Archives For Dell

Next week I shall be attending the Dell Storage Forum taking place at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center, Paris. This is the 2nd Storage Forum to take place in Europe after the London event in January.

Marriott Rive Gauche Exterior

For those who haven’t been to a storage forum before it offers Dells customers and Partners the chance to meet the Dell Storage Execs, hear about the product line and strategy, attend technical sessions to learn to get the most out of your environment and finally sit hands on labs for the Dell storage range.

If you will be attending the storage forum make sure you say hi, the storage forum offers a great opportunity to meet other users from across different industries, make contacts and discuss your use and love of the technology.  

Full details regarding the event can be found on the Dell Storage Forum website here >> http://www.dellstorageforum.com/?elqPURLPage=317

Also if you are in Paris on Wednesday or attending the forum be sure to join us for Storage Beers taking place just a short walk away from the conference at Havane Café  (Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, 75013 Paris, France)

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I look forward to meeting you there and for those of you who wont be able to attend I will be blogging and taking lots of photos throughout the conference.

Dell have recently released their latest VMware integration tools for EqualLogic, as usual in the first instance these tools are for early production access so unless you are happy being cutting edge I would wait for them to move from EPA before installing in production environments.

I haven’t had a chance to install this release just yet but from the release notes you will see the following changes

1. New name for the virtual appliance as it contains more than just HIT/VE it will now be referred to as VSM/VMware standing for virtual storage manager
2. The new VSM contains the MEM multipathing module and the SRM storage adapter as with as the host Integration tools
3. Finally we get support for managing multiple Equallogic groups, and this has been a problem for a number of my customers
4. The ability to manage replication from directly from VSM
5. Support for the recently released version 6 firmware

There are a number of updates which can be seen in the screen shot below. Keep an eye on my blog as over the coming weeks I will be working on a video covering this and version 6 of the firmware.

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Dell Acquires AppAssure

February 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

Friday Dell announced that they were to acquire backup vendor AppAssure, more information for the Acquasition can be found here >> http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/direct2dell/b/direct2dell/archive/2012/02/24/dell-acquires-appassure.aspx

AppAssure

In the announcement above Dell gave some clues to their intentions for AppAssure with tight integration with the Dell storage portfolio to further assist with the fluid data vision.

Dell will extend the benefit of AppAssure across our enterprise solutions and services portfolio. Initially, it will be a software-only solution, and then over time we will offer additional data protection solutions tightly integrated in our Fluid Data architecture as we’ve done with our other acquired IP, including EqualLogic, Compellent and the Fluid File System. Customers will be able to manage data end-to-end, not in silos of servers and storage, or islands of sites.

Other than a base understanding of the AppAssure product I haven’t got any previous experience with using the product so I will leave those thoughts for another day, but you can see why Dell would want to have a backup product in the fold, the likes of HP, EMC and NetApp are all able to offer a backup product with their storage solutions and quite commonly I am asked what is the best way to backup VM’s from a replica or snapshot which isn’t easily done without a third party product at present.

However Dell have always been pretty good with their relationship with backup vendors particularly Symantec and increasingly Commvault, personally if it was Commvault that had been acquired I wouldn’t have been surprised at all.

Dell and Commvault

Dell and Symantec

My personal hope is that with the acquisition of AppAssure it doesn’t cause Dell to put their guard up against other backup vendors on the market, as a hardware vendor I believe it is important for them to be able to maintain the flexibility to allow end users to use their choice of backup products. I look forward into seeing how AppAssure is integrated into the storage family and also personally learning what AppAssure has to offer.

Dell have recently announced the latest versions of their SANs the PS4100 and PS6100 Series.

These are the first Equallogic’s that Dell have completely manufactured in house. The previous models although running Dell controllers and firmware were manufactured by Xyratex. The new models utilise both 2.5” and 3.5” disks with the emphasis being on the 2.5” disks.

The new controllers also have some new technology such as vertical port failover previously their was only controller failover rather than per port failover. Gone is the battery write back cache and in with the new backup to flash, meaning you no longer have a limited time to repower your device before the contents of the cache is lost.

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There are now 4 models in the PS4100 range

Model Disks Type Disk Quantity Size U’s
PS4100E 3.5” 7.5K Near Line SAS 12 2
PS4100X 2.5” 10K SAS 24 2
PS4100XV 2.5” 15K SAS 24 2
PS4100XV 3.5” 15K SAS 12 2

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There are 6 models in the PS6100 range

Model Disks Type Disk Quantity Size U’s
PS6100E 3.5” 7.5K Near Line SAS 24 4
PS6100X 2.5” 10K SAS 24 2
PS6100XV 2.5” 15K SAS 24 2
PS6100S 2.5” SSD 24 2
PS6100XS 2.5” SSD + 10K SAS 17 SSD, 7 SAS 2
PS6100XV 3.5” 15K SAS 24 4
 
Conclusions
From what I have seen I see this as a good evolutionary step for Dell’s acquisition of Equallogic, the use of 2.5” disks across the new range has meant increased spindle count with less space requirements in your racks. Also as a nice to have all new SANs will now use Dell’s Rapid Rails, some of the previous Equallogic rails have been questionable but have got a lot better recently. I am particularly pleased to see the enhancements to the hybrid unit, the previous XVS had only 8 SSD’s and 8 15K SAS drives, meaning you were severely limited with capacity, with the new 24 disk model we are seeing a lot better use of a smaller amount of SSD’s with a larger amount of 10K SAS to give the increased capacity. Also the evolutionary steps for the controllers introduce some nice new availability features with the vertical port failover and the flash backed cache.
 
For more information head over to http://www.equallogic.com for more information about the latest range of SANS.

On Tuesday I visited the Dell Tech Camp 2011, taking place at the Roundhouse in London. The purpose of the Dell Tech Camp is to allow Dell to showcase it’s products to their customers and partners. This event isn’t really a conference as there was only 1 formal presentation at the beginning, the introduction was led by Stephen Murdoch, Vice President and General Manager of Large Enterprise at Dell EMEA. The introduction concentrated on what Dell had been doing,  it was clear that social networking had hit Dell big time, past the  hashtag that was being advertised every where, Stephen explained how they had embraced social networking internally and are using a solution called idea storm to assist with product development ideas. Stephen went on to explain how Dell practice what they preach with 7000 server virtualised internally, gaining a 55 million dollar power saving at it’s Austin HQ and it had now reached it’s goal of becoming carbon neutral.

(I apologise for the poor quality photos, they were taken on my iPhone, I will take my DSLR next time!)

Stephen Murdoch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft were next on stage with Terry Smith to talk about their special relationship with Dell and the cloud. Terry talked about how Microsoft was emabracing a different world with software driven experiences and continous cloud services for everyone, they already have over 400 million users on the cloud and half of the fortune 500. Microsoft Bing now has over 30% of the market share in the US and there are 30 million paying users of XBox live, finally Microsoft has roughly 80% of it’s developers currently concentrating on the cloud.

After the introduction presentation we were onto the round central hall at the round house, the hall was separated into different areas showcasing different areas and products from Dell.

Show Floor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first port of call was to find the Dell storage stand and discuss the announcements at the Dell Storage Forum (US) from a few hours earlier.

Equallogic and Compellent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was please to see on show an Equallogic PS6000 series SAN, a Compellent SAN and the recently announced Dell Equallogic FS7500, the FS7500 will add NAS functionality to the Equallogic product line. The FS7500 is powered by Dell’s Scalable File System, this comes from their acquisition of Exanet, it will give clustered NFS and CIF’s functionality to the Equallogic range of SANs. It works by being added into the Equallogic group for centralised management. It come’s as two clustered server nodes and a backup power supply to protect the 24GB of Cache within the unit. for full details of the Equallogic FS7500 be sure to check out the product page here >> http://www.equallogic.com/products/default.aspx?id=10465

The other announcement from Equallogic was the new 5.1 firmware, the new 5.1 version of the firmware will introduce new load balancing methods, for those that don’t know Equallogic virtualises the storage which means your volumes get spread (currently) on up to 3 members, these volumes are then currently moved to the different types of storage based on the workload of the volume. Moving forward with the new firmware this will now happen at the block level, meaning hotspots within a volume are able to be moved to the faster disk, this will also happen starting when you have at least 2 members in your group. Technology similar to this has been used already within Equallogic’s SAS / SSD XVS models. It has been reported that in the Dell labs this has meant an increase in performance of unto 3 x utilising the same hardware! The new firmware will also be able to support the DCB (Datacenter Bridging Protocol) to further enhance the stability of performance and QoS for iSCSI when using 10Gb NICS, watch out for more to come on this.

I also used this opportunity to start understanding the Compellent product line, I will leave the details of this for another post when I know a little bit more, but Compellent is now sitting as Equallogic’s big brother in the Dell storage family and is based on a frame based architecture supporting both iSCSI and FC.

Next for me was onto the Dell SMB stand, my focus once again turned to the storage side of things and the new PowerVault MD3600f / MD3620f, this is Dell’s first FC SAN in their PowerVault range and to be honest I was quite surprised to learn about it. Previous to the Compellent purchase Dell had been completely iSCSI through it’s Equallogic and PowerVault products and this seemed to be a set standard for them. I wonder if we will see FC reach the Equallogic product line in the future? My gut feeling is that we won’t, but then I didn’t think we would see it with PowerVault either. Speaking to the representative on the SAN they explained this wasn’t a shift in direction just meeting demand, they acknowledge that some people have already invested in FC and some have a set mind that they want to use FC.

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I visited the Dell user experience area and was shown the processes they go through when designing a new product, I was quite surprised to see the levels of detail they goto to design a business object such as a server. The representative explained that they always start on paper with the server design from a aesthetic point of view, but they like to as quickly as possible get to a foam model (as shown in the picture below, the middle server) Dell heavily involves user groups in the design process, the representative went on to explain how when making the removal disk caddies Dell had initially designed these to be a gloss black in colour, the feedback was this made them look like they were made from plastic and not metal, this final result was this part was painted in a grey powder coat for a more industrial look.

Prototypes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent several hours walking around and looking at what was on offer and chatting to various Dell representative’s , there were a number of Alienware laptops on display including a model with a 3D display. I had a go at a first person shoot’em up style game, it was very impressive but for me personally I found the wearing of the glasses to be more of a distraction than adding to the game at all.

Alienware

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were also a number of solutions for specialist areas such as hospitals, military and the police. The below mobile datacenter was displayed on the crimescene investigation stand and comprised of 6 servers, and Equallogic PS6010.

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This was my first Dell Tech Camp and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was good to network with the Dell employees and see the technology in action. From my point of view I would have loved to have been able to have got some hands on time with the technology and learn the more in-depth aspects of the products. Hopefully this is something we can see added in the future, they certainly had all the technology there on site to do some form or hand’s on break outs.