Dec 282011
 

With the new release of PS Firmware Revision 5.1, Dell introduced more advanced data management options. At the core are 3 load balancing layers that ensure high-performance while balancing capacity value. This post describes the 3 layers and how they can be applied.

EqualLogic Load Balancers in PS Series Pools

When you initialize the first array and create a PS series group, a default pool is automatically established. After adding an array to the group, it is referred to as a member of the group. All members are initially placed into the default pool, and administrators subsequently deploy volumes from this pool. It is within a pool that resources such as network bandwidth, disk capacity, and I/O are balanced automatically. Multiple pools can be created to isolate volumes and separate members. This may be done for a variety of reasons, including technical (e.g. placing specific application data on resources such as SSD) or business reasons (e.g. ensuring that legal department data is isolated from the data from other departments.) With more than one pool administrators can initiate moving volumes or members between the pools seamlessly, with no downtime to the applications. Within a pool, Dell’s EqualLogic PS Series is designed to automate the placement of data to maximize the utilization of the resources that the customer has chosen for their SAN.

There are three load balancers that operate within a pool:

  • The NLB (Network Load Balancer) manages the assignment of individual iSCSI connections to Ethernet ports on the pool members
  • The CLB (Capacity Load Balancer) manages the utilization of the disk capacity in the pool
  • The APLB (Automatic Performance Load Balancer) manages the distribution of high I/O data within the pool.

How the Network Load Balancer (NLB) Works

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:34 am
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
Mar 172011
 

So. You’re about to buy that EqualLogic SAN you’ve been dreaming about…probably through us, so that makes it even better. Remember, the one you saw on our Self-Service EqualLogic Pricing…?

Now, you’re faced with a tough question: Do I put my new EqualLogic iSCSI SAN on a separate VLAN or subnet or do I put it on its own network…? Hmmm…good question, so let’s take a look at some conditions that might drive you decision.

First, let’s take a look at your applications. Are the applications going onto your new EqualLogic SAN considered mission-critical? Is there already enough traffic on the network where adding iSCSI traffic might pose an unneeded demand? Are the data network switches on your network pretty old or not wire speed?

This might be a good indication that you should probably buy a switch that will be dedicated to your new EqualLogic SAN. There’s a few things you need to make sure your new network switch has if you’re going to maximize your EqualLogic SAN investment:

  • Must have Flow Control
  • Must support Jumbo Frames
  • Must be standards-based
  • Should be “iSCSI optimized”
  • Should have prioritization (802.1q/p) and / or as many priority queues as you need

If you’re looking for a good-quality switch, then I’d recommend the Dell PowerConnect…they come in different flavors – both Gigabit and 10GigE, and they normally start at about $1,000. You can find them through EqualLogic pricing in our Self-Service EqualLogic Pricing website…just go to EqualLogic Miscellaneous section and you’ll see a few options.

Or, if you don’t have the money, you can always try to use your own existing data network switches. Heck, as long as they have all of the above features you should be good to go. But, hey, why not just buy a Dell PowerConnect along with that EqualLogic SAN…? The main reason: The colors will match and your iSCSI SAN will both shine with that Dell logo. Heck, that in and of itself should be reason enough…plus you’ll look cool buying that pure Dell solution. You know you want to…

 Posted by at 11:06 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
Jan 152011
 

Okay, so you tell me you need an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN SAS array. But do you really need a SAS array…? I mean, do you reeeeeeeally need a SAS array…? Let’s look at the facts and see if what you have and what you need match up…fair…?

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard that SAS is fast, right? Oh, yeah. In fact, EqualLogic SAS units are extremely fast and have been known (and documented) to even outperform their fibre channel counterparts. Take that, fibre channel!!!

The SAS EqualLogic iSCSI SAN units can come in 10K or 15K RPM drive speeds within the EqualLogic PS4000X, PS4000XV, PS6000X, PS6000XV, PS6010X and PS6010XV models. For the EqualLogic PS6500X and PS6510X models, only 10K RPM drive speeds are available…for now.

So, let’s take a look at what you have. Hmmm…you have some file data and maybe some Exchange and SQL. Yes, database applications are usually pretty demanding and may merit faster drive speeds…SAS would definitely do the trick…

However…

Have you done a perfmon yet…? What’s a perfmon you might ask…? It stands for Performance Monitor (perfmon), and it’s a tool that helps you assess the (storage) traffic on your network. It’ll show you how many IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) your network is pushing through, where your peak traffic times are and all that good stuff. Federal Appliance happens to coordinate these for free for our clients in an attempt to more accurately assess which EqualLogic iSCSI SAN you might need…whether it’s a SAS or a SATA.

Rule of thumb?

If your IOPS are more than 600 or so, you might want to consider a SAS unit. If it’s under this, you might be better off staying with a SATA unit. Why pay for more horsepower than your network really needs…? SAS does cost more…about 20% to 40%, on average, but if you don’t need it don’t buy it. I have plenty of clients running multiple database applications in their environment across an EqualLogic SATA unit…and it’s more than enough for them. Every client is different.

But there are other circumstances that might drive the need for an EqualLogic SAS unit over a SATA one…such as file size, imaging requirements, disaster recovery, replication needs, additional database applications, SAP implementations, ERP implementations, Oracle, DB2, clustering, future growth, and so on.

Still not sure with EqualLogic SAN is right for you…? Neither am I…heck, that’s why we need to talk. Now. Until we discuss your requirements and assess your traffic with a perfmon or some other network tool, we really won’t know for sure. But knowing what you need will help you build a business case for that EqualLogic SAN you’ve always wanted. You know, that nice new EqualLogic PS6000XV-9.6TB array that those financial tightwads in upper management declined last year…? Well, now you’ve got ammo…so go ahead, buy that PS6000XV-9.6TB…we’ve got your back…

Jan 062011
 

One of the first questions I get from clients who look into the Dell EqualLogic PS6000 series is “Why is it so expensive…?” (get a self-service EqualLogic price quote here if you want to compare yourself).

This question is normally posed shortly after they strive to recover from a five-minute bout of sticker shock as I aid them in readjusting their jaw (which has fallen to the floor by this time…). But this question is a valid one…I mean, you can get the same capacity in the EqualLogic PS4000 for about 30% less cha-ching…so what’s the difference…?

First, I tell my clients to look at their company’s needs and answer a few questions:

  • How much growth are you experiencing year-by-year?
  • How much data do you acquire year-by-year?
  • What (database) applications are you running?
  • Are you looking to do Disaster Recovery or deploy an iSCSI SAN in multiple locations?
  • How many Gigabit Ethernet ports do you really need from your EqualLogic SAN?
  • What are you looking to accomplish long-term with your iSCSI SAN?

Here’s the bottomline…and maybe even a rule of thumb: 1) If your organization is not going to be growing and / or adding tons of data over the next 3 to 5 years, 2) don’t need anymore than two (2) Gigabit Ethernet ports for management into your EqualLogic iSCSI SAN, 3) don’t foresee pooling anymore than two physical EqualLogic arrays into one logical SAN for each location, then I’d say go for an EqualLogic PS4000E (or PS4000X or PS4000XV, depending on your applications and IOPS).

The EqualLogic PS4000 series is going to have about 30% to 40% less horsepower than the EqualLogic PS6000 series will produce, so if you can settle for that and tuck away the pride (cough, cough…), the EqualLogic PS4000 series will not only be more cost effective but will probably meet your requirements as well. Plus, it still has all the bells and whistles the big boy (PS6000 series) has.

If you have the slightest doubt about any of the above criteria, then don’t compromise your organization’s storage needs and consider the EqualLogic PS6000. Which do we recommend…? The PS6000 series, of course…it’s more money…I mean, it’s more flexible and more powerful and you don’t have to worry about any limitations. But, hey, it’s your budget and storage area network…figure out your needs and go from there…

Tony Gonzales
Sales & Technical Manager
4Storage
www.4Storage.com

Sep 092010
 

EqualLogic, with its all-inclusive enterprise-class iSCSI SANs virtualized storage arrays, enables IT administrators with the technology and tools to build out affordable and easily manageable business continuity and disaster recovery solutions. With built-in snapshot, replica, clone, and replication features, along with partnerships with industry leading technology partners, EqualLogic simplifies the planning, deployment, and maintenance of an IT infrastructure that ensures that your business is fully protected and always operational.

BC/DR has traditionally been necessary, but too complex and expensive

Disaster recovery beyond backup was not affordable for most organizations when Fibre Channel SANs were the only option. Complex configurations including communication network extension equipment, add-on software, and staff training has been prohibitively expensive. Recent compliance regulations (e.g., HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and SEC rules) have pressured organizations of all sizes to make more data quickly recoverable for longer periods of time; company files, databases, and e-mail must be restorable for years. And with the proliferation of 24X7 business operations, companies of all sizes are recognizing the requirement to have a complete business continuity and disaster recovery environment to ensure that their IT operations are completely protected against natural and unnatural disasters and outages.

With storage consolidated on EqualLogic PS Series arrays, business continuity and disaster recovery is now affordable, fast, and simple. EqualLogic iSCSI SANs leverage your existing IP based LAN and WAN networking assets and competencies without requiring any add-on software or costly staff training. The PS Series’ Auto-Replication capability, standard in each array, provides point-in-time periodic replication to multiple remote sites. This method, easy to set up and operate, delivers multiple restore points and application-consistent copies that can be restored in minutes.

Check out our Online Dell EqualLogic Pricing to see how EqualLogic brings enterprise class data management services to small and medium sized businesses.

 Posted by at 9:59 pm  Tagged with:
Aug 262010
 

Ever wonder what all the suffixes on the Dell EqualLogic PS Series arrays mean? For existing customers that have been working with them forever (we’ve been providing EqualLogic solutions for over 5 years now) the migration from the original “E” model made sense. The latest “XVS” spawned this blog post…this is getting a bit confusing!

Here are the prefix summaries for those that are just getting familiar with the units:

“E” – SATA drives running at 7200 RPM
“X” – 10,000 RPM Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) drives (various capacities exist)
“XV” – 15,000 RPM Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) drives (various capacities exist)
“S” – Solid-State Drives
“XVS” – SAS and Solid-State hybrid boxes

While most customers choose “E” arrays for more static, less critical data, don’t underestimate their performance. The striping and caching intelligence that is built into the units means you will get outstanding performance regardless of drive type.

 Posted by at 11:26 am  Tagged with:
Jul 272010
 

Dell has issued a firmware update alert for owners of the following EqualLogic units. Here is the letter directly from Dell.

Dear Valued Customer,

With the release of EqualLogic™ PS Series Firmware Release V4.3.6, a number of potentially serious issues have been resolved. Customers who are using any of the products listed below are strongly urged to upgrade to V4.3.6 or higher at their earliest opportunity:

· EqualLogic™ PS6000, PS6500 or PS400E arrays

· EqualLogic™ PS100 arrays with 750GB disks

· Windows 2008 Clustering Software

V4.3.6 contains a number of important fixes which affect all arrays, and Dell encourages all customers to apply this update. Please refer to the V4.3.6 Fix List for complete details.

Firmware V4.3.6 Download

Other Latest Releases

San HQ V2.0 Download

Hit Kit V3.3.2 Download

For all the latest software releases go to https://www.equallogic.com/support/download.aspx

DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS

The firmware and all associated documentation can be obtained at http://support.equallogic.com/, under Downloads->Firmware.

Once you have logged in, and selected Downloads->Firmware, select the hyperlink for the version of firmware that you wish to download.

Patches appear within the associated firmware page. Please be sure to download and review the Release Notes and instructions for updating storage array firmware, or applying patches as appropriate for your firmware version prior to attempting the firmware upgrade or patch.

Technical Support

Please Contact:
Dell EqualLogic Support

(800) 945-3355(Toll-Free in US and Canada) International Numbers

us-nh-cstech@dell.com

http://support.dell.com/equallogic/

 Posted by at 3:11 pm  Tagged with:
Jan 212010
 

Some time ago I created a quick powerpoint presentation on how to migrate from an existing standalone server environment with Direct Attach Storage (DAS) to a virtual environment with shared storage. The presentation has now been updated and gives a potential new EqualLogic customer a simple road map for migrating to a new, virtual environment.

Our approach assumes every machine and application that is currently in production is critical, and must remain online as the migration takes place.

This presentation/plan does not talk about features and functions of Dell EqualLogic storage. Those details are best left for specific conversations.

In all, the complete process only includes 4 steps, the fourth of which is optional.

Storage Consolidation Plan – Migrate to VMWare in 4 Steps (PDF)

Storage Consolidation Plan – Migrate to VMWare in 4 Steps (powerpoint)

Feed back is welcome!

 Posted by at 11:49 am  Tagged with: