Aug 302013
 

Dell EqualLogic’s software code of Version 6.0 has been out for a while…but how many of you know about SAN HQ 2.6, which now includes SupportAssist? You don’t…? Well, let’s talk about this for a minute…especially if you originally drawn to EqualLogic for its set-and-forget approach.

With SupportAssist, the proactive approach to Dell EqualLogic SANs just got proactive-ier. Dell EqualLogic indicates that SupportAssist is “…designed to proactively collect data and detect failures in your EqualLogic storage infrastructure. When enabled by your Storage Administrator, system log and diagnostic data will be transmitted to Dell Support to help accelerate the detection and streamline the resolution of issues.

“Now, SAN HQ working with SupportAssist can enable certain types of support cases to be opened automatically. For these cases, Dell Support will proactively begin working the issue and advise you that a case has been opened. Dell will continue to build in additional SupportAssist capabilities for EqualLogic to deliver a proactive and automated support process that helps improve productivity and accuracy while helping you gain insight and control.”

SupportAssist has been part of other Dell storage and networking solutions like PowerEdge servers, PowerVault SANs, and PowerConnect switches. Now it’s part of EqualLogic, too. And what’s the EqualLogic price for SupportAssist? Nothing! It’s all part of the embedded and advanced software that comes with each EqualLogic storage array…even legacy EqualLogic arrays can have all of the latest and greatest software features so long as ProSupport is maintained. Not bad, eh…?

References:

Dell equallogic data management software. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.dellstorage.com/equallogic/software/

Aug 232013
 

For many years now, Dell EqualLogic has encouraged its clients to use network switches that will best leverage the iSCSI architecture the EqualLogic iSCSI SANs were meant to produce. To ensure full interoperability and compliance with Dell’s “Level 1: Full Contract Support” policies, it has provided a “Dell EqualLogic Storage: Compatibility Matrix” guide that lists the switches that fall within the Level 1: Full Contract Support category.

In addition to this list, it is also recommended that you seek out the right switch firmware version and array software version to ensure maximum compatibility and interoperability here. For your convenience, the switches are listed here:

1 Gigabit Switches

Brocade: RX

Cisco: Catalyst 3750X-48T-L, Catalyst 4948 10Gb, M3130G, M3130X

Dell: PowerConnect B-Series RX, Force10 C-Series, Force10 S25N, Force10 S50N, Force10 S55, Force10 S60, PowerConnect 6224, PowerConnect 6248, PowerConnect 7024, PowerConnect 7048, PowerConnect M6220, PowerConnect M6348

Juniper Networks: EX4200-48T

10GigE Switches

Dell: Force10 S4810P, Force10 S4820T, Dell Networking S5000, Force10 MXL1, PowerEdge IO Aggregator1, PowerConnect 8024F, PowerConnect 8024, PowerConnect M8024, PowerConnect M8024-k, PowerConnect M8428-k, PowerConnect 8132/8132F, PowerConnect 8164/8164F, PowerConnect B-Series 8000e, PowerConnect J-Series EX4500-40F

Brocade: 8000e, TurboIron 24X, VDX 6720-60

Cisco: Nexus 5010, Nexus 5020, Nexus 5548

Juniper Networks: EX4500-40F

Dell EqualLogic defines Level 1: Full Contract Support as, “For tested devices listed in this Compatibility Matrix, (for the specific version listed), Dell will provide EqualLogic solution support, under an active EqualLogic support contract assuming that all other components in the EqualLogic solution are also under contracted support with their respective manufacturers and that documented recommended design best practices are followed.”

Don’t have one of the switches above…? Not to worry…EqualLogic pricing often contains a compatible switch from the Level 1: Full Contract Support Compatibility Matrix, but any Dell EqualLogic reseller can also help provide full EqualLogic pricing to include a switch here.

Aug 162013
 

Let’s be frank. Every iSCSI SAN in the industry has certain areas and / or environments where it’s going to do extremely well in where there may be certain areas where it can perform “well enough” in but the cost point might be rather high. For example, a very well-known flash-based storage provider in the industry might do very well with certain types of data but falls flat on its face when it comes to Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) data.

Dell EqualLogic is no different by way of its strengths and weaknesses…although in light of the fact that it’s the #1 pure iSCSI SAN leader in the industry might suggest that it has way more strengths than weaknesses. The following is taken from one of its presentations:

Key Differentiators

  • Best total cost of ownership (TCO) in industry
  • 97% of Dell EqualLogic customers would recommend it to their peers
  • Rated number one for virtual servers by IDC

Easy To Manage

  • Enterprise-class iSCSI SAN without the management headaches or expense
  • Continuous resource monitoring, online demand capacity expansion without disruption
  • Tight integration with vendor applications/interfaces (Microsoft, VMware, Linux)
  • Converge blade servers, storage and networking

Easy To Virtualize

  • Highly virtualized, peer storage that scales performance and capacity linearly with automated load balancing for dynamic, virtualized environments
  • 74% of Dell EqualLogic users run VMware
  • Built for and ready to support VDI deployments

Storage That Endures Over Time

  • All-inclusive software functionality
  • Avoid forklift upgrades with multi-generational compatibility that eases migration
  • Environment flexibility that allows mixed and matched arrays to build tiered storage within a single pool or across multiple pools

Looks like a pretty powerful list to me. Now, is the Dell EqualLogic the most powerful and highest performing iSCSI SAN on the planet…? Perhaps…perhaps not. But one only has to look at the facts and weigh in the EqualLogic pricing compared to what you’re getting to realize a Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN is a no-brainer.

Aug 092013
 

In April 2012, The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) completed a five-year study entitled “Dell EqualLogic TCO Analysis – Multi-generational Manageability and Efficiency at a Low Cost” that pitted the Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN against the top iSCSI vendors in the industry.

What they found was something that I.T. professionals have been touting for many years now…that their Dell EqualLogic SANs maintain the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of any iSCSI SAN in the industry over a five-year period.

The report also said, “When deploying Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SANs, costs are up to 47% less in smaller deployments and 55% less in larger deployments than nearly identical offerings in the market.”

What the Numbers Mean

EqualLogic TCO

Here’s a breakdown of some of the main points and results from the test:

  • Dell EqualLogic has the lowest total cost of ownership.
  • In the small storage solution, Dell ($228,111) costs 41% and 47% less than nearly identical offerings from Vendor A ($384,536) and Vendor B ($429,751).
  • In the large storage solution, Dell ($429,086) costs 39% and 55% less than nearly identical offerings from Vendor A ($699,510) and Vendor B ($958,316).
  • Dell charges no additional license or maintenance fee for any software used with PS series storage systems. Many times, when things are offered for no additional charge in one area, another area increases to make up the difference. Dell has not increased costs in other areas to make up for the free software.
  • The management costs associated with Vendor A and Vendor B are 50% to 60% more expensive than with Dell. This includes the cost of migrating old data, system upgrades after three years, and manpower.
  • With lower hardware costs and no software costs, Dell support costs are also significantly lower than those of both competing vendors.

Clients and interested parties may always obtain EqualLogic pricing and conduct their own studies.

Resources:

ESG Lab Report, “Dell EqualLogic TCO Analysis – Multi-generational Manageability and Efficiency at a Low Cost,” an April 2012 report sponsored by Dell. For the full report see: http://en.community.dell.com/dell-groups/dtcmedia/m/mediagallery/20097135/download.aspx

 

Aug 022013
 

Well, maybe not completely coming together…but Dell customers who have both the EqualLogic iSCSI SAN as well as the Compellent SAN have long desired some kind of interoperability between the two storage arrays.

A recent interview conducted by El Reg with Dell Storage’s VP and General Manager Alan Atkinson reveals a few storage announcements slated for the second half of this year. Among these is the revelation that there will be some interoperability between the Dell EqualLogic SAN and the Dell Compellent SAN, particularly around snapshots and replication. The article states:

“The twin hearts of Dell’s storage platform strategy are EqualLogic and Compellent, historically iSCSI and Fibre Channel access block storage arrays respectively. (PowerVault sits below them in a cheap and deep storage product category.)

The two products are going to come closer together with, we understand, the ability to replicate and snapshot between them; storing EqualLogic snapshots on Compellent for example.

There is no word though on common management for the two, although Pete Korce, Atkinson’s co-GM for storage, said it was coming at the Dell Enterprise Forum in June.”

This is great news for clients who enjoy leveraging iSCSI for certain applications and Fibre Channel for others. Is there potential to completely combine both arrays in the future…? Uncertain at this point, but the future does look brighter for both of these arrays as Dell looks to develop and expand its current storage product line vs. secure it by acquisition. In either case, EqualLogic pricing would reveal just how cost effective these solutions will be.

 

Resources:

Chris, M. (2013, July 25). Dell: New storage dish? nah – we’ll just mash up equallogic and compellent. Retrieved from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/25/dells_deliberate_adaptiveness/