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Dell is pushing its EqualLogic storage products into the next
generation with the release of the EqualLogic PS6100 and PS4100 Series, both of
were designed to provide greater capacity and better performance than the
previous generation of the storage products.

The
PS4100 Series is an extension of the PS4000 Series and was developed with small
and medium businesses (SMBs) and remote offices in mind. The PS4100 Series can
support up to 36TB in a single array. The PS6100 extends the PS6000 Series for
mid-sized customers and is capable of supporting up to 72TB in a single array
and 1.2PB in a single group.

The
PS4100 comes in 2U 24-drive and 12-drive configurations, and it’s the first
time Dell has brought an EqualLogic product to market with a sub-$10,000 price
tag. With the PS6100, Dell is offering 2U 24-drive and a 4U 24-drive chassis
configuration. The 4U version will support high-capacity drives. The PS6100
Series will also support 400GB SSD drives.

“This
is the first major refresh of hardware since the acquisition, and these are the
platforms that I believe will be the foundation for the growth we expect in the
coming years,” said Travis Vigil, executive director of Dell Storage.

Both
the PS4100 and PS6100 also support 2.5-inch drives for greater density, as well
as for more efficient power and cooling, Vigil said.

According
to Vigil, Dell is putting plenty of focus around storage and expects its
storage business to continue its rapid growth. He noted that since Dell
completed its acquisition of EqualLogic in January 2008, it has grown the EqualLogic
installed base by eight times. Dell’s expectation is that number will double in
the next few years.

The
announcement also marks an expanded strategic partnership between Dell and
VMware a week before the latter’s annual VMworld conference. The most recent
release of the EqualLogic firmware (version 5.1, released in July) features a
new provisioning awareness for VMware vSphere to speed up recovery time and
mitigate the risk of potential data loss. With vSphere 5 on the horizon, Dell
is also introducing VMware-specific enhancements to EqualLogic, Compellent and
PowerVault storage products, including Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools
for VMware 3.1, which includes better storage visibility and datastore
management in addition to improved performance and availability; Dell
Compellent Storage Replication Adapter for VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager
5, which supports automated failback from disaster event and new workflows for
planned migrations and downtime; and Dell PowerVault Integration with VMware
vSphere 5, which enables customers to manage multiple PowerVault MD3200 and
MD3600 storage arrays from a single vCenter Server instance.

One
thing that hasn’t changed in the latest EqualLogic products is Dell’s
all-inclusive licensing model, so customers will get free access to the new
tools and firmware release, which Vigil noted as a way for Dell channel
partners to differentiate themselves from the competition.

“Our
goal is to give them enterprise storage capabilities, but make it so easy that
an IT generalist can manage these arrays,” he said.

One
of the things Steve Bishop, CTO of Dell partner VeriStor, likes about the
EqualLogic platform is the licensing model, but he noted he’s also impressed
with the performance and reliability of the hardware. VeriStor currently
manages more than 400 EqualLogic systems in the field right now.

“We’ve
been testing a 6100 here for the last two or three months, and it’s performed
flawlessly,” Bishop said.