Sep 272013
 

The EqualLogic iSCSI SAN was the very first pure iSCSI SAN to become part of VMWare’s Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), and since then it has continued a very strong relationship with VMware by integrating VMware’s latest and greatest tools to leverage the technologies from both platforms.

For example, if one takes a look at some of the more recent EqualLogic tools and integrations for VMware’s vSphere, EqualLogic has been able to take VMware’s storage APIs and leverage them for better performance and utilization. There’s no additional cost for these features…everything’s already part of the EqualLogic pricing. Let’s take EqualLogic’s support for VAAI…a report from The Taneja Group, Inc. says:

“The EqualLogic PS Series was one of the first storage systems to incorporate VAAI support in its firmware. This integration allows the array to perform important storage tasks on behalf of vSphere and thereby improve performance and utilization of the entire infrastructure. Tasks such as full hardware‐accelerated data copy, fixed-zero writes, and volume locking are performed much more effectively in the array, freeing up VMware host-compute resources and network bandwidth. Internal testing at Dell has shown that both host overhead and network traffic can be reduced by over 70%.

“Virtual machine provisioning was also shown to be significantly faster in these same tests. EqualLogic also includes support for added thin-provisioned stun awareness, which greatly reduces the impact of exceeding available space on a thin-­‐provisioned volume. By delegating these tasks to the storage layer, customers can deploy new VMs from templates quickly and easily, and enjoy higher performance for shared storage volumes. Most recently. EqualLogic PS Series firmware version 6.0 has also introduced support for using SCSI unmap operations to recover unused space previously allocated to volumes. VMware vSphere 5.0 customers get better storage utilization with this volume unmap feature.”

To this day, EqualLogic still remains one of the very first iSCSI SAN vendors to quickly integrate new VMware features each and every release and upgrade. For more details on VMware and EqualLogic’s integration, particularly around EqualLogic’s integration tools, please see the Technology Brief by The Taneja Group, Inc. entitled “BETTER TOGETHER: OPTIMIZING VMWARE VSPHERE DEPLOYMENTS WITH DELL’S EQUALLOGIC INTEGRATION TOOLS” for a complete breakdown of features and functionality.

References:

(2012). Better together: Optimizing vmware vsphere deployments with dell’s equallogic integration tools. Taneja Group Technology Analysis – Technology Brief.

Sep 202013
 

Now that you’ve fixed your storage problem by buying that new EqualLogic iSCSI SAN, what about addressing shared access through standards protocols such as CIFS/SMB and NFS…? Unfortunately, your typical SAN – not even the mighty EqualLogic iSCSI SAN – will address such protocols directly. What to do…?

Customer demand has driven the answer: the EqualLogic FS7600 / FS7610 NAS appliance.

Instead of having to find or purchase a separate NAS to address their CIFS/SMB and NFS protocols and shared access, EqualLogic clients can now have a NAS solution that fully integrates into your current or future EqualLogic SAN. Please note: The Dell EqualLogic FS7600 / 7610 must be used in conjunction with an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN array…it cannot be used as a standalone NAS.

There are two (2) versions of the EqualLogic NAS: 1) the 1-Gigabit solution (FS7600), and 2) the 10GigE solution (FS7610). These NAS appliances are the second generation appliances, stemming from the EqualLogic FS7500 series.

Dell Storage’s website indicates that, “Deployment and management of the FS7600 Series is fully integrated into EqualLogic Group Manager, including administration, monitoring and maintenance operations. Group Manager automates the initial setup and configuration of your FS7600 system, simplifying the process of creating volumes and shares.

Key Benefits of the Dell EqualLogic FS7600 FS7610 NAS:

  • Unified IP storage solution (iSCSI, CIFS, NFS)
  • Single file share scalability up to the full capacity of the EqualLogic deployment, currently validated to 509TB
  • Asynchronous, file system-level, snapshot-based replication to peer FS7600 Series systems
  • User-restorable snapshots
  • NDMP Back-Up
  • Compatible with all EqualLogic arrays running a current firmware version
  • Integrated with Group Manager, easy-to-use EqualLogic management software, or use the Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Inclusive software delivery model
  • Single namespace with load balanced IO
  • Mirrored, battery-backed write cache
  • RAID 5, 6, 10, 50C”

As with all EqualLogic devices, EqualLogic pricing is available for both the EqualLogic FS7600 as well as the EqualLogic FS7610.

Sep 132013
 

As I mentioned in my previous EqualLogic blog(s), EqualLogic pricing has gone down over the years, allowing clients to take advantage of some great cost-per-TB solutions. But many clients have admitted that even with some very aggressive price drops, the low price still might not be enough to secure a much-needed EqualLogic SAN.

Dell’s recent product announcements (such as the Dell Enterprise Forum US) have recently revealed some very insightful and much anticipated news about solutions and financing that many clients have been waiting for for a long time. The focus of this particular blog posting will focus on the specials and incentives around the financing aspect of Dell solutions, particularly around the EqualLogic iSCSI SAN.

Through Dell Financial Services (DFS), Dell has announced two (2) leasing options: 1) 0% EqualLogic Lease Offer and 2) Power Up Lease Offer.

0% EqualLogic Lease Offer
Let’s take, for example, you decided to finance $25,000 worth of EqualLogic hardware, software (ProSupport), and installation for a 36-month Finance Lease (Ownership). Because of the 0% EqualLogic Lease option, you would see:

  • Average Monthly Payment: $694
  • Sum of Payments: $25,000
  • Impact to Annual Budget: $8,328
  • Opportunity Cost: $1,173 (what you might save on interest assuming a 3% over 36 months)

Power Up Lease Offer
Now, it gets even better…what if you wanted to take the same $25,000 EqualLogic amount and opt for a 36-month Fair Market Value Lease (Rotation). Let’s take a look at the breakdown here:

  • Average Monthly Payment: $663
  • Sum of Payments: $23,861
  • Impact to Annual Budget: $7,956
  • Opportunity Cost: $2,312 (what you might save on interest assuming a 3% over 36 months)

So, compare the above two options to a straight Net 30 Terms purchase via purchase order. Your initial cash outlay is $25,000…your sum of payments is $25,000, and your impact to your annual budget is $25,000. And did I mention the business tax advantages of leasing…? Well, talk to your accountant about that…we’re just here to share our Dell EqualLogic findings and EqualLogic pricing with you…

Sep 062013
 

Over the past several years, we’ve all seen the cost of storage-based disk drives steadily go down. We all expected that, right? Every 6 to 12 months or so, the technology solution you purchased will improve or enhance while the cost either stays the same or goes slightly down. In other words, things get better and better by way of technology and price. We’re always looking for ways to do something more effectively while lowering the cost.

Within the iSCSI SAN industry, we’ve also seen this trend as well. For example, when EqualLogic first began shipping its PS storage arrays, the EqualLogic PS50E (half a PS100E) would cost around $21,000 for just a TB or two. Now, fast-forward eight years…the EqualLogic PS4100E you can get 12TBs of raw capacity with a three-year ProSupport agreement for all under $15K. That’s pretty good.

But what you see here is an ever-decreasing “cost per TB.” This model has essentially worked well for clients who need a definable way to measure cost in comparison to their storage capacity requirements. If one can get the cost per TB low enough, it might appear like a “good deal.”

But…Buyer Beware…

While cost is always important, this shouldn’t be the driving factor in your storage analysis…especially when it comes to your network which contains database applications and critical data that shouldn’t be comprised. If you haven’t had some time of network analysis done or a DPACK done on your storage traffic, consider doing so…because even though EqualLogic pricing would indicate that purchasing an EqualLogic PS6100X, PS6100XV, or even a PS6100S might be more expensive, the increase in performance would benefit you in the long-run.

For example, if you were faced with the choice of buying two pens – one was a $1 and the other $5 – you might simply opt to purchase the $1 one for cost’s sake. However, what if (hypothetically) you were tasked to write a manual by hand and could only grab one pen en route to do so…you’d wish you would have had the $5 pen, right…? Same thing in storage. Those applications peak and user demands are heavy…and your organization is always expanding and adding applications and data, so wouldn’t it make sense to secure the right EqualLogic storage solution in the long-run that is going to really maximize your applications and store data at optimal levels? So, remember, cost per TB will win in the short-term but cost per GB performance will win in the long-run…it always does, ask the tortoise…