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/

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)
Feb 022013
 

A very attractive draw for the Dell EqualLogic SAN has always been its fully redundant architecture…but one has to stop and think about what exactly that means. This is a question to not only pose for EqualLogic iSCSI SAN arrays but also any storage area network area out there in the industry that you might be investigating. Here’s a look at EqualLogic’s breakdown:

  • Dual Controllers – by default, EqualLogic SAN arrays come with two controllers; in EqualLogic’s early days, they did make some arrays as single controller to help reduce costs, but any EqualLogic arrays made now are always dual controller
    • Each controller comes with 4GB of memory and offers cache to flash (data protection reasons)
    • Each controller has multiple Ethernet ports
  • Hot Swappable Hard Disk Drives – each of the drives (NL-SAS, SAS, SSD, etc.) is hot swappable, which means you don’t have to power down the unit in order to swap out drives
  • Expansion for Grouping – depending on which array you purchase, you can group them into groups of two members (PS4100 / PS4110) or up to 16 members (PS6100 / 6110), creating and increasing processing power and management options
  • Enclosure Monitoring System – this is more software-based and includes:
    • Automatic spare configuration and utilization
    • SMART
    • Automatic bad block replacement
    • Auto-Stat Disk Monitoring System (ADMS) – constantly polls the health of data on disk drives
  • Multiple Management Interfaces – SAN HQ (see previous blog posting for details), SNMP, telnet, SSH, HTTP, Web (SSL), host scripting, serial console, multi-administrator support, and the ability to configure a separate management network
  • Dual Power Supplies and Cooling Fans – these are also hot swappable
  • Additional Redundant Features
    • Vertical port sharing
    • Individual disk drive slot power control

EqualLogic pricing includes all of the above features and hardware and more, at no additional cost. Everything is built into the price of the EqualLogic SAN solution and must be maintained with one of its ProSupport packages to ensure continued protection of your EqualLogic SAN for years to come.

Oct 252011
 

NOTE: Dell End-of-Life policies may change over time. Please refer to your specific equipment warranty and replacement policies.

Every six to nine months or so, Dell EqualLogic will release a new EqualLogic product line. Heck, some of you might even still have an EqualLogic PS300E or PS5000E. Out with the old and in with the new…right?

Well, not necessarily!

That’s the beauty of an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN solution. You don’t have to tear out, rip-out-and-replace, or forklift upgrade your storage area network (SAN) every time there is a new model release. Remember that old PS50E or PS100E? Keep it! The EqualLogic iSCSI SAN architecture is built to add and expand what you currently have to the newer models (there may be some limitations reaching back more than 5 years or across certain architectures). But for the most part, you can virtually “glue” members together and extend their useful life.

So, when EqualLogic announces an “End of Sale” on their current product line, it simply means that they’re phasing into the new product line and that the old product line (at the time of this writing, the EqualLogic S4000, PS6000, PS6010, PS6510, and PS6500 series) will no longer be actively sold or positioned.

But please note that support for these products will continue based on their End-of-Life plan, usually 3-5 years, sometimes more. Best advice? Keep up with your ProSupport contracts through Dell EqualLogic. Get these renewed each and every year to maximize your value.

So, keep that old EqualLogic array in your network…and buy that new one, virtually add it to your existing group or use the old one to replicate to…either way, it’s still good.

 Posted by at 10:47 am
Jan 262011
 

Well, you tell me. You and / or your company have just invested more money in an EqualLogic SAN than the cost of your own vehicle. Heck, probably several vehicles. In other words, you’ve invested – or are about to invest – a lot of money into a premium EqualLogic iSCSI SAN solution…a solution that actually does what it says it’s gonna do. So, yeah, you need ProSupport…but now a couple of questions arise:

What kind of ProSupport do I need…and how much does EqualLogic Support Cost?

Okay, let me break it down for you.

There are two major types of ProSupport – Mission-Critical (MC) and Next Business Day (NBD). From these two options, you have a choice between 1, 3, 4 or 5 years of ProSupport when you initially purchase your EqualLogic SAN in addition to different response times (2-hour, 4-hour, 6-hour).

So which do you choose…? Simple. Listen closely…actually, read closely…

Mission-Critical – select this option for one or multiple reasons:

  1. The EqualLogic SAN will be placed in a location where there will be no technical staff available to physically manage it
  2. Your organization has true mission-critical applications that rely heavily upon the EqualLogic SAN being up always…you know, the kinds of applications you’d get a pink slip for if they ever go down
  3. You simply need the peace of mind that someone will show up within two or four hours with spare EqualLogic parts and a red cape to come and save the day and fix it for you
  4. Your company can afford it, you have some free money (let’s talk…I can help you here…ha!) and / or your company simply has a business requirement that all applications be serviced with mission-critical support agreements
  5. Lack the technical confidence of changing out hot-swappable parts and would rather allocate just a bit more time on “other” projects

Next Business Day – select this option for one or multiple reasons:

  1. None of the above reasons under Mission-Critical really apply
  2. The location where the EqualLogic SAN is to be located is surrounded with technical gurus
  3. Your technical confidence and competence is through the roof
  4. You really don’t have the money for Mission-Critical…but, hey, don’t worry about it…most companies are in this spot as well…
  5. You like to get your hands dirty and exercise those technical skills once in a while…trust me, swapping out hot-swappable parts and configuring a SAN in under 20 minutes can be hard work…

That’s really just about it. But don’t forget…we have EqualLogic Pricing available through our self-service pricing model to give you the options. Honestly, Dell doesn’t do this…you know what they do…? They tuck the cost of ProSupport in with the cost of the array…we don’t do that, we give you ProSupport choices and break it out through our EqualLogic Pricing model. Give me a call or email…I’ll explain it all that ProSupport stuff to you from what’s in it, the differences, etc. All of it.

And, oh, there’s another reason why you need ProSupport. Dell requires it. Yup, that’s right…

 Posted by at 12:11 pm
Jul 012009
 

It was only a couple of months ago when the Dell EqualLogic PS6000 replaced the PS5000 as the new EqualLogic flagship. We were excited to see Dell moving upstream with a faster controller and more connection speed, but we felt something was missing. Many potential customers wanted to get on board the EqualLogic train but could not afford it.

Until now.

Dell just announced the release of the PS4000 which fits nicely in the Small-Medium sized business niche. Remaining true to EqualLogic’s tradition of waiting until a product was ready before announcing it, the PS4000 hit the ground running. Quite honestly, we got more than we could have hoped for.

The PS4000 comes with the same enterprise SAN features built directly into the firmware; the only difference is a revved up controller on the PS6000 and a higher number of supported attributes. I thought a side-by-side comparison might help those that are familiar with the PS Series (either the original PS100 et al or the PS5000).

PS4000 PS6000 (PS5000)
equallogic_ps4000e_back equallogic_ps6000e_back
GbE Connections 2 Per Controller 4 Per Controller
Members Per Group 2 12
Volumes 256 1024
Snapshots/Replicas 2,048 10,000
Snapshots Per Volume 128 512
Volumes For Replication 32 192
Replicas Per Volume 128 512
Replication Partners 16 16
PRICING PRICING




Here’s an interesting point. Although you cannot have more than 2 PS4000s in a Group, if you add a single PS6000 to the group the limits disappear and there are no restrictions. Site to site replication implies 2 groups.

 Posted by at 3:59 pm  Tagged with:
Mar 242009
 

For all those IT professionals out there fed up with Technology Obsolescence, this post is for you. Having been in enterprise IT as both a provider and consumer, there is nothing more frustrating than being forced to get rid of perfectly good equipment because it is no longer supported or because something better is now available. Nowhere does this play out more often than data storage.

As mentioned in a previous post Frame vs. Frameless, there several well documented issues with traditional storage systems. We should have added Planned Obsolescence to the list of shortcomings of Frame based systems. As new drives technology marches forward the controllers that feed those drives fall further back until they will no longer work.

Now the good news. You don’t have to take it anymore! Stop replacing those disk drives!

EqualLogic is on the verge of releasing it’s newest array dubbed, quite modestly, the PS6000. With few details until the official launch later this month, all we can say for sure is this: The 2009 Model will work right out of the box with the 2002 Model (their first year). The shiny new PS6000 will boot up and melt right into an existing storage pool without even taking your servers down.

The Peer Storage Operating System “glues” the arrays together virtually under a single Group IP address. You no longer have to burn up your spring-time weekends by coming to work to stand-up a new array, create LUNs, migrate data and then stay on call to make sure you didn’t forget something. Older equipment that formerly was decommissioned to the EZ-Shredder can continue to add extra spindles, and speed, to the data set.

Isn’t virtual fun…and earth friendly!

 Posted by at 11:04 am  Tagged with:
Jul 072008
 

Have you heard of the Frame vs. Frame-less SAN debate? In the 10 years that I’ve been designing and implementing Storage Area Networks (SANs), I never considered an alternative to the traditional frame architecture, until I discovered EqualLogic – a frame-less SAN architecture. First, some legacy SAN background.

joeframed

Frame based SANs

Most of us are familiar with frame based SANs that are assembled much like lego sets starting with an empty “frame” (the physical manifestation may be a rack). These are the well known products from companies like EMC, Hitachi (HDS), Network Appliance (NetApp) et al. To build out a “frame based” SAN we first need to assemble the components as follows:

  • Head unit (1 or 2) 
  • 1 or 2 storage processors (SPs)
  • Cache
  • Network connections
  • OS software
  • Add-on software
  • Disks – varying capacities and performance characteristics

Frame Issue 1 – Over Provisioning
Since Frame-based SANs contain individual components that scale independently (you can add more cache, Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:40 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 222008
 

Have you ever tried to decipher a SAN pricing proposal from one of the “big” guys? There are more part numbers than I would expect when building the space shuttle. It is not enough to have the basic hardware broken down into dozens of pieces but then you have to select a dizzying array of software licensing options for both the array and any hosts using array features.

Here’s a sample SKU list from a major NAS/SAN vendor for a simple storage array:

FAS3050HA-IB-BASE-1 GF-RAS53050HA,IB,1B CF,OS,R5         2
X70015A-ESH2-R5-C   DS14MK2 SHLF, ACPS,14x144GB,15K,HDD  5
X6524-R6-C          CBL, 2M, Optical, Pair, LC/C,-C,R6   2
X6530-R6-C          CBL,0.5M,PATCH,FC SFPTO SFP-C,R6     6
X1941A-R6-C         CBL,5M,CLUSTER4X,CU-C,R6             2
X871A-R6-C          20A Storace Equipment Cabinet,-C,R6  1
X875A-R6-C 20A      PWR CORD (4),CABINET, NEMA-S,R6      1
X800-42U-R6-C       Cabinet Component Power Cable, R6    14
X5517-R6-C          Storage cabinet, Rail Set,42U,-C,R6  1
X6529-R6-C          SFP, Optical, Pair, LC/LC, -6, R6    4
X8773-R6-C          Multiple Product Tie-Down Bracket,-  2
DOC-3XXX-C          Documents, 3XXX,-C                   1
Software (Base Unit)
SW-T4C-CIFS-C CIFS   CIFS Software, T4C-C                2
SW-T4C-ISCSI-C iSCSI iSCSI Software, T4C-C               2
SW-T4C-NFS-C NFS    NFS Software, T4C-C                  2
SW-T4C-SRESTORE-C   SnapRestore Software,T4C,-C          2
SW-T4C-SME-C        SnapManager Software, Exchange, T4C  2
SW-T4C-SMSVS-C      SnapMirro-SnapVault Software Bndl,   2
Software (Host Side)
SW-SDR-WIN          SnapDrive, Windows                   10
SW-SSP-SDR-WINDOW   SW Subs SnapDrive for Windows 3.0    10
SW-SMBR-1000PK      Single Mbox Recovery, 1000pk         1
SW-SSPVN-SMBR-1000PKendor SW Sub SMBR, 1000pk            1
SW-SDR-SOL-TIER1    SnapDrive, Solaris, Tier 1           10
                    1-2CPU
SW-SSP-SDR-SOL-TIER1SW Subs, SDR Solaris Support, Tier   10
SW-SDU-CPU          SW, SnapDrive UNIX, CPU              5
SW-SMO-CPU          SW, SnapManager Oracle, CPU          5
SW-SSP-SMO-CPU      SW, SUB, SnapManager Oracle          5
Services and Support
CS-S-INST           Initial Installation-DS14            1
CS-A                SupportEdge Standard-FAS270 Mths: 3  2

Wow. All we wanted was a simple array to store some data. Instead, we got a dissertation on what the sales Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:08 pm  Tagged with: