My last blog post on conferences, discussing the undercurrent of integration and stack building behind these conferences this year, brought out an almost immediate email from a user about EqualLogic, that I should probably elaborate on. Too many folks think of EqualLogic and the Dell server portfolio as distinctly separate, and miss the integration opportunities.
We recently went to an awesome EqualLogic end user conference in Dallas - a high caliber event for hands-on administrators from EQL's top 100 or so customers across the country. We presented the lunch keynote at that event on just this topic - the potential of sophisticated iSCSI storage solutions to unlock new integration opportunities within the consolidated virtual infrastructure.
iSCSI took a while to come into its full maturity, but as we look around today, capable iSCSI solutions (of which EQL may well be the leader in capabilities) are demonstrating that this IP carried storage protocol can overcome some of the obstacles among connecting storage to the virtual server infrastructure. If you think about this in a very abstract way, turning to IP as a carrier virtualized access to the backend storage, and made that access much more flexible than physically oriented FC. This gives EQL their unique storage pooling, and their performance and capacity scale-out storage capabilities. But it also gives them an ability to be interleaved anywhere in the data center, increasing the flexibility with which they are deployed and scaled over time, and these capabilities can together fundamentally alter the design and capabilities of the cloud-like data center - imagine a data center where you just add more nodes to the end of rows, irrespective of whether you need storage capacity, storage performance, or compute. In fact, I'd say that between Dell's physical server management, storage infrastructure and management, and how all of this connects with the virtual infrastructure, Dell has one of the easiest to access cloud-like foundations available today. Sure it may be distinctly different than a UCS-style infrastructure, but it delivers on the core requirements, in a package that includes more infrastructure layers (storage and compute), with a solution that is more accessible to many more customers.
As we spoke at this event, the virtual server capabilities of that infrastructure came to the surface. We have some interesting data points from a recent customer survey on storage challenges in the virtual server infrastructure. Those data points come from 360 users in mid-sized to large enterprises in North America. As we asked for a show of hands from EQL users suffering the same challenges around provisioning, management, performance, and more, we saw few EQL users raise their hands, and when we dug deeper, those hand raises came from their experience with other storage platforms. Interesting testament to how iSCSI may provide a superb storage foundation for the next generation data center. Moreover, I think there's only more to come - Dell's recent acquisition of ExaNet providing interesting food for thought.
posted by: Jeff Boles