Dell EqualLogic PS6510X review

Dell’s new EqualLogic PS6510X delivers full 10-Gigabit speeds, heaps of storage and extreme ease of use. In this exclusive review we find out if this is the IP SAN appliance enterprises have been waiting for.

Each appliance manages its own RAID arrays but storage of all group members is made available as a single entity. You can grow with demand as up to 16 physical appliances can be gathered together in groups and presented as logical storage pools.

Virtual volumes are created within this space and presented as iSCSI targets but the volume data is spread across all appliances and drives in the group. We had no problems deploying the PS6510X in the lab as Dell's Remote Setup Wizard searches for new arrays and provides a quick install routine.

The Group Manager web console sports a new design with the tabbed interface designed to improve ease of access. Groups, volumes, replication and monitoring functions are now separated out to make displays less complex.

Volume creation is entirely wizard driven. You choose a storage pool, decide on a volume size and add access restrictions where you can limit host access by CHAP authentication, IP address or initiator name.

Thin provisioning can be configured during volume creation and you decide how much physical space to start with. The appliance uses three watermarks where the minimum size is 10 per cent of the virtual volume.

When the volume is 95 per cent full the system starts throttling back I/O performance to allow administrators time to increase the volume size. Once you reach the critical watermark the volume is placed offline.

Snapshots are set up during volume creation where you decide how much space to set aside for them and at any time you can promote snapshots as new volumes. A thin provisioned volume will have its snapshots and replicas thinly provisioned and you can also swap on the fly between classic and thin provisioned volumes.

The new ASM-VE (auto snapshot manager VMware edition) feature adds support for VM replication. It's also designed to maintain consistency when taking snapshots of data stores.

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