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…

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/

Jul 262013
 

A Deeper Dive into Solid State Storage
Yeah, there’s some hype out there about solid state storage (SSS). No, I take that back…there’s a TON of hype out there around solid state storage. Why? Well, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of solid state drives (SSD) and where they might be used:

  • The main, primary benefit of using SSD over a spinning disk (HDD) is direct access
  • SSD flash memory does not require seek time (HDD does), resulting in higher transaction rates (IOPS) than HDD
  • An example of SSD vs HDD in IOPS:
    * 100 to 200 IOPS for HDD vs. 5,000 to 10,000 IOPS for SSD
  • A flash disk (SSD) can provide 40x better IOPS than a spinning disk (HDD)
  • SSD performs typically performs better for random workloads than sequential workloads
  • SSD read performance will typically be better than the write performance
    * SSD read speeds are normally 2x that of its write speeds
  • The cost per performance for SSD is much better for SSD (though the cost per TB is much better for HDD)
  • Power consumption for SSD is much better:
    * An SSD might use 1 watt while a HDD might use 10 watts
    * The power performance of an SSD is typically 1000s of IOPS/Watt vs. the performance of an HDD with only 10s of IOPS/Watt

Dell EqualLogic’s Answer to Solid State Storage and SSD
Does EqualLogic do SSD…? Of course! Dell EqualLogic is still the leader in the native iSCSI SAN marketplace, and EqualLogic pricing will reveal that it can do SSD in either a full SSD or a hybrid SSD solution:

1 Gigabit Ethernet

  • EqualLogic PS6100S-4.8TB (24x200GB SSD drives)
  • EqualLogic PS6100S-9.6TB (24x400GB SSD drives)
  • EqualLogic PS6100XS-13TB (7x400GB SSD with 17x600GB 10K SAS drives)

10GigE

  • EqualLogic PS6110S-4.8TB (24x200GB SSD drives)
  • EqualLogic PS6110S-9.6TB (24x400GB SSD drives)
  • EqualLogic PS6110XS-13TB (7x400GB SSD with 17x600GB 10K SAS drives)
Jul 172013
 

Frankly, it doesn’t make sense. EqualLogic has been shipping product for almost ten (10) years now and is the undisputed leader in pure iSCSI SAN solutions in the entire industry. But if you’ve been an EqualLogic SAN client for a number of years now, you want to ask yourself a few questions before you even consider looking beyond an EqualLogic SAN:

  • Have I kept my ProSupport agreements current, renewed, and up-to-date?
  • Have I brought my EqualLogic arrays up to the current code?
  • Have I updated my EqualLogic arrays with any and all appropriate security patches?
  • Have I reached out to my local EqualLogic rep or spoken with my EqualLogic reseller in the past six (6) months for the purpose of getting a technology refresh on EqualLogic?
  • Have I reached out to my noted team above for a Dell EqualLogic roadmap presentation for new products and / or features that will enhance my business environment?

Let’s face it, we’re all busy…and you’re right, that’s no excuse for not hearing from your Dell EqualLogic team. However, you bought your EqualLogic SAN for a reason…perhaps multiple reasons. One of the hot topics nowadays is the issue of integrated backups into your SAN, so before going down that road here are some questions to ask in regard to this (taken from Dell’s own product positioning team):

  • Do you want to risk losing your backups if the primary storage has a bug or there’s a human error?
  • If your backup and recovery solution is poor, how will you easily find a particular file to recover and restore it?
  • What kind of data is taking up the most space?

Thinking about expanding your EqualLogic SAN…? Updated EqualLogic pricing is available and now easier to configure than ever before.

Jul 092013
 

Okay, so you’re an SMB (Small to Mid-Sized Business) with a pretty good idea of how much capacity you need, and you’ve also determined that you’re going to go 10GigE for your storage and computer network.

So, of course you’ve done some research and found that Dell offers the perfect solution in their EqualLogic PS4110 series…great! Now the hard part: Deciding which one to buy. Well, here’s a basic breakdown for you to help you decide:

Model Value Proposition Differentiation
PS4110E Low entry price point

Lowest $/TB in the PS4110 line

Highest capacity arrays in the PS4110 line

Capacity-oriented NL-SAS

12, 24, 36 TB (12 HDD)

7,200 RPM NL-SAS 3.5”

PS4110XV 3.5” Balance of cost, performance and capacity for enterprise data centers High-performance and Capacity SAS

7.2TB (12 HDD)

15K RPM SAS, 3.5”

Remember, you can only have two (2) PS4110 in a single group or logical SAN. This means that you can even have a PS4110E-36TB array in the same group as a PS4110XV-7.2TB where you dedicate your lower-end traffic to the PS4110E and your higher-end (database) traffic to your PS4110XV.

EqualLogic pricing for these units prices these very aggressively, even without any discounts…and with ProSupport plans spanning three, four, or even five years long, these 10GigE iSCSI SAN units can go a long way in providing the SMB with capacity and feature-rich SAN functionality for years.