies family, which was fine; in general, the presenters were knowledgeable, and the sessions were well done. The sessions that I really got the most out of, however, were the ones presented by the consumers of Dell's technology. These sessions seemed to be a little bit rawer and unscripted, and I walked away feeling like I was getting the whole story, warts and all, from the boots-on-the-ground point of view.

TAKE 4
Hands-on Labs. AI have a love/hate relationship with Hands-on Labs at conferences. I love working with the technology, but I hate taking time away from sessions to attend them. Perhaps most frustrating is it always seems that when I have gaps in my schedule, everyone else does, as well, and the queues for Hands-on Labs are always long when I've tried to do them at past conferences. That said, I did get a chance to do the Isilon lab, and found it well put together. I may have just been lucky, but this year I didn't encounter any lines for the labs.

TAKE 5
Dell wants to change the world. An interesting theme I found evident during the conference was Dell's optimism for the overall future of the world. Dell stressed how its technology is helping people live better lives. An interesting example and story the company provided was AeroFarms, a company that works with vertical farming, thereby using 95 percent less water and omitting the use of pesticides. Dell also discussed how technology is helping people in ways such as helping the blind to see, and using DNA to diagnose disease. A doctor at USC spoke about using Dell servers to provide virtual reality (VR) for the treatment of PTSD. Ashton Kutcher, actor and investor, was brought on stage, and he talked about investing in technology, as well as how his nonprofit organization Thorn has used technology to stop child sexual abuse. Overall, Dell did an excellent job of putting a human face on technology to promote its implications for doing greater global good.

Final Thoughts
Dell Technologies World 2018 was a great opportunity to catch up and chat with old acquaintances, and to learn more about today's technology and about the future of the industry. If you missed the event this year, I would suggest that you block out the time and set a line in your budget to attend next year. If you would like a more detailed look at the event, be sure to read my article.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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