Dell unveils enterprise storage, server offerings

Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions at Dell

Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions at Dell

Today at the Dell Enterprise Forum in Frankfurt, Dell is making several announcements in the enterprise storage and server space. These begin with Dell Fluid Cache for SAN, which the company has talked about previously, but which is now being formally announced. Also being announced are the Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.5 array software, the Dell OpenManage systems management portfolio, new Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools and new enterprise-class features for the PowerEdge VRTX shared infrastructure system.

“We publicly talked about the potential of FluidCache for SAN as we developed it, and now we are formally announcing it and talking about the specifics, including new details as well as availability and pricing,” said Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions at Dell.

“The Dell Fluid Cache for SAN is about addressing application performance,” Payne said. “It deals with two problems, the growing user base requiring the scalability of the back end storage layer to grow, and the need for quicker response time to increase productivity.”

Payne said that Flash technology addresses these problems, but does not deal with the latency of interconnect between the server and back end storage.

“FluidCache for SAN does this by creating a caching layer at the server level to keep it close to the application,” he said.

The caching pool starts a minimum of three Dell PowerEdge servers with express Flash drives, the second generation of which came out earlier this year. It can scale up to eight servers to grow the pool, and the other servers don’t even have to be Dell servers.

“This is much better than a card-based Flash device where you have to take the server off line to replace it,” Payne said.  “The cache tier is highly available with the three servers – both read and write – and no single failure will cause a data loss.”

“Some customers use cache cards to reduce silos in data centers, but it’s not an integrated solution,” said Bob Fine, Director of Product Marketing, Dell Storage, “Fluid Cache for SAN is fully integrated with the SAN, and one management tool on the Compellent SAN lets them see their end-to-end storage environment.”

In Dell’s own testing on an Oracle database, the three–node solution delivered a 97% average response time reduction, and a 71% cost reduction per user. With eight nodes, the response time improved with the larger cache pool, to a 99.3% average response time reduction.

“Everyone has a need for better performance, but to begin with, this will be positioned for larger user businesses with larger user bases and transaction processing,” Payne said. “The other area we are targeting is virtualization. IO patterns become random with servers concentrated on one physical servers, and customers with a virtual environment will get better performance from this. For VDI, it will  provide needed IO performance, which can be costly with a traditional approach.”

Dell’s Compellent Storage Center 6.5 array software has featured intelligent data placement across multiple types of flash technologies or in combination with traditional disk drives. The new 6.5 release extends the performance and tiering advancements of previous versions while offering new enterprise features for customers.

“Compellent Storage Center 6.5 has a significant set of capabilities that’s easy to manage,” Fine said.

The improvements begin with the introduction of block level compression technology.

“The block level compression gives the ability to store more data in a smaller footprint, and the results are compression rates up to 77%,” Fine said.

“6.5 also has our first drive-level encryption product, with FIPS 140-2 support,” Fine said.  “And for enhanced business continuity, new synchronous Live Volume capability gives continuous access to data, allowing data to be moved from the primary to remote site non-disruptively.”

Fine also noted improvements for hosted options, through new multi-VLAN tagging support that lets service providers offer multiple service levels to customers on different secure virtual domains on the same Storage Center.

The latest release of the Dell OpenManage systems management portfolio adds new features to better  automate IT operations and improve efficiency, availability and reliability.

Dell OpenManage Mobile is the industry’s first mobile handheld solution to provide IT administrators with full one-to-many access to anywhere, anytime data center monitoring of servers, storage, networking and firewall systems.

“The comprehensive nature of this is what is new,” Fine said. “It’s the first with full functionality for access, monitoring and managing the health status. Others monitor it, but don’t have the active component, so you need to get to get to another console to change things.”

The Dell OpenManage Essentials 1.3 systems management console, which monitors enterprise-class hardware, has also been enhanced, to add data center protection through integration with Dell AppAssure for scheduled system backups of server data, operating systems, applications, files and databases, as well as discovery and monitoring of Dell SonicWALL security appliances.

Dell is also enhancing its full suite of Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools

“These tools are critical for our customers, because they buy more than just a storage array or a server,” Fine said. “It’s how they work together and the application compatibility.” The new tools offer improved and simplified SAN performance, streamlined management, and improved administrator efficiency, in a storage environment optimized for virtual computing environments.

Dell is introducing new capabilities for PowerEdge VRTX – its’ shared infrastructure system featuring a blade chassis with shared storage that it launched last year.

“We have added a second RAID controller that can pick up the workload should the first have problems,” Payne said. “This is especially important in remote places, to eliminate a single point of failure.”

Payne also noted that the PowerEdge VRTX now offers additional server node choices and enhanced GPU support for VDI.

“The VRTX platform has been a strong channel product for us,” he said. “It takes a lot of the legwork out for the channel and makes it simple to deploy a unified server storage and networking solution. We have mobilized the channel to sell this product, and over 7000 sales and technical courses related to it have been completed by partners.”

Dell Fluid Cache for SAN and Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.5 will be available worldwide in June.  Pricing starts at $USD 12,300, with additional nodes at $4900 per server.

Dell’s enhanced OpenManage portfolio is available worldwide now.

Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools (HIT)/VMware 4.0 and HIT/Linux 1.3 are available worldwide now. HIT/Microsoft 4.7 will be available later this month.

The new features of Dell PowerEdge VRTX are available now.

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