Dell Updates EqualLogic Storage Line, Targets Linux And Acquires AppAssure

As part of this week's data center announcements, Dell is unveiling the next generation of its midmarket EqualLogic PS Series storage arrays, featuring 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) networking bandwidth, with increased storage capacity in a smaller footprint. The company says customers can improve performance for applications and workloads by 69% compared to previous-generation 10GbE EqualLogic arrays. In addition to two new models, Dell is also enhancing its software, and announcing the acquisiti

February 28, 2012

5 Min Read
Network Computing logo

As part of this week's data center announcements, Dell is unveiling the next generation of its midmarket EqualLogic PS Series storage arrays, featuring 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) networking bandwidth, with increased storage capacity in a smaller footprint. The company says customers can improve performance for applications and workloads by 69% compared to previous-generation 10GbE EqualLogic arrays. In addition to two new models, Dell is also enhancing its software, and announcing the acquisition of AppAssure, a developer of application protection.

With up to 72 Tbytes in a single array and 1.2 petabytes in a single group, the PS6110 Series is configured with both optical (SFP+) and copper (10GBASE-T) 10-GbE networking. The PS4110 Series, Dell's first 10-GbE EqualLogic entry-point arrays, provides the same benefits and features as the PS6110, supporting up to 36 Tbytes in a single array and 72 Tbytes in a single group.

The EqualLogic software now features new versions of Host Integration Tools for Microsoft and Linux without additional costs or software licensing fees, and includes automated tiering and enhanced load balancing capabilities, key components of the Dell Fluid Data architecture. The updated release of Host Integration Tools for Microsoft is available now, while the Linux version will be available later this quarter.

In addition to delivering more performance in a smaller package, the new storage arrays and software upgrades allow the company broader access to the Linux market, one of its newer targeted audiences and a whole new market, says Travis Vigil, executive director, Dell EqualLogic. The Microsoft tools is another company first, with support for CSV Application Consistent SnapShot. "We are the first system vendor to build infrastructure to snapshot the entire Microsoft cluster," says Vigil. "It's a huge win for us because it helps our presence in the HyperV market."

Although he only had a week to play with the PS6110, Tjebe de Winter, CTO and cofounder of Cyso Hosting, was very impressed. The company, based in the Netherlands, is a B2B managed hosting provider that maintains, backs up and restores data for customers, creating custom-made solutions and delivering private cloud services. The company uses EqualLogic systems with a 10-GbE backend, Dell blade servers and VMware to build custom solutions for its customers. "It works really well," de Winter says. "You can see that EqualLogic is learning from the I/O techniques from the Compellent acquisition."

One of the key benefits for Cyso is not the lower latency, which de Winter says is nice, but the ability to deal with micro-burst issues. "It's more important for us because you don't want to have too many depth spikes from the average."

Analyst Randy Kerns, of the Evaluator Group, thinks the most significant aspect of Dell's storage announcements is the signal that 10 GbE is moving down market. "These products are based on their new architecture platforms. They have added 10 GbE to the 6100 series where they only had 10 Gig on the previous-generation hardware [6000]. The 10 Gig for the 4100 is significant in that it brings 10 Gig to a less-expensive system that is targeted down market."

The software enhancements simplify the installation and usage of more sophisticated pathing capabilities from storage systems, he says. "The customers that can use these products typically don't have the storage experts to optimize the usage. Now they can accomplish it with the integration software."

Last month, Carter George, executive director of storage strategy at Dell, told Network Computing that the company is committed to becoming the third largest storage vendor within three years. Dell has morphed from being largely an EMC reseller to the point where more than 80% of its storage revenues come from intellectual property it owns and creates.

At the heart of its storage aspirations are its Fluid Data strategy, he says. The first step is to build a portfolio that brings high-end features/functions down to a price point midmarket customers can afford but that is also easy enough to use. "As you are able to do this, you are able to move upmarket to solve enterprise problems," says George.

Another way of cracking the enterprise market is through expanding the Copilot program acquired with Compellent, says George. "Copilot goes beyond break/fix. With Copilot you get assigned one or two human beings who are your copilots; their job is to make you happy, and that's the only thing they're measured on."

Customer enthusiasm is off the charts, he says. "The Compellent numbers were so high, we thought they were a math error, but we studied it and they turned out correct because of Copilot. So we're investing and going to roll that out for every product in storage." EqualLogic will be the first product to be added, and Dell is investing, scaling up the Copilot organization, extending globally and building the infrastructure for an automated data collection engine for the different products.

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Reston, Va., AppAssure delivers the industry's fastest backup and recovery of virtual servers, including VMware, Hyper-V and XenServer, as well as physical servers, states Dell. AppAssure will enable customers to seamlessly move and replicate data across its existing platforms, from an EqualLogic array in a remote office to a Compellent array at a data recovery site.

Unlike traditional solutions, AppAssure is application-aware, with built-in intelligence both about the data and the application, blogged Darren Thomas, VP/GM, Dell Storage. It is integrated with storage solutions like snapshots that can quickly capture changed data as frequently as virtual environments need, dedupe and compress this incremental snapshot, and recover it quickly for any slice of time. Using its very simple, single management pane of glass, customers can verify the reliability of the recovery and back up to any physical or virtual machine from any platform, providing customers the Fluid Data promise of the right data in the right place at the right time for the right cost.

Thomas says existing customers will see an immediate benefit on day one--for example, by being able to back up an EqualLogic array to a Compellent solution and recover it from anywhere. Initially, it will be a software-only solution, and then over time Dell will offer additional data protection solutions tightly integrated in its Fluid Data architecture. Customers will be able to manage data end-to-end, not in silos of servers and storage, or islands of sites.

Learn more about Research: State of Storage 2012 by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports (free, registration required).

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like


More Insights