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Dell EMC PowerStore – Product Brief

Last updated September 29th, 2021 for NVMe over TCP support. 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!


The Dell EMC PowerStore system is the primary midrange storage system offering from Dell Technologies alongside additional midrange offerings including Unity XT, 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 midrange appliances with two model types and a single entry-level appliance. The T models are an offering where the PowerStore software PowerStoreOS is deployed on purpose-built hardware natively. The X models have the PowerStoreOS deployed on an instance of VMware ESXi on the purpose-built hardware. The PowerStore 500 is an entry level PowerStore option that is available as a T model only and can be clustered with other T models. 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. SCM devices can be used as storage or mixed with flash devices for metadata tiering. 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, or 25 devices for the 500 model. 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.

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 Technologies, the PowerStore system can scale out from a dual controller (controller pair) system to four pairs (for a total of eight controllers) for either the T or X models, however all appliances in the cluster must be of the same T or X model type.

The controller pairs 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 Dell EMC CloudIQ. CloudIQ performs health checks and schedules proactive maintenance based on the analytics. Active/active stretched clusters can be achieved with the use of an additional Dell EMC appliance called PowerStore Metro Node.

In April 2021, Dell added NVMe over Fabric support to PowerStore with NVMe/FC. NVMe/TCP was additionally added later in 2021.

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 midrange platforms.

Inline compression and deduplication are always on for all storage pools. As part of the Future Proof program, Dell 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.

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