Dell product blitz marries unified and scale-out storage

Darren Thomas Dell

Dell enterprise storage chief Darren Thomas

ORLANDO Dell has made a number of product announcements at its inaugural Dell Storage Forum, with the promise that customers and channel partners can expect a steady stream of announcements as the company attempts to leverage the intellectual property acquired from its various acquisitions, including EqualLogic, Ocarina, Exanet and Compellent.

These companies all brought best-of-breed technology to Dell, said Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager, Dell Storage. “Now the challenge for me and my team is to integrate them.”

First up is the EqualLogic FS7500, the first appearance of scale-out NAS and unified storage capabilities to the midrange platform, reportedly providing up to 10 times more file-share capability than legacy unified storage offerings.

It incorporates the Dell Scalable File System (DSFS), courtesy of Exanet, so that a single FS7500 file share can scale up to 510TB (raw capacity). It is scheduled to ship this summer.

This is a big deal, noted Terri McClure, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group., who was impressed by the Exanet product way back when and thought it had tremendous potential. “With Dell taking it to the enterprise and coming out with a unified system that is scale-out, has all the advanced snap and replication features, it will make for an interesting 2H 2011.”

Also scheduled for a Q3 release, the company upgraded its EqualLogic software, version 5.1, with enhancements for iSCSI networking via Data Center Bridging (DCB) support, improved performance (up to 3x) via automated load-balancing and enhanced integration with VMware environments. The enhanced thin provisioning awareness with VMware vSphere 4.1 is intended to reduce recovery time and help mitigate the risk of potential data loss.

For its high-end line, the company demonstrated compatibility between a Dell Compellent Storage Center SAN with a Brocade 6510 16Gb Fibre Channel switch and a Brocade 1860 16Gb Fabric Adapter. Product with 16Gbps Fibre Channel capabilities are scheduled to debut in the Fall.

Finally, for its entry-level storage platform, PowerVault, Dell unveiled the MD3600f and 3620f arrays. With a total of eight 8Gbps Fibre Channel ports (four per controller) customers can have up to four redundantly connected servers in the configuration without needing a switch or 64 servers when using a switch. Additional storage capacity can be added up to a maximum of 96 hard drives via the PowerVault MD1200 and/or MD1220 enclosures. Customers can also mix 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch enclosures behind their base units for drive tiering that best matches their application needs. Within each enclosure customers can mix SSD, SAS, near-line SAS, and self-encrypting drives. The arrays will be available June 14.