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Dell Intros Storage Hardware, Firmware Updates

The EqualLogic NAS, PowerVault storage arrays, and software update build upon Dell's fluid data architecture model for the data center.

Dell EqualLogic FS7500 NAS
(click image for larger view)
Dell EqualLogic FS7500 NAS
Dell announced Tuesday new data management products aimed at furthering the company's presence in the enterprise data center.

The Dell EqualLogic FS7500 network-attached storage (NAS), Dell PowerVault MD3600f/MD3620f storage arrays, and EqualLogic software are all part of Dell's ongoing push to provide comprehensive data storage solutions.

"They're promoting very strongly the fact that Dell is no longer a reseller of storage, but they really have made significant adjustments in developing their own intellectual property in the storage market," said Roger Cox, research VP at Gartner, in an interview at the Dell Storage Forum where the new products were announced. "Storage is part of what they're trying to do as they integrate products in storage and networking management solutions to make them more competitive in the data center market."

Dell has been busy integrating its acquisitions over the last few years into storage solutions and the recent announcements reflect it. Dell acquired EqualLogic in 2007 for $1.4 billion to increase its market share in the growing Internet storage market.

The new EqualLogic FS7500 is a scalable NAS system that supports load balancing and multi-threading for fast I/O processing. The system is able to scale up to 510 TB in a single share, has scale-out common Internet file system and network file system support, and provides online and performance scaling for both file and block interfaces.

"If you look at the overall industry, unstructured data growth and file data growth is very rapid and customers are looking for solutions to help them manage that growth," said Travis Vigil, executive director of product marketing for Dell enterprise storage, in an interview. "The FS7500 provides file capability for the EqualLogic product line focused on customers that are in dynamic, fast-growing environments and focused on ease of use."

Dell is also upgrading its EqualLogic software to version 5.1, which has enhanced load balancing that automatically identifies and shifts storage arrays to balance data loads within an EqualLogic environment. It also has integration with VMware environments and support for iSCSI networking through data center bridging.

"It's a significant increase in performance, since the exact same hardware infrastructure--if they upgrade ... firmware to 5.1--we've seen in the lab [giving] up to three-times increase in performance," Vigil said.

The new Dell PowerVault MD3600f and 3620f storage arrays have up to 8-Gb Fibre Channel ports, up to 96 additional hard drives and can mix solid-state drives, serial-attached SCSI (SAS), nearline SAS, and self-encrypting drives.

The EqualLogic FS7500 will be shipping and the EqualLogic firmware release 5.1 will be available for download from the EqualLogic support site in the third quarter of 2011. Dell PowerVault MD3600f and MD3620f arrays will be available June 14.

Dell will continue to build upon a more unified data center architecture that seamlessly integrates its products into the data center. This past February, Dell acquired Compellent, which gave the company a multiprotocol tiered storage area network product line to compete against HP, EMC, IBM, and others. In the months ahead Dell will continue to update its Compellent line with new automated tiering architecture and data deduplication, Vigil said.

"We have this vision that we refer to as the fluid data architecture," Vigil said. "That is really a vision where you can start tiering and moving data from different products based on difference use cases and the importance of data in a given customer environment."

As the volume of corporate data continues to grow, IT pros keep investing in new storage usage technologies. Compression still ranks No. 1, according to InformationWeek Analytics' 2010 Data Deduplication Survey, though respondents rely increasingly on dedupe, as well as thin provisioning and MAID. Download it here (registration required).

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