Optimizing Efficiency for the Multi-Cloud World

Dell Technologies World 2019 Primary Storage Updates

The storage strategy for the modern enterprise, at its core, centers on getting the right data to the right user at the right time. However, this is a difficult task that requires the enterprise to leverage multiple on and off-premises clouds. Leveraging multiple clouds requires maximum utilization of infrastructure resources including CPUs, memory, storage performance and storage capacity. Maximum resource utilization also requires a more intelligent, analytics and machine learning-driven approach to management to enable storage managers to oversee diverse storage ecosystems as efficiently as possible.

Dell EMC Unity Updates

Dell EMC has launched the next generation of its Unity mid-range storage offering, Unity XT, which is designed to accelerate performance, simplify management, boost system efficiencies, and better support a multi-cloud architecture. Notably, Unity XT may be upgraded non-disruptively to NVMe flash. Within the controller, there are eight slots that are NVMe capable, which can be enabled through a non-disruptive software upgrade. According to Dell EMC, Unity XT provides up to twice the IOPS and 75% lower latency than previous generation Unity systems. Putting this into the context of a real-world workload, this translates into 28% more transactions per second for Microsoft SQL Server databases.

Alongside faster performance, Unity XT applies inline deduplication and compression to achieve, according to Dell EMC, up to five to one data reduction rates (with three to one data reduction rates guaranteed), and 85% increase in usable system capacity (255 terabytes). To further improve utilization, it is deployed in an active-active dual controller configuration. A reduced storage system footprint is complemented by native support for block and file access protocols as well as VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols), which helps to streamline management.

Dell EMC Isilon Updates

Dell EMC also introduced a number of enhancements to its Isilon scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) array architecture, to better enable enterprises to handle the demands of modern file workloads that require very rapid processing of petabytes (PB) of unstructured data, with limited IT headcount and with maximum infrastructure efficiency. The updated Isilon OneFS software can scale up to 252 nodes, for a total of 58 PB of capacity – an equivalent of 75% more scalable than its predecessor. At the same time, it maintains an aggregate throughput of 945 GB/s per cluster. Because Isilon OneFS enables a single, unified file system across the entire cluster, divergent workloads including video editing, analytics and artificial intelligence can be commonly supported. Nodes within the cluster can be mixed and matched according to various workload requirements. For those nodes, Dell EMC has introduced a new architecture that combines the deeper chassis of capacity-oriented archive nodes with the performance characteristics of its hybrid nodes, to enable optimization of data center floorspace. The new nodes have 800 TB of capacity and still provide 6.4 GB/s throughput, in a 4U chassis.

Isilon can tier data from on-premises to the cloud for archival use cases through its CloudPools technology. Alibaba Cloud and the AWS C2S federal-specific cloud are now supported, joining AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Dell EMC’s on-premises object storage solution, its Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) appliances. Dell EMC has also enhanced authentication, role-based access control, and encryption of data in flight (which complements encryption for data at rest that Isilon already provided).

Dell EMC Cloud Primary Storage Updates

Alongside the new and updated systems, Dell Technologies launched a number of capabilities to help customers to build out integrated hybrid cloud environments, and to adopt a cloud operating model in terms of how they procure and pay for their primary storage and data protection technologies.

Notably, Dell EMC’s new Cloud Storage Services will enable a number of Dell EMC solutions including Unity, Isilon and Data Domain data protection appliances to be deployed as a software-defined asset in the customer’s choice of public cloud. The first offering, which will be in early release in the summer of 2019, enables the Isilon file system to be deployed on the Google Cloud Platform, to bring greater elasticity and a pay-as-you-go approach to traditional scale-out file workloads such as analytics and high-performance computing.

Dell EMC has also launched another version of its Cloud Storage Services that enables the Dell EMC storage technology to be purchased as-a-service through a managed service provider (MSP) partner, and then to be connected directly to the public cloud compute of the customer’s choice. Through this approach, data is stored in a Dell EMC storage array at the MSP’s data center and is then replicated to the public cloud. Failover and failback are automated through integration with VMware’s cloud management software. The primary use cases for this service include disaster recovery and secondary business processes such as test and development, for which the enterprise does not want the hassle and expense of owning and managing an entire separate data center. It enables the customer to consume compute cycles only as they are used, but at the same time retaining the control and performance of dedicated private cloud storage. Additionally, data does not need to be converted to a new format, as it may need to be if it were migrated to the public cloud. Meanwhile, it facilitates not only data consistency, but also application consistency, during the failover and failback processes.

Additionally, Dell EMC Unity and PowerMax have been validated for integration with the VMware Cloud Foundation cloud automation and operations software platform, and will be integrated into the new Dell Technologies Cloud solution that provides consistent infrastructure and operations for multi-cloud environments as well as introducing a new managed “data center-as-a-service” offering. A deeper dive on the Dell Technologies Cloud is available in a previous Storage Switzerland briefing note.

Dell EMC CloudIQ and ClarityNow

Dell EMC is also using the cloud to deliver richer and more predictive insights to help customers more effectively monitor and manage their data centers, in the form of its CloudIQ software-as-a-service application. CloudIQ provides machine learning-driven insights and predictive modeling into areas such as capacity utilization and workload performance. IT professionals can use CloudIQ to identify workloads that might be hogging resources, to identify problems before they impact the application, and to accelerate time-to-resolution of any issues that have impacted the production environment. It also can help to improve capacity forecasting. Where previously CloudIQ supported only Dell EMC’s Unity, SC Series, XtremIO, VMAX, and PowerMax storage arrays, now it has been expanded to support VMware virtualization and Dell EMC Connectrix fibre channel networking platforms. By the end of the year, it is scheduled to also support Isilon scale-out NAS and PowerVault arrays.

StorageSwiss Take

Dell EMC’s primary storage updates reflect that the vendor understands that a smart balance of performance and capacity utilization, especially when it comes to integrating NVMe into the environment and to efficiently supporting modern file workloads, is required against today’s backdrop of constant data growth and performance-hungry applications. Complementing its focus on enabling a more efficient storage footprint, technologies like CloudIQ stand to meet the need for fewer storage professionals to oversee a larger and more diverse ecosystem of technologies. The addition of support for VMware and Connectrix environments reflect that Dell EMC is working to enable a broader purview outside of the storage environment specifically, which is important when it comes to optimizing and troubleshooting issues with application performance.

The launch of the Cloud Storage Services and the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform are arguably Dell EMC’s most substantial step forward to making its technologies available as-a-service, and also enabling customers to better integrate and bridge multi-cloud environments. It has a robust ecosystem of partners and, in VMware, the software fabric that is needed for intelligent tiering of data and usage of elastic compute to optimize various cost, performance and security requirements.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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