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.

Oct 252013
 

Yup, that time has come again to take part of Dell World 2013. And of course no Dell World would be complete without some discussion on storage, including EqualLogic. The event will be taking place in Austin, TX from Dec. 11th to 13th, so register now.

If you’re like me, you’re more interested in what storage breakouts and discussions will be taking place at the event. Luckily, I’ve spec’d that out for you already, so here’s what will be discussed by way of storage (taken directly from their agenda):

MT3: Cloud client computing infrastructure: The first virtual desktop infrastructure aligned to your software strategy

Learn from the experts the breadth and depth of Dell’s leading server, storage and networking solutions for desktop virtualization. From reference architectures, appliances and components to complete racked-and-stacked converged infrastructure, Dell’s solutions are aligned specifically with virtual desktop software from Citrix, Microsoft, VMware and Dell to reduce risk, streamline implementation and ensure faster time to value.

MT15: Automate and simplify your IT management operations

Dell OpenManage leverages the industry’s only agent-free embedded server management tool, iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller, to enable automated IT management operations in both physical and virtual environments, across enterprise servers, storage and networking. And it delivers those same capabilities in popular third-party management frameworks so you experience the same simplicity of management on both Dell platforms and your existing infrastructure investments.

HOL8: Efficient enterprise deployments with SupportAssist proactive support

Learn how to configure and deploy an infrastructure fast while enabling the performance you require. Learn from the experts using a mix of Dell hardware, such as PowerEdge servers, EqualLogic arrays, Force10 switches, and VMware software. Plus, see a live demonstration of Dell’s automated proactive support capability, SupportAssist.

Special Note: HOL stands for Hands-On Lab. MT stands for a Session (don’t ask me what the acronym stands for…heck if I know…).

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.”

Oct 042013
 

The Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN has always had a very strong relationship with all of the major technology partners in the industry, including Microsoft. It’s no wonder that the Dell EqualLogic SAN continues to build off of and enhance Microsoft environments. Today let’s take a look at what the EqualLogic SAN can do for Microsoft in regard to leveraging it using the EqualLogic Auto-Snapshot Manager / Microsoft Edition (aka EqualLogic ASM/ME).

Let’s face it: Every organization has varying levels of standards they need to meet, and some organizations even have SLAs in place – service level agreements. If you have Microsoft – and chances are you do – you want to make sure the iSCSI storage solution you have in place can easily and quickly protect and backup your Microsoft SQL, Exchange, and Hyper-V applications in a spur of the moment. According to Dell’s website, using the EqualLogic Auto-Snapshot Manager (Microsoft edition) can provide:

  • “Streamlined operations through a simple, intuitive wizard that can run on a physical server or virtual machine
  • Accelerated deployment via full integration with Microsoft VSS, Hyper-V integration services, MCSC, CVS and Live Migration
  • Streamlined backup and rapid restoration of Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines, Microsoft SQL and Exchange server applications
  • Reduced server overhead and enhanced performance using SAN-based snapshots
  • Simpler operations with easy-to-use, built-in snapshot scheduler that provides ongoing protection while minimizing required disk space
  • All-inclusive software features with Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SANs — no additional software license required to implement Auto-Snapshot Manager/Microsoft Edition”

The interoperability between Dell EqualLogic and Microsoft has been tested and certified, and it is also one of Dell’s Business Ready Configurations. The cost? No additional cost…it’s all part of the complete EqualLogic pricing model.

 

References:

Equallogic auto snapshot manager/microsoft edition | microsoft vss framework. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.dellstorage.com/data-protection/data-protection-and-recovery/microsoft-vss/asm-me.aspx

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.

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