Dell EqualLogic PS6000XV SAN storage appliance review

Dell’s new EqualLogic PS6000XV IP SAN appliance delivers great value, capacity and features – could it also be the fastest?

A screen of combined graphs keeps you posted on network utilisation along with the number of logged in hosts and a separate screen provides a rundown on I/Os and average latency. We did notice that the table for disk performance didn't work as most of the drives showed a zero throughput. The network option has a speedo dial showing overall utilisation of the virtual network port plus a summary for the group.

For testing we used four Dell PowerEdge R410 rack servers and connected them to the PS6000XV via a Force10 S25 Gigabit switch. We used all four ports on the primary controller and created a fourteen drive RAID-10 member array. Within this we created four 50GB partitions and limited target access to our test servers by their IP addresses.

Starting with one server we logged on to the first virtual volume and ran Iometer configured with four disk workers and 64KB sequential read transfer requests, where it reported a steady raw read throughput of 118MB/sec. With another server connected to the second volume we saw a cumulative throughput of 236MB/sec. Logging the third and fourth servers onto dedicated volumes saw this increase to 340MB/sec.

We tested further using two servers with MPIO links configured. Setting these up using Dell's host integration tools is a cinch as you just connect two physical network ports, log on to the portal and target and Dell does the rest no more mucking about manually configuring individual MPIO links.

One server reported an impressive 235MB/sec and with two in the mix we saw this increase to a whopping 470MB/sec cumulate read throughput actually 30MB/sec higher than Dell's claims. There are some prerequisites as you must have jumbo frames configured throughout along with flow control and all iSCSI initiators must have the least queue depth load balancing option selected.

The new PS6000 family of IP SAN appliances clearly deliver on Dell's performance promises but offer a lot more besides. Support for virtualised environments is a high priority and the fact that snapshots, thin provisioning and replication are included makes this a great value appliance.

Verdict

The PS6000XV brings together a fine combination of capacity, expansion potential and extreme ease of use. The number of features included as standard makes this very good value and there’s nothing currently in the IP SAN market at this price point that can touch it for sheer performance.

Chassis: 3U rack

Power: 2 x 440W hot-plug

Storage: 16 x 450 Seagate 15K.6 SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers

RAID: 5, 6, 10, 50

Controllers: 2 (active/standby)

Each with:

Memory: 1GB MicroSD

Cache: 2GB 667MHz DDR2

Battery backup: Yes (72 hours)

Network: 4 x Gigabit

Management: CLI, Web browser, optional Dell SAN HeadQuarters

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