Dell Ups Channel Discounts And Capacity For EqualLogic Storage


Dell has upped the stakes in the low-cost, large-capacity storage market with new solution provider discounts on its EqualLogic array line and a new version of its EqualLogic array offering increased storage density and available services.

Dell in January closed its $1.4 billion acquisition of EqualLogic. For Dell, EqualLogic was an opportunity to grab one of the top vendors in the red-hot iSCSI market while laying the groundwork for a channel based on EqualLogic's channel-only sales model.

Dell in late August increased the solution provider hardware discounts on its PSE5000-series of storage arrays from its EqualLogic acquisition, giving partners a 15-percent off list price discount for non-registered deals. Registered Dell partners who register a customer deal can receive a 30-percent off list price discount, while certified Dell partners who register a deal can receive a 40-percent off list price discount, according to a Dell memo reviewed by Everything Channel.

At the same time, Dell eliminated the discount for its Complete Care and Complete Care Plus services when sold with a PSE5000-series array, with the increased discount on the hardware still enabling solution providers to enjoy a better margin than before, according to the memo.

Starting this week, Dell also added an extra 5 percent discount on sales of three to six arrays to a single customer, and an extra 10 percent discount on orders of seven or more arrays, according to the memo.

Dell on Wednesday unveiled the PS5500E, a new model of its EqualLogic product family which fits up to 48 hard drives into a 4U rack mount chassis, said John Joseph, vice president of marketing at Dell for EqualLogic.

With 500-Tbyte SATA hard drives, the PS5500E has a maximum raw capacity of 24 Tbytes. Capacity is up to 48 Tbytes if 1-Tbyte hard drives are used.

The PS5500E also includes a number of services such as thin provisioning, replication, virtualization, tiered storage, instant volume expansion, and volume cloning, Joseph said. "It's for customers looking for the absolute best price per Tbytes for their SANs, and who also need those services," he said.

Dell plans to add RAID-6 capability in January, Joseph said. RAID-6 allows more than one hard drive to fail without impacting customer data.

Also new with the EqualLogic arrays is a software update that lets the arrays work better with server virtualization technologies including VMware ESX and Citrix XenServer, Joseph said. Microsoft Hyper-V capability will be introduced in the near future.

With the new software, an agent is downloaded into a host server to work with Auto-Snapshot Manager/VMware Edition. The software integrates EqualLogic snapshots directly with VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) environments to improve the performance of online backups and restores of VMware virtual machines and VMFS file systems, Joseph said.

"This lets customers restore a folder or a virtual machine with only five or six steps in just a few minutes," he said.

Citrix, meanwhile, is providing direct integration of Citrix XenServer with EqualLogic SAN and volume management, including SAN-based snapshot and clone capabilities from the XenCenter Management Client.

Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland, Ohio-based solution provider which just recently signed up with Dell to sell the EqualLogic products, said it appears that Dell is going after companies like Nexsan with the large capacity of the PS5500E.

"The PS5500E is a threat to our Nexsan business," Knieriemen said. "Nexsan has been doing well for us with their data protection and their green MAID (massive array of independent disks) features. And Nexsan is very channel-friendly."

The upcoming addition of RAID-6 capability to the PS5500E is very important, and will be required for sales to do well, Knieriemen said.

"RAID rebuilds of Tbyte-sized hard drives is a long process," he said. "You're still pounding on the drive with RAID-5 during the rebuild, and if you lose another drive, the result is data loss."

The Dell EqualLogic PS5500E is available immediately through Dell's direct and channel sales organizations with a starting price of $78,000.