Dell heralds ‘virtual era’ with new storage products

Intelligent handling and data awareness are the keystones of Dell’s storage strategy, according to a senior executive.

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Dell has signalled the beginning of a new "virtual era" with the announcement of three storage products at a UK launch today.

The company's vice president of storage, Darren Thomas, claimed server virtualisation is now becoming the norm rather than the exception to the rule in data centres.

However rather than a physical box, the first announcement was the introduction of a firmware 5.0 update for its EqualLogic range. Thomas said this would enable businesses to focus on "intelligent data management", rather than just the mechanics of the creation of virtual servers.

He also said the new firmware would be aware of the presence of virtual machines and of the data load they contained and would automatically create extra space on a storage array without human intervention.

"Automation is crucial, otherwise you can't react fast enough," he said.

The new firmware will also copy data into a new virtual machine up to 72 per cent faster than previously, he claimed, adding: "No one knows how to move data faster than we do".

It would do so with a 95 per cent drop in SAN traffic, and a 75 per cent reduction in CPU usage, he said.

Also introduced were the EqualLogic PS6000XVS and PS6010XVS storage arrays, which enabled the combination of SAS and SSD drives on one enclosure for the first time. Firmware 5.0 would take advantage of this by providing automatic tiering of data from the slower SAS drives to the faster, more expensive SSDs automatically, depending on the demand on the database.

Two new PowerVault storage arrays the MD3200 and MD3200i were also launched, aimed at small to medium businesses. Dell claimed the products provided twice the performance, connectivity and capacity of the previous generation models.

"We've just doubled everything," said Thomas. The arrays can be equipped with up to 96 drives in total and offer same design language as its servers for example the orange handle indicating a hot plug drive in order to ensure they are familiar to existing customers.

Finally, Thomas said Dell was expanding and would offer half day workshops for free to help set up EqualLogic systems, although he claimed it was possible to get an EqualLogic system up and running from the box in under eight minutes.

This was echoed by Gerard Chadwick, the IT director for JMW Solicitors, who said that the ease of setup was one of the factors that led it to choose Dell's EqualLogic storage.

"From a training perspective is very easy to use," said Chadwick. "The eight minutes out of the box setup speaks volumes."

The PowerVault products will both cost 4,333 and be available from 15 June.

The pricing is yet to be confirmed for the EquaLogic boxes but they will be launched in August.

The firmware is available immediately free of charge.

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