Research Library

Dell EMC PowerStore – Product Brief

Published May 5th, 2020. Concise 8-page overview of Dell EMC PowerStore. Covers usage cases, potential, system specifications, & strengths/concerns commentary. Product Brief includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!

Overview

The Dell EMC PowerStore system is the primary midrange storage system offering from Dell EMC that will eventually replace Unity, XtremIO, and SC systems.  PowerStore represents a new offering with many internal elements taken from other product offerings and refactored into the container-based PowerStoreOS.  There are five individual appliances and two model types.  The model T is an offering where the PowerStore software PowerStoreOS is deployed on purpose-built hardware natively.  The model X has the PowerStoreOS deployed on an instance of VMware ESXi on the purpose-built hardware.  The different appliances vary primarily in the processor types and the amount of cache memory.  PowerStore is an all-solid state storage technology system supporting both flash and SCM Optane devices.  As a logical replacement for many earlier systems, the advanced features of PowerStore are expected to be the summation of the other products.  The base controller can hold up to 21 NVMe protocol devices.  Additional enclosures can be added with SAS connectivity.

In addition to the expected features, PowerStore X models include the option to include VMware ESXi with support for running applications and using vMotion to and from the storage system to VxRAIL and other ESXi servers. The feature is called AppsON and works with vRealize and VMware Cloud Foundation. The VMware hypervisor option is an additional charge.

PowerStore is a unified storage system supporting block and file access natively for the T models.  The X models do not support NAS functionality.  Like the Unity XT system, PowerStore uses a SuSE Linux kernel and supports Docker containers.  The filesystem software supports multiple NAS servers.  PowerStore Manager is the element manager as a web GUI, implemented with HTML5.

Unlike earlier midrange offerings from Dell EMC, the PowerStore system can scale out from a dual controller (controller pair) system to four pairs (for a total of eight controllers) with the T models.  The X models do not support scale out.  The controller pair are active-active with both processing commands and transferring data.  Scaling is accomplished by adding node pairs.  Data can be redistributed across the added node pairs.  Devices attached to the node pairs are not shared to other node pairs and host access is to the pair where the data is stored.

Packaged in a 2U enclosure, the purpose-built hardware contains dual controllers.  Storage capacity can scale up with addition of up to three additional enclosures. Software features are included in the base price and include snapshots, asynchronous file and asynchronous block remote replication, VVOLs and VASA support.  Telemetry data is collected and analyzed with a SaaS product called CloudIQ.  CloudIQ performs health checks and schedules proactive maintenance based on the analytics.

Synchronous replication will be available in a future release. Also projected for a future release is support for NVMe over Fabric.  Running PowerStoreOS in a public cloud is also planned in a future release.

The SSDs in the Dell EMC PowerStore have a lifetime warranty as long as a maintenance contract is in place. In addition, the maintenance price is guaranteed to not be increased from the initial purchase. Also offered with PowerStore is the Anytime Upgrade Program where, as an additional charge to the ProSupport level, a customer can upgrade the controllers to the latest level at any time and can get a discount when purchasing an additional controller pair for scaling out.  There is no requirement to wait for three years to take advantage of the controller upgrade program.

Internal software in PowerStoreOS provides a migration feature from other Dell EMC midrange platforms.

Inline compression and deduplication are always on for all storage pools.  As part of the Future Proof program, Dell EMC guarantees a 4:1 data reduction with exception for images and other non-compressible data.  For file operations, policy-based file tiering to clouds is included.

Usage

The Dell EMC PowerStore system is targeted for usage in the mid-tier enterprise environments that need either a SAN block storage solution, a NAS system or both.  The storage system has many advanced features and capabilities and will be the leading midrange storage system for Dell.

  • Characteristics
    • Performance – Dell EMC has quoted performance numbers of an all-NVMe system as approximately 218K IOPs for a specific Dell EMC workload.
    • Availability – With two storage processor nodes configured, PowerStore has the high availability characteristic including failover and failback required of a mid-tier system.
    • Replication for BC/DR – Asynchronous block remote replication is available with synchronous available in a future release.
  • Applications
    • PowerStore is targeted at applications that use block I/O, file I/O, or both in a combined system.
    • The features of snapshot and remote replication give customers high-end system capabilities in a product targeted at the mid-level with the sophisticated implementation offered by Dell EMC. The performance and features allow applications to be deployed in a high availability environment.
  • System environments
    • PowerStore is a block storage system accessed using Fibre Channel and iSCSI with standard iSCSI drivers on host systems and a NAS system with NFS and CIFS support. The hardware supports NVMeoF which is not yet available.
  • Deployment and Administration
    • PowerStore has been targeted for installation and management by the IT generalist and includes wizards and quick start configurations to allow for simple deployments.
    • The management is through PowerStore Manager.
    • Dell EMC has released vSphere plug-ins in addition to other VMware support. VAAI, VVOLs and VASA are also supported.

Evaluator Group EvaluScale™: Dell EMC PowerStore – SAN Storage

Evaluator Group product review methodology “EvaluScale” assesses each product within a specific technology area.  The definitions of the criteria and explanations of how products are reviewed can be found in the Evaluator Series Evaluation Guide. Download the product brief now to view the Evaluscale for this product.

Evaluator Group Opinion: Differentiating elements for Dell EMC PowerStore

Dell EMC PowerStore is a unified SAN and NAS system where the file serving function is integral to the system and not an additional, “bolt-on” controller.  This allows for a lower hardware price and usually a better, integrated management experience.  The maturity of the NAS implementation includes a full spectrum of file protocols, more than is usual in the mid-tier and entry markets.  A full suite of advanced features is also available with the exception of tiering of LUNs to clouds/object storage although file-based tiering does support S3, Azure, and VirtuStream targets.

PowerStore is a scale-out system, which allows for increasing performance in parallel with capacity, and PowerStore can scale to four node pairs (eight controllers).  This is new for Dell EMC and overcomes a deficiency of earlier midrange products.  As the primary midrange product for Dell EMC rather than multiple, dissimilar product offerings previously, PowerStore will get the focus and development resources necessary to be a competitive product.


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