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Dell EMC Bolsters Its PowerMax Storage with Storage Class Memory

By integrating faster storage class memory (SCM), users gain vastly increased performance.

Todd R. Weiss

September 10, 2019

4 Min Read
Data storage
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Dell EMC has bolstered its PowerMax storage systems with the inclusion of faster dual port Intel Optane storage class memory (SCM) solid state drives that deliver persistent storage required for mission-critical storage needs.

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Dell EMC’s Caitlin Gordon

The Dell EMC PowerMax storage systems, which debuted in 2018, are the first systems to market with the Intel Optane SSDs and SCM, Caitlin Gordon, the company’s vice president of product marketing, told Channel Futures. Dell EMC worked with Intel to develop the dual port Optane SSDs, she said.

PowerMax also gets other updates, including the availability of NVMe-over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) in all PowerMax arrays and the inclusion of a built-in machine learning engine that leverages predictive analytics and pattern recognition to automatically place data on the correct media type (SCM or Flash) based on its IO profile.

Other improvements include the ability to automate infrastructure operations and DevOps workflows using PowerMax, and the ability to use pre-built Ansible modules to allow users to create playbooks for storage provisioning, snapshots and data management workflows. PowerMax can also be used with a new Container Storage Interface (CSI) plug-in, which provisions and manages storage for workloads running on Kubernetes, and with the VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) plug-in, which allows customers to develop complete automation routines including provisioning, data protection and host operations.

The improvements provide increased performance for PowerMax systems users, according to Dell, including up to 15M IOPS, up to 350GB/sec bandwidth and up to 50% better response times.

In addition, the PowerMax arrays are the first to be validated with VMware Cloud foundation for using Fibre Channel as primary storage, according to Dell EMC. This gives customers deployment flexibility for workloads that have unique external storage-specific requirements including independent capacity and advanced features such as integrated data protection.

The bolstered PowerMax systems come now because conversations with customers have shown that their needs for faster and more powerful storage have been continuing to grow over the last three or four years, said Gordon.

“It’s really about changing the way IT operates,” she said. “Customers need systems that can perform more operations simultaneously to allow IT to run more efficiently. What that means for storage is the ability to connect to public cloud, but also the reality that any infrastructure you have can’t be stand-alone. It needs more automated management tools and the ability to manage it as part of the overall management framework and automation strategy.”

For the channel, the improved PowerMax systems will allow channel partners to solve these needs for customers, said Gordon. “This is about investment protection and about having the storage and hardware that will let customers run their data centers today and into the future. Customers are asking for this investment protection and partners are asking how they can have simpler conversation with their customers.”

Scott Sinclair, a storage analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said the PowerMax upgrades will provide significant performance boosts for the channel and end users.

“PowerMax is delivering tremendous performance, claiming up to 50% better response times than…

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Enterprise Strategy Group’s Scott Sinclair

…Dell VMAX systems with SAS-based flash drives,” he said. “The demand for low-latency performance is on the rise and channel partners can be confident that the PowerMax will meet their customer’s demands.”

Sinclair said the work being done to include PowerMax as a Dell Technologies Cloud Validated design is interesting and helpful for customers.

“Hybrid cloud is the de facto IT infrastructure design,” he said. “Getting multiple disparate pieces from multiple providers working is a value proposition for the channel, but it is also labor intensive. But doing much of the upfront validation work with VMware Cloud Foundation, PowerMax can be a core, on-premises piece of a low-risk, high-value hybrid cloud environment that channel customers need.”

The availability of the CSI plugin simplifies persistent storage support for Kubernetes, Sinclair said, which is important because container-based workload adoption is rampant across organizations of all sizes. “While often compared to virtualization, container-based environments generate a different set of demands for the underlying infrastructure. For example, achieving enough overall storage performance is a commonly identified challenge in container-based environments, and PowerMax can help with that.”

The updated PowerMax systems will be available globally starting Sept. 16.

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About the Author(s)

Todd R. Weiss

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist who covers open source and Linux, cloud service providers, cloud computing, virtualization, containers and microservices, mobile devices, security, enterprise applications, enterprise IT, software development and QA, IoT and more. He has worked previously as a staff writer for Computerworld and eWEEK.com, covering a wide variety of IT beats. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies and collecting toy taxis from around the world.

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