Dell unveils new midrange offering with Dell EMC PowerStore

While all current Dell EMC mid-range storage offerings will continue to be sold, the new PowerStore, which is up to seven times faster than the Unity XT midrange offering, becomes their Go-To offering for all-flash in the midrange.

Dell PowerStore

Today, Dell Technologies is announcing a new mid-range storage offering, Dell EMC PowerStore. Built with a single architecture for block, file, and VMware vVols, and designed to leverage new technology like end-to-end NVMe and Intel Optane Storage Class Memory [SCM], PowerStore delivers 7x more IOPS and 3x lower latency compared to previous generations of Dell midrange storage.

“In 20 years, this is the single most important and differentiated storage product launch we have ever had,” said Scott Millard, Senior Vice President, Data Center Sales at Dell Technologies. “Mid-range is the fastest growing segment of the market. All-flash arrays are a little more than half the market. PowerStore targets that sweet spot – mid-range and all-flash.”

The announcement has three major themes, said Ben Jastrab, Senior Manager, Storage Product Marketing at Dell Technoligies. These are data-centricity, intelligence with automation and simplicity, and adaptable infrastructure.

The data-centricity emphasizes simplifying IT infrastructure by supporting a wide range of traditional and modern workloads with its scale-up, scale-out architecture for block, file and VMware vVols.

“We wouldn’t have made this decision to redesign and rearchitect if we didn’t realize that future needs of customers would be different from 10 years, 5 years, or even one year ago,” Jastrab said. “We had to rethink the design of the platform. We know the other vendors have been talking similar concepts, but it’s about execution. We think this is the right design for the mid-range space.”

The end-to-end NVMe design and support for SCM as persistent storage is what makes PowerStore seven times faster with three times better latency than Unity XT. PowerStore will ship with all NVMe-based drives. NVME-over-Fabric is coming, but not at ship date. It will be introduced in the future.

“PowerStore also means the end of data migration because you can independently scale up and out, allowing for data-in-place upgrades with no downtime or impact,” Jastrab added. AnyTime Upgrades controller upgrades allow migration from existing Dell EMC platforms in less than 10 clicks.”

“We think NVMe and SCM are things you just can’t come to market without today,” Millard said. “Our ability to scale up and scale out is something where not all competitors are there. Always-on inline data reduction of 4:1 is guaranteed, and we think that this is market leading from performance and efficiency perspectives.”

PowerStore’s machine learning and intelligent automation allows for faster delivery of applications and services.

“It is highly programmable, with plug ins to VMware vRealize Orchestrator, VRealize Automation, Kubernetes and Ansible,” Jastrab said.  This programmable infrastructure streamlines application development and reduces deployment timeframes from days to seconds. Built-in machine learning also automates labor-intensive processes like initial volume placement, migrations, load balancing and issue resolution.

“We have added Dell EMC CloudIQ intelligent infrastructure software, which uses machine learning and human intelligence to anticipate the need for additional infrastructure and determine risk,” Jastrab added. “That’s available out of the gate. The CloudIQ technology will be integrated across the full infrastructure portfolio in due course.

The Adaptable Infrastructure – what Jastrab referred to as the really cool stuff – begins with PowerStoreOS, the system’s container-based software architecture.

“The architecture is container-based and completely built from the ground up to facilitate microservices running in containers,” Jastrab said.

Also new is AppsON, which builds a VMware ESXi Hypervisor into the array.

“It lets you run applications directly on the appliance,” Jastrab noted. “This is ideal for data intensive, demanding workloads and infrastructure apps. This is the only purpose-built array with a built-in ESXi hypervisor.” That’s only one of many VMware integration points stemming from VMware’s tight relationship with corporate parent Dell. It also includes vVols, vRO/vRA, and VMware Cloud Foundation.

“You can deploy it alongside existing infrastructure since it’s a consistent VMware software stack,” Jastrab said. “It’s complementary, not competitive.”

While PowerStore is available today just as an appliance, down the road there will be a software-defined storage as well.

“That work is just getting underway,” Jastrab indicated. “It won’t be this year.”

Another feature that is a futures is synchronous replication.

“We have asynchronous replication out of the gate, and we have other things in our data protection portfolio that handles synchronous in the mid-term,” Jastrab said.

Pricing is not yet public but Jastrab stated it will be appropriate for the market.

“It’s priced vary competitively for the mid-range market,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of analysis of competitors to see the pricing curves and are confident of that.”

With PowerStore becoming available, you might assume that Dell’s previous multi-headed mid-range portfolio would be put on the road to end-of-life – but you’d be wrong.

“There are no end of life plans today, although the plans were always to consolidate over time,” Jastab said. “The high end in this space continues to be PowerMax. We will also continue to sell Unity XT for hybrid use cases. PowerVault remains for the low end. PowerStore is mid-range all-flash. Nothing is end of lifed. SC is still available, but we expect customers will migrate over time.”

Millard pointed out that PowerStore qualifies for all existing Dell technologies storage incents.

“We invested in over 100 no-cost seed units for partners, including fee-waived architecture certifications,” he said. “PowerStore is also available through our demo program, and though Co-Delivery, where the partners sell services and we pay them to deliver it. It also qualifies for Flex on Demand, for either a 12 or 36 month term.”