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.

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.

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.

Sep 052012

A number of new developments from the EqualLogic team were announced at Dell Storage Forum Boston. In addition to the EqualLogic PS-M4110 Blade Array, a number of software updates were announced, including:

EqualLogic Array Software v6.0
SAN Headquarters 2.5
Host Integration Tools for Microsoft 4.5

These updates are available on the EqualLogic Support website at no cost for customers with a valid support contract.

EqualLogic Array Software v6.0

EqualLogic™ Array Software can bring users advanced SAN functionality that automatically virtualizes and optimizes storage resources. Release 6.0 offers features you have come to know and rely on, along with:

Real-time data protection with synchronous replication
Increased efficiency with snapshot borrowing, volume unmapping (also known as re-thinning), and volume undelete
Improved data security, incorporating full-encrypting SED drives and IPSEC

And as always, Array Software 6.0 will run on your legacy EqualLogic systems that are under agreement valid support contract, allowing you to bring these advanced enterprise-class SAN features into your existing environment without additional licensing costs. EqualLogic is multi-generational, so as storage and business requirements grow, your existing SAN resources receive continuous advancements and capabilities.

SAN Headquarters 2.5

SAN Headquarters is a full-featured monitoring and analysis tool for EqualLogic storage arrays that enables you to analyze and optimize storage performance and resource allocation. With SAN Headquarters 2.5, available Fall 2012, there will be support for the new EqualLogic Array Software 6.0 features and automatic diagnostic data collection and transmission to Dell Support—designed to expedite resolution of issues and to lay the groundwork for Dell Integrated Support.

Host Integration Tools for Microsoft 4.5
EqualLogic Host Integration Tools are designed to simplify management and operation of the EqualLogic SAN through tight integration with Microsoft, VMware and Linux operating platforms and applications.
Host integration tools for Microsoft tightly integrate EqualLogic arrays with your Microsoft operating system and applications to enable consistent data protection, optimized performance, and streamlined management and operation.

Available this fall, HIT/Microsoft 4.5 will include:

Auto-Snapshot Manager/Microsoft Edition (ASM/ME) for Microsoft SharePoint Server (MOSS)
Single Sign-on for PowerShell
Support for Microsoft platforms and applications, including SQL Server 2012
Support for EqualLogic Array Software v6.0 features including: Volume Unmapping, Volume Undelete, and Snapshot Borrowing

For more information on Host Integration Tools, SAN Headquarters, and EqualLogic Array Software, visit

 Posted by at 10:43 am
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
Jun 142011

Dell announces the release of EqualLogic™ PS Series Firmware version V5.0.7.

This firmware version has important fixes implemented to enhance the stability and performance of EqualLogic arrays. Details of the fixes can be found in the release notes and fix list.

For Customers with Pre-Dell EqualLogic Models PS50E – PS2400E, the Dell PS5000E series and for Customers with PS6010 and PS6510 arrays:

Dell strongly recommends that customers upgrade to V5.0.7 at the earliest opportunity.

For Customers running any array not in the ranges listed above:

Dell encourages customers to upgrade to V5.0.7.

Download Instructions:

The firmware and all associated documentation can be obtained at under Downloads -> Firmware.

Once you have logged in and selected Downloads -> PS Series 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.

For Technical Support with the download or other issues, please contact: Dell EqualLogic Support (800) 945-3355 (Toll-Free in US and Canada) Click Here for International numbers.

 Posted by at 8:55 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 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:
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

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:
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