Dell Technologies concluded a two-and-a-half-year journey to modernize its midrange portfolio today with the launch of Dell EMC PowerStore, an all-flash storage array that the vendor says is up to seven times faster and three times more responsive than its previous midrange storage entries.
The data center is no longer about speeds and feeds – it’s where digital transformation is won or lost, according to Caitlin Gordon, vice president of product marketing for Dell Technologies. To this end, PowerStore is “truly designed for the data era” to support physical, virtual, and containerized workloads, she added.
“Customers tell us a main obstacle keeping them from achieving their digital transformation initiatives is the constant tug-of-war between supporting the ever-increasing number of workloads — from traditional IT applications to data analytics — and the reality of cost constraints, limitations and complexity of their existing IT infrastructure” said Dan Inbar, president and GM of storage at Dell Technologies in a statement.
The new midrange storage system sits between PowerMax for high-end storage and PowerVault for entry-level storage. It is also the first product built from the ground up as a combined company with EMC, VMware, and other portfolio technologies. The all-flash arrays’ programmable infrastructure aims to optimize and automate storage workflows from application toolsets to cut deployment time from days to seconds.
PowerStore supports orchestration frameworks including Ansible, VMware vRealize Orchestrator, and Kubernetes, “eliminating manual tasks saves time and money, but most importantly also reduces risk from the environment,” said Gordon.
Scaling Up and Out
Faster communications protocols are a must in a world of artificial intelligence, big data, and other data-intensive platforms and applications. One of the protocols developed to meet this need is non-volatile memory express (NVMe)
PowerStore is constructed with end-to-end NVMe and a built-in, real-time machine learning (ML) engine with dual-ported Intel Optane SSDs for Storage Class Memory (SCM) as persistent storage, and up to 32Gb FC or 25Gb Ethernet support. It also boasts additional memory for more processing power with the addition of Intel’s Xeon Scalable Processor – formerly known as Cascade Lake – which hit the shelves in February. It’s worth noting that competitor Pure Storage also features Intel’s Xeon Scalable Processor in its third-generation all-NVMe FlashArray//X controllers announced earlier this year.
The ML-powered platform automates labor-intensive processes, suggesting optimal data placement in what Dell calls a “future proof architecture” for when SCM becomes more readily available in the future. SCM as a storage tier provides caching times that are faster than basic flash, but both slower and cheaper than DRAM. With deduplication and compression capabilities, Dell said, it has improved data reduction ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 without compromising performance.
Dell also introduced a new feature that enables VMware virtualized workloads to run directly on PowerStore called AppsON for faster access to data and quicker response times. Thanks to a built-in VMware vSphere integration, storage administration can streamline and consolidate targeted external virtual machines for edge computing, ROBO, mobile and tactical deployments.
AppsON complements existing platforms, including Dell Technologies hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) VxRail product by providing a landing zone for storage-intensive workloads that require data efficiency and “always on” data reduction.
Future Proof and Free Upgrades
New to the Future-Proof Program is PowerStores “Anytime Upgrade” option that gives enterprises the choice to upgrade in one of three ways. Customers can trade-in first-generation controllers for next-generation equivalent models for free; upgrade to a more high-end PowerStore model from the same generation of products, also for free; introduce a second storage appliance at a discounted rate.
“Together, the Anytime Upgrades and the PowerStore adaptable architecture effectively ends the traditional cycle of disruptive storage platform migration with simple, flexible data-in-place upgrades — without downtime or impact to applications,” said Diana Hyland, product marketing manager for Dell Technologies Services, in a blog post. “And unlike other programs, Anytime Upgrades may be executed at any time within your service contract as opposed to waiting years.”
According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker, during the fourth quarter of 2019 Dell captured 27.6% of the $7.9 billion worldwide enterprise external OEM storage systems market followed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (10.1%), IBM (9.1%), and NetApp (8.9%). It also competes against Hitachi, Pure Storage, Kaminario, VAST Data, Excelero, Pavilion, and StorCentric’s Vexata arrays.