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Highlights & Insights

Dell PowerStore Scalable All-Flash Storage

The future of storage is now

The Dell Technologies PowerStore appliances are ideal for enterprises looking to integrate all-flash storage as part of a scalable, highly adaptable infrastructure platform. Read more to learn about the 2.1 release and its range of capabilities.

Dell Technologies added PowerStore to its expansive portfolio of storage products in May 2020. These days, the latest line of ground-breaking Dell Technologies PowerStore appliances offers a myriad of features that make it ideal for enterprises looking to integrate all-flash storage as part of a scalable, highly adaptable infrastructure platform. Dell PowerStore 2.1 equips both traditional and modern workloads with a data-centric, intelligent and highly adaptable infrastructure, allowing enterprises to achieve unprecedented levels of agility--without the management and operational complexity. In this article, we'll provide some key highlights of the Dell Technologies PowerStore line and cover prominent features and benefits that make it a standout storage appliance offering.

About PowerStore 2.1

PowerStore all-flash data storage appliances utilize innovative storage mechanisms like dual active-active storage nodes and support for up to three drive expansion enclosures per appliance for additional storage capacity. The underlying hardware and software architectures are equally impressive: a container-based software architecture for maximum adaptability and enhanced resource utilization/performance coupled with a versatile hardware architecture and scale-up/out platform based on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, end-to-end NVMe Flash (nonvolatile memory express) and dual-ported Intel® Optane SSDs. Some other prominent features and capabilities include:

Support for AppsON

The Dell Technologies PowerStore features an industry-first capability called AppsON that enables certain VMware virtualized workloads/applications to run directly on the purpose-built array. By integrating VMware vSphere as a built-in component, PowerStore allows for streamlined management of storage resources installed directly at the virtualization layer.

The lightweight, simplified operations enable enterprises to realize unprecedented application mobility and flexibility; this makes Dell PowerStore ideal for environments that incorporate edge computing, remote office/branch offices (ROBO), mobile or internet of things (IoT) deployments and more.

NVMe/TCP and SmartFabric Software

In October 2021, Dell announced continued all-in support across its storage products for NVMe/TCP, a protocol that delivers non-volatile memory express (NVMe) over standard ethernet via TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). Because TCP/IP (internet protocol) is standard and present in all data center facilities and/or server rooms, organizations using the PowerStore 2.1 line of storage appliances are well-positioned to maximize flexibility and future-proof their storage architecture investments.

PowerStore fully harnesses VMware's NVMe/TCP support through its SmartFabric Storage Software (SFSS), a feature that enables end-to-end automated storage connectivity for connecting NVMe hosts and targets via regular TCP. Using SFSS, PowerStore storage appliances can leverage adaptive connectivity and secure, policy-driven storage functionality that support both direct discovery and centralized discovery management models, the latter of which uses a Centralized Discovery Controller for notifying hosts of new storage resources.

Container Support

In Dell PowerStore environments, containers span all the PowerStore storage appliances in a cluster and leverage each appliance/node for storage resources. vVols reside inside storage containers, and each cluster functions as a logical grouping of vVols that can be directly mapped to individual appliances inside of the cluster.

VVols can also be migrated between appliances without disrupting vSphere operations, and virtual machines (VMs) or virtual machine disks (VMDKs) can be managed independently. Dell PowerStore is highly flexible in its support of multiple storage containers on a cluster in multi-tenancy use cases. By using the PowerStore Manager, administrators can easily create storage containers on a PowerStore cluster.

Intelligent clustering

Dell designed PowerStore's architecture to both scale-out as well as scale-up with the enterprise's needs. For example, three additional PowerStore appliances can be combined with an initial appliance to create a four-appliance cluster. For scaling out, Dell PowerStore's storage cluster supports additional appliances in the same family (e.g., PowerStore X or T) for maximum deployment flexibility.

Other notable intelligent clustering features include:

  • Automatic primary appliance selection

  • Cluster management via REST API: create cluster, appliance space evacuation and more

  • Online vVol migration

  • vVol VM host visibility

  • PowerStore Manager displays cluster time

  • PowerStore X multi appliance clustering with online vVol migration

  • PowerStore X VMFS Support

Dell Technologies PowerStore Appliance options

Compared to previous releases, Dell Technologies' PowerStore 2.1 offers substantial improvements in the user interface, as well as an emphasis on metrics for more simplified and intuitive management. For example, critical storage array metrics provide administrators with the necessary insights for ensuring reliability, predictable performance, and overall, more efficient provisioning efforts.

Within the PowerStore 2.1 suite, Dell provides enterprises with several appliance options for moving towards a more data-centric, intelligent and adaptable infrastructure, with various storage applications capable of supporting high availability.

Selecting the Right Option: PowerStore T, X and 500 Models

The Dell Technologies PowerStore T model appliances are dual controller systems that provide enterprises with Block and File services and vVol data, with the software stack running directly on the system. The X model leverages the same hardware as the T model and serves block services, as well as a system-installed hypervisor (VMware ESXi); this enables the deployment of VMs and applications next to the storage controller code, directly on the PowerStore appliance hardware.

Last but not least, the PowerStore 500T -- Dell's entry-level solution in this category -- offers scalable, highly adaptable all-flash storage in a more cost-effective offering. As opposed to a dual socket architecture, the PowerStore 500T utilizes a single socket for supporting block, file, and vVols workloads; additionally, expansion is enabled through clustering only (up to 4 appliances); AppsON is currently not supported.

In short, enterprises looking to deploy the Dell Technologies PowerStore appliances will be well-equipped in supporting both traditional and modern data centers moving forward. To this end, the new line of the Dell Technologies PowerStore 2.1 appliances offers a range of options for organizations looking to augment, scale-out, or enhance their mid-range storage array deployments.

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