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Mobile to Storage, Dell Enterprise Solutions Announced

By - Source: Dell

Dell unveiled a long list of new and updated products the company says will enhance the performance of applications that deal with data intensive workloads, increase IT administrator's productivity, and accelerate networking capabilities in data centers and cloud infrastructures. The list includes:

  • Dell Fluid Cache for SAN
  • Dell Compellent Storage Center
  • Dell OpenManage Essentials 1.3
  • Dell OpenManage Mobile
  • iDrac with LifeCycle Controller
  • Dell Networking Z9500 Ethernet Fabric Switch
  • Dell Active Fabric Controller

The centerpiece in this week's announcement is Dell's Fluid Cache for SAN; the company says it has achieved a random read input/output per second (IOPS) speed of 5 million IOPS.

[Read: Hybrid Storage Solutions]

Attempts to speed up data demanding applications tend to revolve around buying larger and faster hard or solid state drives and then trying to locate and eliminate, or at least minimize bottlenecks that exist between an application and the data it needs to access.

As the cache term implies, Dell's Fluid Cache for SAN reduces bottlenecks by simply copying the most frequently accessed data to a point closer to the application. By making a copy of the data on high speed flash drives, applications can retrieve data from the low latency storage pool. If the data remains generally static, applications accessing data from the closer Fluid Cache improves the response time compared to an application having to make repeated database requests for the same data over a network.

In Dell Lab tests, database applications showed an average response time reduction of 99 percent in a configuration using an 8 node cluster of OLTP (online transaction processing) running on an Oracle database workload simulation. The before and after comparison was based on the same Dell hardware stack and running the test with and without the Dell Fluid Cache for SAN in operation.

The 5 million random IOPS speeds were achieved using a random read workload with a 4 KB sized block last December. The hardware stack consisted of eight Dell PowerEdge R720 servers each containing two Dell Express Flash 350 GB PCIe SSDs, one Mellanox ConnectX-3 40GE RoCE card, and Fluid Cache software. All of the systems were connected to Dell Networking and Dell Compellent storage solutions.

According to Dell's FAQ on Fluid Cache for SAN, the solution requires:

  • Fluid Cache software;
  • At least three compatible Dell PowerEdge Servers supporting Dell PCIe Express Flash SSD;
  • Connection to a 10/40 GbE low latency private cache network;
  • Connection to a Dell Compellent SC 8000 controller and Dell Compellent SC220 storage array.

The enterprise-class Dell Compellent storage arrays can be all flash or a hybrid design. Dell's SAN solution benefits from not only the use of flash optimized storage but also the Compellent Data Progression Intelligent tiering technology that optimizes read and write performance by automatically determining the best location for data to be stored.

The Dell Compellent Storage Center software is being updated to version 6.5 with the new version adding:

  • New block level compression that Dell says can achieve a compression ratio up to 77 percent.
  • Self-encrypting drives that can be especially important for businesses needing to meet regulatory compliance standards.
  • New synchronous Live Volume capability that allow customers to restore data non-disruptively and keep applications running during unplanned outages.
  • Multi-VLAN tagging support that allow service providers to offer multiple service levels to customers on different secure virtual domains on the same Storage Center.

Dell's OpenManage portfolio is a suite of IT administrative products that allow IT to manage, automate, and control systems from a central console. This suite is also receiving some new features meant to further automate IT operations. This latest release includes: 

  • Dell OpenManage Essentials 1.3 now integrates with Dell AppAssure, a backup, replication, and recovery program. The addition of AppAssure allows an administrator to schedule backups of server data, operating systems, applications, and other files for data center protection. OpenManage Essentials provides IT administrators with a view of systems, devices, and components within the organizations environment and has added several new items, including Dell's SonicWALL firewall application.
    A list of items supported by version 1.3 can be viewed here:  Dell OpenManage Essentials Version 1.3 Support Matrix or see the release notes for version 1.3 here: Dell OpenManage Essentials Version 1.3 Release Notes
  • Dell OpenManage Mobile will allow IT administrators to remotely perform a subset of data center monitoring and server tasks from an Android handheld device. OpenManage Mobile is integrated with OpenManage Essentials 1.3 and connects to the data center through the OpenManage Essentials management console. IT Administrators will be able to monitor, manage, or correct problems with Dell or any third party supported appliance.  Alerts can be sent to a user's mobile device and acknowledged, forwarded, or deleted. They can also be shut off.
  • iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller includes new automatic deployment and configuration functionality to reduce the number of tasks required to deploy hardware configurations.

On the network front Dell focused primarily on scale-out and cloud based environments with a summary of items the company announced in late March that included:

  • Dell Networking Z9500 Ethernet fabric switch that Dell states is an energy-efficient, highest density per rack unit, and is the only pay-as-you-grow 10/40 GbE data center core switch available today. 
  • Dell Active Fabric Controller is a purpose-built SDN platform designed to configure and deploy networking functionality in cloud and XaaS environments. This Active Fabric Controller is targeted for enterprise OpenStack deployments and as an optional component of Dell OpenStack-Powered cloud solutions.

In the final update, Dell has upgraded its suite of Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools that help to manage storage and applications, including virtual machines for Microsoft, VMware, and Linux environments. The new version EqualLogic software will be available for the EqualLogic PS6210 Series and other PS Series arrays. According to Dell the upgrade offers, "improved and simplified SAN performance, streamlined management, and improved administrator efficiency to provide customers with a storage environment finely tuned for virtual computing environments." Availability varies:

  • Dell Fluid Cache for SAN and Dell Compellent Storage Center 6.5 will be available worldwide in the second quarter.
  • Dell’s OpenManage portfolio is available worldwide now.
  • Dell Networking Z9500 Fabric Switch is available in North America in April and worldwide in June.
  • Dell Active Fabric Controller will be available worldwide in the second quarter.
  • Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools (HIT)/VMware 4.0 and HIT/Linux 1.3 are available worldwide now.
  • Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools (HIT)/Microsoft 4.7 will be available later this month.