Michael Dell talks up EqualLogic and the new PS5000 array

The PS5000 series SAN offers provisioning on the fly through virtualization and thin provisioning

Days after closing its acquisition of iSCSI storage vendor EqualLogic, Dell announced a new series of iSCSI-based storage-area network (SAN) arrays. The Dell EqualLogic PS5000 Series offers both virtualization and thin-provisioning capabilities, allowing storage administrators to grow capacity on the fly.

In an interview, CEO Michael Dell spoke with Computerworld about the EqualLogic acquisition, his company's push upstream into the storage SMB and enterprise market, and how that push would affect Dell's partnership with EMC.

Dell said his company's US$1.4 billion acquisition of EqualLogic, which had about US$68.1 million in sales in 2006, was not based on the storage vendor's current value but on its potential to bring in revenue, given the fast-growing adoption of iSCSI technology.

"IDC has projected that iSCSI will be about 25 per cent of the storage market opportunity in 2011, and that's about US$6 billion in revenues from iSCSI," Dell said. "When we look at EqualLogic's technology, we think it's the best in the industry for everything from high-end, mission-critical iSCSI [needs] to entry-level iSCSI to clustered file systems for large Internet providers."

According to Dell, the coming adoption of 10Gbit/sec. Ethernet will help create a compelling selling point for iSCSI storage and the PS5000 series, which uses the iSCSI protocol to connect servers to back-end SANs and is aimed at simplifying storage installation.

The new Dell EqualLogic PS5000 series array

The PS5000 allows companies with little or no Fibre Channel networking expertise a more easily deployable storage architecture by offering arrays that use existing Ethernet LANs and by offering storage that in many ways self-manages, has on-demand capacity provisioning and is precertified with Dell servers, the company stated in a press release.

The iSCSI protocol is an IP-based specification that allows SCSI commands and data to be carried over Ethernet networks. By using iSCSI instead of Fibre Channel for a server-storage interconnect, companies can avoid installing expensive host bus adapters on servers and Fibre Channel switches to create a storage subnetwork, as well as the need to hire Fibre Channel-qualified network technicians.

But Dell said that his company will continue to offer a full line of both iSCSI and Fibre Channel-based storage products, both its own and those it sells through its long-standing partnership with EMC.

Asked if his company's expansion into the midrange and enterprise storage market would have any affect on its partnership with EMC -- through which it manufactures and resells entry-level AX series and midrange CX series storage arrays -- Dell's chairman said only that "it has been a great partnership for both companies" and that "the partnership continues at least through 2011."

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Lucas Mearian

Computerworld

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