Sep 302016
 

Dell EqualLogic 4200 Series

The PS4210 Series is a new entry-level to the dual-controller EqualLogic-based PS storage line. It uses 10GbitE iSCSI access and includes the first entry-level hybrid flash and disk array in the PS line. Overall the product line offers up to 48TB of capacity in its 2U enclosure with both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive options.

ps4210_front

ps4210-back-1

A quick product line summary for the 4200:

PS4210E — up to 12 x 3.5-inch hot plug drives and 48TB (capacity)
PS4210X — 24 x 2.5-inch 10K SAS disk — to 28.8TB (better performance)
PS4210XV — 24 x 10K SAS disks — to 7.2TB (faster performance)
PS4210 XV — 3.5-inch — 12 x 15K 3.5-inch SAS disks — 7.2TB (fewer spindles than XV)
PS4210XS — the hybrid with 7 x 400GB SSD and 17 x 10K 2.5-inch disk — to 13TB (fastest performer).

The PS4210 has twice the cache and twice the number of 10GbitE ports of the PS4110. The hybrid model has a 6x performance improvement over the previous line.

Nov 252015
 

In Dell’s continuing effort to provide flash-based and hybrid-flash solutions for its ever-expanding client base, it has released additional iSCSI SAN units to meet this demand:

PS6100S-19.2TB

  • Provides 19.2TBs of raw capacity
  • 24 800GB SSD drives
  • 8GB backup cache
  • Four (4) 1GigE ports per controller
  • All-inclusive firmware, software, and advanced features

PS6100XS-26TB

  • Provides 26TBs of raw capacity
  • Contains 24 Drives: Seven (7) 800GB SSD drives and seventeen (17) 1.2TB 10K SAS drives
  • 8GB backup cache
  • Four (4) 1GigE ports per controller
  • All-inclusive firmware, software, and advanced features

These EqualLogic iSCSI SAN arrays, as well as all EqualLogic arrays, are available through self-service EqualLogic pricing. Dell EqualLogic also requires the purchase of a ProSupport agreement (Next Business Day, 4-Hour Mission Critical, etc.) along with Installation (I suggest Remote Installation…only costs $799) and Shipping & Handling. If you’re purchasing something this high-end, you want to make sure you have an iSCSI-optimized network switch (like a Dell PowerConnect 7024 or a Force10 S25N) to go along with it.

Nov 152013
 

While many storage managers and administrators continue to be the primary drivers into storage area networks and finding the best fit for their storage networks, we are starting to see some security network administrators give their “2 cents” when it comes to selecting a storage area network, whether it’s a Dell EqualLogic or a Dell Compellent SAN. “Why?” you might ask…? Aside from sheer boredom, more storage arrays are now shipping with self-encrypting drives, sometimes called SED drives.

How are these different from your standard NL-SAS, SAS, and / or SSD drives I might already finding on EqualLogic pricing or Compellent pricing…? Well, they’re really not…but essentially these self-encrypting drives are being built with a circuit that comes embedded into the disk drive controller chip.

What this essentially does is encrypt and decrypt the data that is put onto the magnetic media without any human intervention. In fact, the SED drives come factory-default on many HDD and SSD drives.

There’s really a lot more detail that goes into the SED drives such as password creation, etc., but we’re not going to bore you with all the finite details here. What’s important to note is that SED drives are relevant in preventing data loss while performance is not impacted. So next time you seek EqualLogic pricing or Compellent pricing on a Dell storage solution, ask if the drives have SED…the price is a bit more, but it could be worth it…

Nov 012013
 

That’s right, you read that right! Dell EqualLogic is working to maintain its #1 position as the leading iSCSI SAN provider in the industry with its new hybrid-flash iSCSI SAN solutions. And you can bet that more of these flash-based and hybrid-flash solutions will be on the way soon. In the meantime, let’s take a look at two (2) new hybrid-flash arrays by Dell EqualLogic.

EqualLogic PS6500ES
When the EqualLogic PS6500 series of arrays first broke into the iSCSI SAN scene (with its codename “Sumo”), it immediately gained credibility with its drive densities. Each of the PS6500 arrays carries 48 drives, and the PS6500ES is no different…a snapshot will reveal:

  • Raw capacity: 84.4TBs
  • Dual 1GbE controllers with a total of 4 GB battery-backed memory per array
  • Seven (7) 400 GB SSDs + Forty-one (41) 2 TB NL-SAS
  • RAID Support: RAID 6 Accelerated
  • Can be combined with other EqualLogic PS Series arrays in the same SAN group, online; up to 16 total members per group (do the math on that one!!!)

Combine this bad boy with the recently-announced FluidFS v3 of the EqualLogic FS7600, and now you have compression and deduplication! EqualLogic pricing will reveal a very competitively priced EqualLogic FS6500ES that will allow it to go head-to-head against any so-called hybrid-flash solution out there on the market.

EqualLogic PS6510ES
This array is essentially the same as the PS6500ES…except for the fact that it is 10GigE instead of 1GigE. Plus, this array has two (2) 10GigE ports per controller. Other than this, all of the drive amounts, sizes, and features are the same. And once again, EqualLogic pricing will reveal this to be a very competitively priced 10GigE iSCSI SAN for a hybrid-flash array.

Oct 182013
 

A few years ago, Dell (finally) caught onto the importance of integrating and consolidating one’s file servers into one of the more enterprise-level SANs they already have, such as EqualLogic. As the fastest-growing iSCSI SAN in history, EqualLogic does what EqualLogic does best: Storage Area Network. However, many of its clients wanted to see a more holistic approach to its overall storage infrastructure to include their file servers and NAS protocol traffic such as NFS / CIFS / SMB.

In Dell’s effort to appease this demand, it created the EqualLogic FS7500 (and FS7510). The next generation of this solution saw the FS7600 / FS7610…in fact, previous blog posts have already been written to this effect.

However, as part of Dell’s next version – the FluidFS v3 – the Dell EqualLogic FS7600 / FS7610 will now begin to carry additional features that will further position itself as a market leader in not only SAN technology but also NAS technology to interface with its award-winning EqualLogic iSCSI SAN. These features include compression and deduplication.

Customers will have the choice to set up certain policies for their EqualLogic FS7600 / FS7610 NAS in regard to deduplication as well, such as: 1) dedupe only – address high redundancy and read performance sensitivity, and 2) dedupe and compression – offers the best savings and is the default recommendation.

The Dell EqualLogic solution will also include a discussion around FluidFS FDR – Fluid Data Reduction. So, based on technology from Ocarina, this will allow you to incorporate common file type compressors at no additional charge (FDR won’t work on active files…nor will it work with file-level cloning). But on average, customers using FDR as part of their FluidFS solution will see an average of 50% savings on their Home Shares, about 64% savings on Engineering files, and about 3% on Internet Media.

This is all slated to take place next month for the EqualLogic NAS…and of course all of these new features are included in EqualLogic pricing.

Oct 122013
 

Yup, you read that title right: EqualLogic CAN be used with Oracle databases and in Oracle environments. In fact, EqualLogic can be used for any relational database system. But because many – if not most – of the Oracle transactional workloads are IOPS-bound, EqualLogic SAN arrays are constructed to scale with this demand.

EqualLogic SANs have a “scale-out” architecture, so as you add additional EqualLogic arrays to an existing SAN group, you are also increasing cache memory and spindle count within the SAN. Plus, with features such as automated load balancing, which will see the “data volumes of the pre-existing workloads…automatically and non-disruptively distributed across the additional spindles, helping provide linear increases in performance and capacity.”

In addition to this, because Oracle is one of the largest technology partners with Dell, EqualLogic’s architecture also enables Oracle’s partitioning to be combined with EqualLogic’s online volume migration, “allowing Oracle partitions to be optimally placed and non-disruptively migrated between storage tiers.” Furthermore, the EqualLogic SAN also “automatically migrates hot blocks to solid state drives providing real-time automated tiering of Oracle workloads within partitions, in effect, at the sub-volume (sub-LUN) level.”

Bet you didn’t know that, did you…? And bet you didn’t know that the EqualLogic PS6000XVS hybrid SAS-SSD array was the winner of the InfoWorld 2010 Technology of the Year award…? Other vendors try to pull off a “hybrid” with Nearline SAS (NLSAS) or even SATA drives…yeah, SATA drives with SSD…? C’mon, give me a break. EqualLogic uses SAS with SSD to give you what you need. Really. EqualLogic pricing will reveal both the PS6100XS-13TB (1GigE) and the PS6110XS-13TB (10GigE) available for purchase right now. So before you go out and “look” at other options, realize that EqualLogic already has it all here…

More information on this topic can be found in the Dell EqualLogic Solution Brief entitled, “Affordable, powerful storage for Oracle database with Dell EqualLogic.”

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 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 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.