In 2020, Dell created an entirely new storage paradigm with the launch of PowerStore, our most innovative platform in years. PowerStore is built from the ground up on the latest technologies, but it also leverages decades of storage development expertise across multiple product lines – and decades of first-hand customer knowledge based on our ubiquitous end-to-end data center presence.

Data-centric, Intelligent and Adaptable, PowerStore is a complete game-changer that helps businesses innovate and thrive in an unpredictable and rapidly changing world.

From NVMe performance, scale-UP and scale-OUT capability, intelligent data reduction and programmatic advantages like Anytime Upgrade, PowerStore is nothing short of transformational. Perhaps most importantly, PowerStore introduced the unique AppsON capability. PowerStore is the only purpose-built array with a built-in VMware hypervisor that lets you run apps directly on the appliance, enabling unprecedented workload mobility and opening worlds of new possibilities for IT.

It’s a highly differentiated, yet practical solution. And it’s disrupting the storage industry in a very good way.


In less than a year, customers, partners, and the market are embracing PowerStore’s revolutionary architecture, automation capabilities and next generation storage media. You’ve no doubt seen some of the dozens of positive reviews in industry publications from Block and Files to StorageReview to TechTarget.  

PowerStore has already won TWO Product of the Year awards!  We’re especially proud to have our innovation recognized by CRN, the premiere publication for our technology partners, who have a very keen sense for what customers need to be successful.  

Customer adoption is growing exponentially – and it’s not just the numbers, it’s the diversity of industries and solutions we’re seeing it, in more than 60 countries 

But the main test is how it performs for customers in deployments – and here the response has been overwhelming: PowerStore meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. Some examples include Columbia Southern University, Habib Bank, RealPage, Tech Data, The University of Pisa, and UltraLeap

It’s no wonder PowerStore is currently the fastest-ramping new architectures in Dell history. You may have also heard in our Q4 earnings call that “we saw vast improvement in the midrange, the first time we’ve grown the midrange now in storage, I believe, it’s in nine quarters. We grew midrange by 8% on the back of PowerStore.”

Today, April 20th 2021, we’re bringing several impressive software and hardware additions to market, which we’re excited to talk to you about today. 

Just as impressive as these updates is that in many instances, the team bringing these updates to life had to meet just as we are today – over Zoom, remotely, while balancing life and work. Meetings during snowstorms, power outages, you name it. 


We’ve definitely not been resting on our laurels for the past 12 months, and PowerStore has been steadily advancing via several code releases.

Today, I’m excited to talk to about the specifics or our April 2021 announcement that takes this already-disruptive technology to the next level with more enterprise capabilities, advancing intelligence and a new cost-effective entry point.


To level-set what I’m going to share, it’s important to understand that this announcement covers two distinct topics.

First, we’re announcing a significant update to our PowerStoreOS software that benefits ALL PowerStore models – as well as both new and existing customers. This non-disruptive software-only update brings increased levels of performance and intelligence to every currently deployed PowerStore, and of course becomes the baseline for new products shipping from the factory.

Second, we’re announcing PowerStore 500, our new entry point for the platform. The new model is a full member of the PowerStore family, but it’s offered at a significantly lower cost, eliminating barriers to entry for the overall platform, and making PowerStore even more attractive for mid-size business and diverse edge solutions.


Here are the product updates we’re about to cover – grouped according to values they provide customers

The PowerStoreOS 2.0 software update brings more enterprise innovation to the platform.

  • Specifically: increased performance and scale
  • And it also evolves our already-intelligent platform to provide even deeper cost savings and greater resiliency.

PLUS, we’re reducing costs in a different way with our new PowerStore 500 hardware model, which makes the many advantages of PowerStore accessible to more businesses, and cost-effective for more solutions.

We’ll talk about each of these bullets in detail coming right up. Let’s start with the new enterprise capabilities.


OK, this one’s a lot of fun…because I get to deliver some great news for existing customers. PowerStoreOS 2.0 delivers a large performance increase for every model in the family.

How big? Real-world workloads (70/30 read/write mix) can experience up to a 25% IOPS boost. The improvement was largely due to write improvements, which saw up to a 65% increase!

The important thing to remember here is that this benefit comes from a simple SW update, non-disruptive, and completely free of charge for existing customers. And again, it becomes the baseline performance for new products shipping from the factory.

[How could this benefit your workloads? Whatever your metric for success is, would a boost like this help you accomplish goals more efficiently? That’s what we’re focused on at Dell – and it’s a great example of how our non-stop innovation provides ongoing advantages for our customers.

This latest performance increase was the result of a number of optimizations within the data path and overall architectural improvements.  It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enhancing the capabilities of the PowerStore platform for our customers.


PowerStore was built from the ground up for modern storage media – and customers have been very enthusiastic about the platform’s low latency NVMe performance – up to 7X faster than previous Unity XT platform. In the initial release, NVMe was used within the appliance, while over the network, the transport mechanism was standard SCSI protocol.

PowerStoreOS 2.0 now extends NVMe benefits across the network with NVMe-over-Fibre Channel support. NVMe over fabric is much more efficient, parallel and scalable than SCSI. It’s designed to make an external networked array feel like direct attached storage to hosts.

But the best thing about this release is how easy it is to activate the new capability.

It’s a simple software update – and if your appliance already has 32Gb Fibre Channel IO modules, you won’t need any additional PowerStore hardware.

Many customers won’t need to swap out network gear either. If you have 32G-capable switches and HBAs, there’s a good chance you can simply activate the new capability in software, transforming your existing infrastructure. Any hosts that support NVMe can now use that protocol to talk to PowerStore, while SCSI hosts continue as if nothing changed. PowerStore and the network itself can handle both protocols.

Whether or not you have immediate plans for NVMe-over-FC, this capability shows the flexibility and investment protection PowerStore provides. As Dell continues to lead the adoption of new technologies, your roadmap is in good hands with the adaptable PowerStore platform.

With OS 2.0, customers can now add IO Modules to empty slots on an already-configured cluster.

This functionality is not available for mezzanine card slots.

  • Additional NVMe network protocols will be supported in future
  • Quick setup via PowerStore Manager, CLI, or Rest API
  • Volumes with NVMe host still support all PowerStore services, such as intelligent clusters, etc.
  • NVMe-FC is supported on 32G/16G FC switches running Brocade FOS 8.1.0 or later and Cisco NX-OS 8.1(1) or later


Our initial PowerStore release revolutionized storage by delivering the
only purpose-built array with a built-in VMware hypervisor
. AppsON gave you the ability to run VMs and applications directly on the appliance, providing

   
 

  • low latency performance,
  • dramatic footprint consolidation and
  • unprecedented mobility with the rest of your VMware environment.

In the first release, this capability was limited to a single appliance.

With our latest software update, we’re adding the ability to cluster multiple PowerStore X model appliances.You now get the same intelligent scale-out capabilities with AppsON as you do with our PowerStore T models.

  • No longer have to choose between two of PowerStore’s best features! (clustering and AppsON)
  • You can now move your AppsON workloads freely within an intelligent PowerStore cluster.

More nodes equals more capacity of course – but it also gives you more aggregate compute power, plus the ability to rebalance X model appliances as your needs change. Management couldn’t be simpler. Clustering gives you a single stretched vVol container spanning appliances, presenting a single pool of storage that’s available to all nodes. You can really treat your PowerStore cluster just like any other VMware hosting environment.

This release makes AppsON even more practical and beneficial for a diversity of solutions.

  • From storage-intensive applications at the edge, like manufacturing IoT or on-site healthcare analytics leveraging MongoDB and other applications…
  • to Big Data analytics, were we have validated solutions using PowerStore’s Kubernetes integration…
  • or as a complement to a HCI environment like VxRail, where shared VMware affinity provides end-to-end operational consistency

IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL BENEFIT OF OS 2.0 UPDATE: AppsON: VMFS support: By default, AppsON virtual machines leverage PowerStore’s efficient vVol implementation. Although it is still recommended to use vVols due to its simple nature, optimizations, and integration within the PowerStore UI,  starting with PowerStoreOS 2.0, PowerStore X model appliances also support VMFS Datastores for the storage of Virtual Machines within AppsON by allowing the mapping of block volumes to PowerStore’s internal ESXi hosts via PowerStore’s REST API and/or CLI.

  • Since they now support clustering, PowerStore X models are eligible for Scale-out upgrades within Anytime Upgrade Select
  • Big Data validated solutions

Reference architecture: https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-us/collaterals/unauth/white-papers/products/storage/h18231-dell-emc-powerstore-sql-server-big-data-clusters.pdf

Medical informatics solution brief (patient monitoring application at the edge): https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-in/collaterals/unauth/briefs-handouts/products/storage/h18370-powerstore-mic-sickbay.pdf


One of several ways we’ve evolved the intelligence of the PowerStore platform is through a series of enhancements to our Intelligent Data Reduction.

From the start, PowerStore data reduction has always been completely hands-free and automated. This “always on” nature, combined with hardware-based compression and the overall efficiency of the platform helps us guarantee at least a 4:1 average DRR for our customers.

  • Unlike competitors, we do not require a pre-assessment of data types, etc. – it’s really as simple as it sounds: 4:1 average data reduction, guaranteed.

With our PowerStoreOS 2.0 update, this capability gets even smarter.

Now optimizes capacity AND performance at the same time, automatically of course…

Under periods of extreme IO demand, PowerStore’s default inline dedupe will be temporarily deferred to reduce CPU utilization, dynamically prioritizing workload IO.

This “turbo mode” gives the system up to a 20% IOPS boost, keeping performance consistently high, even under the worst conditions.

The system tracks any “skipped blocks” and will always return to recover the space savings with post-process DR, so there’s absolutely ZERO impact on overall reduction ratios or the 4:1 guarantee.

Best of all, the system remains full automated, so there’s nothing to manage.

As with many other PowerStore features, Intelligent Data Reduction works proactively in the background on your behalf, providing the best combination of data reduction, write minimization and performance under any circumstance.

With this software update, we’re also increasing the size of our dedupe cache and making it dynamic, based on configured user capacity. Because we can keep more “dedupe fingerprints” memory, this will improve cost savings across the dual nodes of the appliance, increasing overall DRRs for many customers, depending on their workloads. (Since this benefit is workload dependent, guaranteed average remains 4:1.)

 
 


We’ve also enhanced our Dynamic Resiliency Engine (DRE) technology, adding a dual parity option to give customers additional protection for mission-critical data within the appliance.

Our 100% software-based redundancy and sparing method has always provided a more efficient and automated way to protect data within your array – and now customers with strict dual-parity requirements can benefit as well.

DRE is a smarter approach to enterprise-class availability, protecting against simultaneous multi-drive failures while intelligently managing both performance and efficiency.

  • It gives you more flexibility with up to 98% less management effort compared to traditional RAID
  • Automates all the complex process associated with drive configuration, redundancy and sparing.
  • You can add drives one-at-a-time and mix drives sizes to meet cost goals
  • Everything’s handled in by intelligent software, right down to replenishing spare capacity if a drive fails, so you never have a lapse in protection levels.

PowerStore gives you superior resiliency at a lower cost.


Dell is also driving the adoption of Storage Class Memory (SCM). With this release, we’re adding new SCM intelligence and deployment flexibility to PowerStore.

Unlike competing solutions, PowerStore has always supported SCM for persistent storage – not just for caching. Our original release allowed the entire base chassis to be populated with SCM drives, with support for 375GB, 750GB options – and now we’re adding 1.5TB Optane drives. That’s a lot of high-performing SCM horsepower! But we’re not stopping there.

PowerStore now gains the ability to differentiate between SCM and standard NVMe drives in the same chassis – and to leverage the higher-performing SCM to increase the speed of metadata access, while user data continues to go to NVMe drives.

Metadata serves an important role in overall performance. Once data is out of the primary cache, faster metadata reads give workloads quicker access to the data they need. We’ve seen as much as a 15% improvement in workload latency.

This capability is particularly ideal for active data sets where data moves out of cache quickly. For many customers, the payoff will be worth the relatively modest investment for this automated, hands-free feature. Again, PowerStore is leading the practical adoption of next-gen technology.


CloudIQ Infrastructure Insights enable you to Reduce Risk, Plan Ahead and Improve Productivity.

CloudIQ combines machine intelligence and human intelligence, enabling algorithms to be continuously updated leveraging Dell EMC product and subject matter expertise, combined with industry best practices to address the most potentially impactful issues. This provides IT administrators with intel they need to take quick action and more efficiently manage their Dell EMC infrastructure.

With CloudIQ’s proactive monitoring and predictive analytics Customers benefit from Faster time to insights.

CloudIQ aids in proactive issue avoidance by identifying critical signatures, at risk customer arrays that may ultimately lead to a Data Unavailability, ultimately saving customers money from and outage or data loss.


We are pleased to announce the latest addition to the PowerStore family — the PowerStore 500T This new model makes the overall platform more accessible by lowering the entry price point. More customers than ever before can now experience the PowerStore advantage.

PowerStore 500 inherits all the great technology we included with last year’s original release. Same intelligent clustering capability, NVMe and SCM support, IO options, container-based architecture and ecosystem integrations — as well as programmatic advantages like our 4:1 data reduction guarantee and Anytime Upgrade program.

500T uses the Intel Cascade Lake processor, so performance is excellent (we’ll look at that in a moment), but it’s the price that might really surprise you, And with Dell Financial Services’ latest promotion, you can own a PowerStore for less than $700/month flexible finance charge.

It’s an incredible amount of enterprise-class storage capability for the price.


In its initial release, PowerStore 500 does not support scale-UP expansion, but at 1.2PB
effective capacity in the 2U base chassis, it provides more than enough space for typical customers at this price point. As with every PowerStore model, you can expand one drive at a time – with all parity and sparing configuration handled automatically by our DRE technology.

And the good news is – the 500 does support scale-OUT. You can connect up to three additional 500 models for a very affordable cluster with all of PowerStore’s advanced data mobility and load balancing capabilities. And for even larger configurations – up to almost 10PB effective capacity – you can mix and match other PowerStore T models. This gives you flexibility and headroom to add not only scale, but also the performance of higher models as your needs evolve over time.

PowerStore 500 also scales over distance, thanks to it’s support for PowerStore metro node. This gives you synchronous replication and mobility over metro distances, and allows the affordable 500 to participate in distributed enterprise solutions, disaster recovery scenarios and more.


As I said, PowerStore 500 offers excellent performance for such an affordable appliance. To put it in perspective, here are our recent test results for actual VDI and SQL workloads.


PowerStore 500 is a great fit for standalone or edge deployments in virtually every industry.

From modern retail to healthcare, manufacturing, education and more, this offering is ideal for any solution the requires an optimized combination of low cost, high performance, compact design and effortless automation.

We built the 500 for one purpose – to help more businesses transform their infrastructure with PowerStore. We fully anticipate a wave of new IT solutions as customers find creative ways to take advantage of this offering.

We hope it spurs some ideas for you!


So that’s our Q1 release – really just the latest in a series of releases we’ve already executed in the first 12 months of PowerStore alone. It joins all the other work we’ve been doing this year – and it shows the incredible momentum of this platform.

The innovations just keep coming, and we’re not letting up.

  • From a major performance boost for every model…
  • To adding scale-out capability to AppsON, already the most innovative development in storage…
  • To a new cost-effective entry point that makes PowerStore accessible to more businesses…
  • Plus all the other innovations we’ve just discussed…

These new advantages dramatically increase the scope and impact of PowerStore on the entire industry – and on your business. Because at the end of the day, the momentum we’re most focused on is yours. 2020 may have felt like a step back – but we want you to know we didn’t slow down, and we remained laser focused on your success.

PowerStore has changed storage forever – and it WILL shape the outlook of the coming data decade. As the lights come back on all over the world, we know PowerStore can make your business more efficient, resilient and agile – so you’re ready to thrive in a new and very exciting world.

In the next posts, we will go deeper, into the PowerStore 2.0 release features. For now, you can start reading the initial, external posts that I saw about the 2.0 release




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