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Dell EMC Expands Unity, PowerMax Lines, Intros Cloud Storage Services

Dell EMC is making the cloud a more central part of its storage offerings with the introduction of Cloud Storage Services and is working with Intel to bring Optane dual-port enterprise server-class memory to its flagship PowerMax line.

 Dell EMC is expanding much of its storage portfolio with an eye toward helping channel partners better manage data in cloud and other fast-changing environments for their customers.

The company Tuesday unveiled major enhancements to its midrange Unity, flagship PowerMax and unstructured data Isilon lines. Dell EMC also introduced Cloud Storage Services.

The company also used its Dell Technologies World conference, being held this week in Las Vegas, to unveil a new line of data protection storage software and appliances.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Dell EMC Opens Up About New Midrange Storage Coming This Year]  

Sam Grocott, senior vice president of marketing for Dell EMC's Infrastructure Solutions Group, said during a pre-conference briefing that Unity XT was designed for performance and efficiency, as well as to help customers more quickly move to multi-cloud infrastructures.

"Compared to the midrange storage market, we feel we've really leapfrogged the competition," Grocott said.  

Unity XT also features a combination of software enhancements and the latest generation of Intel processors to double the performance of the previous generation, he said. It is slated to ship in the second quarter of 2019.

Unity XT is NVMe-ready, Grocott said. "Customers over time to will be able to seamlessly and non-disruptively add NVMe drives to their Unity XT system," he said.  

"NVMe-ready" means that in about a year after Unity XT is released customers will be able to do a non-disruptive software upgrade to take advantage of the high-performance NVMe protocol, said Caitlin Gordon, senior director of product marketing for Dell EMC storage.

Unity XT officially features a 5-to-1 data reduction capability, although many customers see more, Gordon told CRN.

Dell EMC does offer customers a 3-to-1 data reduction guarantee as long as the data in question does not contain large amounts of photographs or other files that are very difficult if not impossible to deduplicate or compress, Gordon said.

She said that in all the time Dell EMC has offered a data reduction guarantee, it has not had to do any remediation for not meeting its promise.  

The platform upgrade to the Unity family comes as no surprise, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and longtime Dell EMC channel partner.

"Coming out with a new controller is a constant in this industry," Tanenhaus told CRN. "Dell EMC has to keep modernizing the technology. So it's pressing the trigger. This is both an evolutionary and a revolutionary upgrade in an incremental sense. It shows Dell EMC is continuing to enhance the family."  

Dell EMC also introduced a new offering, Cloud Storage Services, for extending data center storage services to public clouds in conjunction with its Unity XT, PowerMax and Isilon lines, Grocott said.

"[These will] help our customers extend their data centers from on-premises into the cloud," he said. "Our Cloud Storage Services deliver the performance and resiliency of the Dell EMC storage that [customers] would expect on-prem, but now can leverage and take advantage of the agility of the public cloud's compute in an as-a-service model."  

Dell EMC will initially support two use cases with Cloud Storage Services, which Grocott said is now available in North America. The first is an automated Disaster Recovery as a Service supporting the Unity and the PowerMax platforms, and the second is multi-cloud access for use in bursting to the cloud for things like workload analytics and test/dev.

Dell EMC has been investing heavily in storage and data protection all with a focus on integrating with the cloud, said Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and longtime Dell EMC partner.  

"Cloud Storage Services is the natural evolution of Dell," he said. "They'll get it right."

Enhancements to Cloud Storage Services should be a turbocharge across all the Dell EMC storage lines, Clifford said. "Dell EMC wants to bring everything in an environment where they can communicate and share," he said.

Dell EMC also introduced several enhancements to its flagship PowerMax line in addition to its ability to work with Cloud Storage Services, Gordon said.  

The biggest is the introduction of a new storage-class memory technology for a big jump in performance, she said. That technology was jointly developed by Dell EMC and Intel and is based on Intel's Optane technology, she said.

"This will be the first scale-out storage platform to ship with Intel's dual-port, enterprise-class storage-class memory device," she said. "Intel has made its storage-class memory available for PCs and servers, but this is the first to be available inside a storage device like the PowerMax."  

Also new with PowerMax is a big expansion into automation with a new plug-in for VMware's vRealize Orchestrator, or vRO, to automate workflow, Gordon said. Support for Ansible playbooks will be added this summer.

This summer will also see compatibility with the new Container Storage Interface, or CSI, Gordon said. "This will make PowerMax the only platform to support everything from mainframes to containers," she said.

Mavenspire’s Tanenhaus said that while PowerMax already had the performance of NVMe drives, NVMe is only a protocol like SAS and SCSI and as such has become the next storage performance bottleneck, making new technology like the Intel Optane server-class memory so important.  

"The next bottleneck in storage is the cache memory," he said. "The dual-ported Intel Optane removes that bottleneck. Server memory used as cache can maintain super-fast performance on a consistent basis. The bottleneck keeps moving. You have to follow the bottleneck and crush it."

The new PowerMax's automation capabilities are also important in the software-defined world, Tanenhaus said. "Big data and AI workloads need the automation to push the envelope on what the system has access to."

Also introduced at Dell Technologies World is the Isilon OneFS version 8.2 software and hardware to provide customers with the scalability and performance needed to manage the massive deluge of unstructured data they are continuing to see, Grocott said.

"This new version of Isilon software and hardware really focuses on delivering this next level of scale and performance for some of the fastest-growing workloads," he said. "We typically see AI workloads or autonomous driving or [other next-generation] applications really, really pushing the bar in terms of scale and performance."  

The new version of Isilon OneFS will support an increase of 75 percent in terms of capacity to up to 58 petabytes of capacity in a single file system and a single volume, bringing ease of use at scale to higher-volume use cases, Grocott said.

"We're also expanding the multi-cloud support with the Cloud Pool technology that allows us to move data into the cloud," he said. "We are now supporting Alibaba as well as the Google public cloud. We're continuing to enhance the multi-cloud capabilities of the Isilon system."  

Gordon said the new Isilon OneFS technology is being given native Google Cloud Platform support for file services, with early access scheduled to be available this summer.

By year-end, Isilon will also support Dell EMC's CloudIQ cloud-native mobile application to provide infrastructure insight and analytics, Gordan said. "It supports the full Dell EMC storage line," she said.

Dell EMC also introduced a new entry-level node for the Isilon, The H5600 is a 4U chassis that can fit up to four nodes starting at 200 TB each using 10-TB SATA hard drives.

The new Isilon OneFS 8.2 appliances and software are slated to ship in the second quarter of 2019.  

Dell EMC also beefed up its data protection capabilities with its new PowerProtect software and appliances.

The new PowerProtect software, which Grocott called a next-generation data management platform, was designed from the start as a software-defined offering that supports self-service SaaS environments.  

"It has multi-cloud connections," he said. "It has best-in-class VMware integration. We're really, really focused on simplifying protecting your applications as they're living within a VMware environment."

The PowerProtect software has native integration with VMware, Oracle and other applications, Grocott said. "It provides a centralized governance and oversight capability while enabling long-term retention to the public cloud."

It is joined by the PowerProtect X400, which comes integrated with the PowerProtect software. The newest member of the Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) family, the PowerProtect X400 scales up and out, and can be configured as a hybrid disk or an all-flash appliance.

"The new X400 radically simplifies deployment, scale and efficiency for the most demanding data management workloads," he said.

The company also introduced a new entry-level version of its IDPA 4400 that can be configured as small as 8 TB, compared with the existing model, which starts at 24 TB, Grocott said. It is targeted at remote office and branch office environments, he said.

The smaller configuration of the IDPA 4400 is important for helping smaller customers take advantage of the technology, Tanenhaus said.

"It's a smaller appliance, one we've been waiting for for a while," he said. "Some of our smaller customers have to choose between Data Domain and IDPA for data protection. But the entry-level Data Domain appliance starts at 32 TB of physical capacity, and the entry-level IDPA appliance was even higher. With the new version starting at 8 TB, it will be easier for customers to choose the right experience they want.”

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