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…

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 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 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 132013
 

As I mentioned in my previous EqualLogic blog(s), EqualLogic pricing has gone down over the years, allowing clients to take advantage of some great cost-per-TB solutions. But many clients have admitted that even with some very aggressive price drops, the low price still might not be enough to secure a much-needed EqualLogic SAN.

Dell’s recent product announcements (such as the Dell Enterprise Forum US) have recently revealed some very insightful and much anticipated news about solutions and financing that many clients have been waiting for for a long time. The focus of this particular blog posting will focus on the specials and incentives around the financing aspect of Dell solutions, particularly around the EqualLogic iSCSI SAN.

Through Dell Financial Services (DFS), Dell has announced two (2) leasing options: 1) 0% EqualLogic Lease Offer and 2) Power Up Lease Offer.

0% EqualLogic Lease Offer
Let’s take, for example, you decided to finance $25,000 worth of EqualLogic hardware, software (ProSupport), and installation for a 36-month Finance Lease (Ownership). Because of the 0% EqualLogic Lease option, you would see:

  • Average Monthly Payment: $694
  • Sum of Payments: $25,000
  • Impact to Annual Budget: $8,328
  • Opportunity Cost: $1,173 (what you might save on interest assuming a 3% over 36 months)

Power Up Lease Offer
Now, it gets even better…what if you wanted to take the same $25,000 EqualLogic amount and opt for a 36-month Fair Market Value Lease (Rotation). Let’s take a look at the breakdown here:

  • Average Monthly Payment: $663
  • Sum of Payments: $23,861
  • Impact to Annual Budget: $7,956
  • Opportunity Cost: $2,312 (what you might save on interest assuming a 3% over 36 months)

So, compare the above two options to a straight Net 30 Terms purchase via purchase order. Your initial cash outlay is $25,000…your sum of payments is $25,000, and your impact to your annual budget is $25,000. And did I mention the business tax advantages of leasing…? Well, talk to your accountant about that…we’re just here to share our Dell EqualLogic findings and EqualLogic pricing with you…

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/