Dell overhauls iSCSI SANs, adds SSDs

By Kevin Komiega

-- Dell is transitioning to a new series of EqualLogic iSCSI SANs with faster processors, more cache, additional Ethernet ports, and support for solid-state disk (SSD) drives.

The company today announced the availability of the Dell EqualLogic PS6000 series storage arrays, which is comprised of five models – the PS6000E, PS6500E, PS6000X, PS6000XV and PS6000S.

From a hardware perspective, Dell's PS6000 family is up to 91% faster for sequential write workloads and up to 29% faster for sequential read workloads when compared with previous generation PS5000 series, according to Travis Vigil, a senior manager with Dell.

The speed boost is courtesy of a redesigned controller, faster processors, bigger cache and a fourth Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port for connectivity. Each of the PS6000 arrays can scale to 16TB of capacity.

Dell also added a solid-state variant to the EqualLogic family in the form of the PS6000S. The PS6000S arrays each have dedicated controllers for the SSD drives and can be combined to scale performance linearly.

The PS6000S system uses 50GB SSDs and is available in 400GB and 800GB dual- controller configurations.

Vigil says the SSD array is designed for low-latency, high-IOPS applications such as databases or virtual desktop environments.

In addition to the hardware refresh, Dell also unveiled an expanded management software suite in conjunction with the PS6000 launch.

The EqualLogic software, which is sold as an all-inclusive package, now features support for RAID 6, Microsoft Hyper-V Smart Copysnapshots, and enhanced integration with Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, VMware and Citrix XenCenter. The PS6000 arrays are VMware vStorage-ready, a technology that aims to make more efficient use of storage, networking and hypervisor resources by virtual machines.

Dell also introduced SAN Headquarters, a centralized dashboard that monitors performance and events for dozens of PS Series groups. SAN HeadQuarters is available to all Dell EqualLogic customers under a valid warranty or service agreement at no additional cost.

Pricing for the PS6000 arrays starts at $17,000. The starting price for the PS6000S with the SSDs is $25,000. The PS6000 series and associated services are available from Dell and its global PartnerDirect channel partners.  

Vigil says the debut of the PS6000 Series represents the first major hardware refresh for the PS product line since Dell acquired EqualLogic in late 2007 and, he says, Dell's iSCSI revenues continue to grow.

"We have seen over 100% growth in EqualLogic revenue since the acquisition closed in January of 2008.  In fact, IDC recently reported that the iSCSI market grew 61.6% compared to the prior year's quarter.  It's a real bright spot in IT spending," says Vigil.

According to IDC, Dell EqualLogic currently holds a 31% share of the iSCSI SAN market.

Alongside the PS6000 series debut, Dell officially announced availability of the NX4 – Dell's version of the EMC Celerra NX4 product. The NX4 offers file management for Windows, Linux and UNIX environments, as well as the flexibility to consolidate file and application storage via iSCSI or Fibre Channel.

Related articles:
Dell super-sizes iSCSI array for virtual servers
Dell's iSCSI array tuned for VMware
Dell extends EMC deal; Celerra added to lineup

This article was originally published on March 25, 2009