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Dell Upgrades EqualLogic Storage Arrays

Expands virtualization support for Compellent, PowerVault, EqualLogic arrays.

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As Dell steps away from its relationship with EMC to expand its own storage portfolio, the company refreshed its EqualLogic storage platforms on Monday and announced wide-ranging virtualization enhancements to its Compellent, EqualLogic, and PowerVault storage arrays.

The EqualLogic PS6100 and PS4100 families replace the PS4000E, PS4000X, PS4000XV, and PS6000E. Each array supports 2.5-inch 7,200-RPM serial ATA (SATA); 10,000-RPM and 15,000-RPM 6-Gbps serial attached storage (SAS); and 400-GB solid state drives (SSDs), making them capable of supporting as much as 50% more capacity than previous models. Each array also allows the intermixing of 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives in the same enclosure.

The PS4100 Series, aimed for use by small and midsized businesses, is an IP SAN (iSCSI) array that supports 36 TB in a 2U enclosure and 72 TB in a 4U enclosure. The PS6100 series, targeted at virtualized data centers, supports 72 TB in a 2U enclosure and 1.2 PB in a 4U enclosure.

In addition, enhancements to the firmware allow 60% faster performance than previous EqualLogic arrays. The firmware also provides dynamic load balancing and tiering among hard disk and SSD drives based on the latency requirements of applications.

The new firmware also supports data center bridging (DCB) for Fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE) converged networks. It is integrated now with Active Directory and VMware-aware.

Dell claims that 80% of its customers use VMware virtualization; with this firmware release, the company is paying attention to them. The firmware is qualified for use with VMware's vSphere 5.0 cloud software APIs and also lets EqualLogic arrays support VMware's vStorage APIs for array integration (VAAI), vStorage APIs for storage awareness (VASA), dynamic resource scheduling, and vCenter Storage Resource Manager v5.0.

Also in the VMware realm, Dell announced that the new arrays now support Dell EqualLogic host integration tools for Microsoft 4.0, which allow centralized data protection and management of multiple Microsoft hosts and virtual machines.

Further, the company also enhanced Dell EqualLogic SAN Headquarters 2.2 software, which now includes the ability to monitor EqualLogic storage systems that are distributed across multiple, geographically distributed sites.

With these storage upgrades, Dell is bolstering the storage portfolio it has deliberately pieced together with acquisitions of EqualLogic in 2007 and Compellent earlier this year. The company, who had an original equipment manufacturer agreement with EMC for its Clariion storage arrays, is expecting to double its current storage revenue to $4 to $5 billion.

The integrations with VMware don't stop with the EqualLogic arrays. Dell announced that its Compellent and PowerVault arrays are expected to support the Dell EqualLogic host integration tools for VMware 3.1, which provide visibility into storage and data-store management. The company also announced that its PowerVault storage arrays are integrated with VMware vSphere 5, which allows users to manage multiple PowerVault MD3200 and MD3600 arrays from the VMware vCenter Server using the vCenter plugin for Dell PowerVault MD.

Finally, Dell announced:

-- Dell Compellent Storage Replication Adapter for VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5 supports automated failback and new workflows for planned migrations and downtime;

-- Dell PowerVault MD storage arrays (iSCSI and Fibre Channel) also support VASA; and

-- PowerVault MD3600f/MD3620f series of storage arrays support VMware vCenter SRM 4.1 and 5 using the Dell PowerVault storage replication adapter.

The EqualLogic PS4100 and PS6100 arrays are available now starting at $9,500 and $30,700. The EqualLogic host integration tools for VMware 3.1, Compellent storage replication adapters for VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5, and Dell PowerVault integration with vSphere 5 are expected to be available in the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year.

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.

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