Dell Bulks Up EqualLogic Arrays With All-Flash Storage Option, SAN-NAS And 64-Bit OS

Dell on Tuesday enhanced its Dell EqualLogic storage family with a new model that can be ordered as an all-flash or a hybrid flash and hard drive array, along with the line's first 64-bit operating system and improved unified SAN and NAS capabilities.

The six models in the new Dell EqualLogic PS6210 array family, along with the other enhancements, come after similar updates in October to the Dell Compellent FS8600.

Those enhancements, introduced on opening day of the Dell World conference in Austin, Texas, are aimed at helping customers adopt the latest technologies such as flash storage while keeping costs under control, said Bob Fine, director of product management for Dell storage.

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"From an EqualLogic standpoint, we've addressed both [performance and cost] in a significant way with all-flash storage solutions priced at a lower cost than disk storage, and by adding management tools to make administration easier and let customers manage a much bigger solution with equal or less management time," Fine said.

In the process, Dell has made it easier for solution providers to take on the EqualLogic storage line, said Patrick Mulvee, partner at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time partner with Dell's Compellent line.

Sidepath came to Dell when Dell in 2011 acquired Compellent, and is has since adopted the Dell PowerVault storage line as well but has done little EqualLogic storage, Mulvee said.

"Lots of startups are knocking on the doors of our customers to talk about flash storage," he said. "The additions to the EqualLogic line give customers a chance to work with a company like Dell, which they know is not going away. And it's definitely a chance for us to do more with EqualLogic."

The new Dell EqualLogic PS6210 family of storage arrays features a newly designed controller and a 24-drive-per-enclosure architecture, Fine said.

Compared to Dell's previous EqualLogic arrays, it has double the cache and four times the memory, and it now features DDR-3 memory vs. the older DDR-2 technology.

More importantly, Fine said, The Dell EqualLogic PS6210 was designed to take advantage of flash memory. In an all-flash configuration, he said, eight nodes with 24 SSDs each, all clustered together into a single peer group, can offer over 1 million IOPS of performance. Customers can also configure how much flash and disk storage they have based on their applications, he said.

NEXT: Pricing Flash Arrays At The Cost Of Disk Storage?

Dell's Fine said that the new Dell EqualLogic offering provides flash storage at the price of disk thanks to the use of new 800-GB SSDs from Milpitas, Calif.-based SanDisk.

"It's a mixed-use SLC drive, positioned between competitive read-intensive and write-intensive SSDs," he said.

A single EqualLogic PS6210 can be configured with up to 24 SSDs, giving it a performance of about 30,000 IOPS, Fine said.

"To get that with spinning disks, you would need 96 15,000-rpm drives on four nodes, which would take much more space and power while increasing latency," he said. "So for the first time, we can bring to customers a cost-per-IOP that is less than that of spinning disks."

Fine admitted that 30,000 IOPS per 24-bay shelf is not the highest-performing flash storage solution available, but said that Dell is very competitive against the all-flash array startups in the market.

"The proof is in the pudding," he said. "With a 30,000 IOPS architecture, the arrays will handle 90 percent of customers' existing applications. And the production volume of the newer competitors is very low."

Dell has over 60,000 EqualLogic and Compellent arrays already installed in the market and is generating 1,000 new customers every month, Fine said. "Customers know we're enterprise-ready, they know we offer the right support, and they know we also have all the software capabilities including replication, snapshots and integration with third-party applications."

Sidepath's Mulvee agreed with Fine that the new Dell EqualLogic PS6210 will hit about 90 percent of the performance storage market.

"And you know that Dell has amazing buying power and will pass cost savings on to customers," he said. "That's all bad news for the smaller flash storage vendors."

Also new from Dell this week is Array Software 7.0, the first 64-bit operating system for Dell EqualLogic.

Array Software 7.0 also allows policy-based access control, Fine said.

"Before, each storage volume needed to be individually configured for policies," he said. "That took a lot of time to do. Customers can now set one profile and assign it to whichever volume they want. It's very easy to configure. And if there are any changes, just make the change once and it is applied to all the volumes.

Dell also unveiled SAN Headquarters 3.0, a new management software that watches the metadata of transactions and automatically reports any potential issues.

Dell is also extending its Fluid File System version 3, or FluidFS v3, which provides high-performance, scalable file (NAS) capabilities, to the Dell EqualLogic line, Fine said.

FluidFS v3 gives Dell EqualLogic a unified SAN-NAS capability along with advanced deduplication capabilities featuring variable block size and policy-based control, he said.