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Dell EquaLogic launches automated tiering

vStorage API integration in new firmware

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Dell has announced XVS versions of its P6000 arrays that provide faster and more efficient VMware storage, plus new firmware that automatically moves hot data into a solid state drive (SSD) tier from SAS disks in the same enclosure.

There are two new XVS versions of the EqualLogic PS6000 array, which was originally announced in March last year. The company says thee PS6000XVS and PS6010XVS arrays improves the performance of multi-tiered workloads like virtual desktops and reduces the time to boot multiple VMs by up to 76 per cent. These arrays have been designed specifically to work with ESX, Citrix Xen, and Hyper-V, particularly in the desktop virtualisation area.

Version 5 firmware, which will run on all PS EqualLogic arrays, can virtualise an enclosure containing both SSD and SAS drives into a single storage pool with automated placement of hot data onto the SSD tier. This takes place in seconds or minutes according to Dell product marketing manager Dylan Locsin. He says the new EqualLogic technology could cut the number of storage arrays needed in a desktop virtualisation environment by up to three quarters.

The v5.0 firmware is VMware-aware with support for the vStorage API. Dell is quite happy for the hypervisor to front-end storage resource management. For example, copy and snapshot operations can be set up by Vware and offloaded to the EqualLogic array. There is a new multipathing plug-in for VMware. It was previously available for Windows and has now been added to VMware. However, it requires a new version of ESX, which VMware has yet to announce.

Another future is an EqualLogic one – thin provisioning measures to ensure that virtual machines don't run out of thinly-provisioned capacity.

The vStorage integration has performance benefits. Dell claims it reduces the time to complete provisioning scenarios by up to 72 per cent; reduces SAN network traffic by up to 95 per cent; and reduces CPU utilisation by up to 75 per cent, compared to the previous EqualLogic firmware. Such performance boosts for a product line which has recorded 78 percent year-on-year revenue growth in its most recent quarter bodes well for continued revenue growth.

There is also support for thin clones. These are clones of virtual machines which all share a template volume and are, in effect, deltas of a VM around the core template. Previously, clones were complete in themselves; now they consist of template plus unique clone. Thirty thin clones could share a single template and thus use up much less storage capacity. A prime use case for thin clones is for high-performance computing (HPC) servers booting off a SAN.

Dell is also introducing new PowerVault MD3200i iSCSI and MD3200 SAS arrays.

The EqualLogic PS6000XVS and PS6010XVS will be available in early August and pricing starts at $50,000 and $55,000 respectively.  The EqualLogic 5.0 firmware is available today at no additional charge to existing or new EqualLogic customers.

The PowerVault MD3200 and MD3200i are available next week and pricing starts around $11,000. ®

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