Dell Unveils EqualLogic iSCSI Storage For Virtualized Servers

The PS5000 Series iSCSI array is aimed at midsize companies running servers in a virtualized environment within a data center.
Dell on Monday introduced an Internet-based storage area network array that's the first product from the computer maker's $1.4 billion acquisition of EqualLogic.

The PS5000 Series iSCSI array is aimed at midsize companies running servers in a virtualized environment within a data center. The new product, unveiled at a news conference in San Francisco, has been tailored to provide storage for such environments.

The PS5000, which comes in three models, leverages EqualLogic's modular architecture that enables customers to easily add more hardware as their storage requirements grow. For managing storage, EqualLogic incorporates virtualization technology that provides a relatively simple way to slice and dice disk arrays among applications running on virtualized servers.

The PS5000 Series is a chassis of 16 bays, each capable of holding a 1 TB drive for a total of 16 TB of storage. The system can be scaled out to 192 TB, providing storage for business systems with as many as 60,000 high-transaction users, Dell said.

Dell calls the new product an "intelligent storage array," because it includes SAN configuration features and capabilities that "sense network topology, automatically builds RAID sets, and conducts system health checks," Dell said. The company claims a PS5000 system can often be installed and configured in less than an hour.

The difference in the three models of the PS5000 Series is in the speed of the disk drives. The least-expensive PS5000E uses SATA hard disk drives, the PS5000X uses 10,000-RPM SAS hot-pluggable drives, and the PS5000XV uses 15,000-RPM SAS drives.

Pricing for the PS5000 Series starts at $19,000.

In buying EqualLogic, Dell acquired technology that fit squarely into the small and medium-sized enterprise market, Dell's sweet spot in storage, experts say. Traditionally, SANs have been built mostly around Fibre Channel, a protocol used in equipment that's unaffordable for smaller companies. Because iSCSI SANs are based on the Internet Protocol, the equipment is less expensive and easier to manage and maintain.

The benefits of an iSCSI SAN are expected to drive adoption. Market researcher IDC forecasts double-digit growth through 2010, when the market is expected to top $5.1 billion.

Network Appliance leads the market, followed by EMC, which is a Dell partner in storage hardware sold to large corporations. As a pure-play vendor, EqualLogic was seen as an up-and-comer, gathering more than 3,200 customers since launching its first products in June 2003.

Dell isn't new to the iSCSI storage market. Last year, the company launched the PowerVault MD3000i, which was aimed at cost-conscious businesses that wanted to move from direct-attached storage to a centralized strategy using iSCSI.

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