What is Dell Technologies PowerStore, what are the core features and how does it stack up against the competition?

Trustmarque’s Datacentre Alliances Manager Jonathan Sutcliffe, who manages our Titanium partner relationship with Dell Technologies, provides an in-depth look at Dell’s new mid-range storage solution, PowerStore.

“This is the most important development in data storage hardware for many years and PowerStore will be the benchmark for the rest of the storage array industry to compare, contrast and compete with”. Blocksandfiles.com

Background to PowerStore

The acquisition of EMC (which also owned VMware) in 2016 by Dell resulted in the organisation having a packed mid-range storage offering. The integration meant that by 2020, Dell EMC’s mid-range storage line consisted of Unity XT, SC Series (Compellent) and XtremIO (and previously VNX and EqualLogic, before being discontinued). Whilst product innovations have been made in the following years – such as the 2019 release of Unity XT –  the hype surrounding PowerStore is noticeably different.

Dell Technologies spent approximately $4.5bn on research and development in 2019. With the huge annual investment in R&D, expectations were rightly high for PowerStore.

PowerStore at a glanceDell Technologies PowerStore image

There are PowerStore product lines: The T series and X series. The T series appears to be a traditional primary storage appliance, which follows Unity’s lead in combining elements of block and file storage in one platform. This platform seems suited to traditional and modern databases and applications. The X series (according to the specs) does not appear to have file storage capabilities (perhaps sacrificed due to one of the innovations referenced below), and is designed for use in data intensive environments. Both series are available in five models (1000, 3000, 5000, 7000, 9000), so the configurations will cover numerous workloads.

So what differentiates PowerStore from the likes of NetApp’s AFF, Pure Storage’s FlashArray or HPE’s Nimble? From what I can see, there are two key differentiators – both of which appear to set the product apart in the market.

Two features that set PowerStore apart

1. AppsON

Through capability known as ‘AppsON’, the PowerStore X series is the only purpose-built array with a built-in VMware ESXi hypervisor. For me, this is a shrewd move by Dell Technologies. VMware dominates the hypervisor market (with an estimated 80% market share), and are a key option for many organisations adopting a hybrid-cloud approach.

No other solution has capability to run VMware virtualized applications natively. Dell Technologies boasts PowerStore “vastly improves VMware virtualized application flexibility by enabling application mobility between PowerStore and other VMware targets”.PowerStore combines the best features of Dell’s existing mid-range platforms, with the SC series and XtremIO slowly being phased out of the portfolio (leaving PowerStore and Unity XT). For any existing Compellent or XtremIO customer, PowerStore appears to be the migration platform of choice.

We’ve seen Dell Technologies utilise their integration with VMware highly effectively before. Their hyper-converged appliance offering VxRail, which is the only fully integrated, pre-configured and pre-tested VMware hyperconverged system, powered with VMware’s vSAN software. Dell Technologies and VMware are market leaders in both HCI appliances and HCI software respectively, despite stiff competition.

2. Anytime Upgrades

The ‘Anytime Upgrades’ program is designed to expand and enhance PowerStore over time, providing greater choice, predictability and investment protection. Together with PowerStore, Anytime Upgrades offers adaptable architecture that effectively ends the traditional cycle of disruptive platform migration with simple, flexible data-in-place upgrades — without downtime or impact to applications. And unlike other programs, Anytime Upgrades may also be executed after just 180 days of commencing your service contract.

That is potentially a huge development. Storage appliances typically have a five year cycle, and many organisations would run the same technology throughout this cycle. They could then refresh their existing datacentre environment or consider public/hybrid cloud. In fact, Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services can directly connect PowerStore to all major public clouds, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and Google Cloud as a managed service. Cloud Storage Services provide Data Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to VMware Cloud on AWS. With anytime upgrades, Dell have created a storage appliance that appears future proof.

Anytime Upgrades are available in three options:

  • Next-Gen: Upgrade appliance nodes (controllers) to the next generation equivalent models
  • Higher Model: Upgrade to more powerful nodes within the current generation
  • Scale-Out: Apply a discount to expand your environment with a second appliance equal to the current model

Other Benefits of PowerStore

Reduced TCO – By leveraging existing storage investments, people skills, and operational procedures, the overall cost of application deployments utilizing PowerStore in VMware environments and with VMware Cloud Foundation can be reduced.

Scale up and scale out – independently add capacity or processing power.

Flexible consumption – choice, predictability and investment protection with pay-per-use solutions and data-in-place upgrades.

How Trustmarque can help with your modern datacentre

Dell Titanium partner logo

Trustmarque is a leading Dell Technologies Titanium partner and one of the most accredited UK partners – with a specialism delivering unstructured and modern datacentre solutions.

For the past 10 years, Trustmarque has maintained our in-house engineer capabilities with personnel who are trained to a high level on Dell datacentre solutions, enhanced by our in-house support team who work closely with Dell support. Trustmarque currently has trained installation engineers in Isilon, VNX, Unity, Data Domain, XtremiO and in 2019 became the first Dell Technologies UK partner to become ECS accredited.

Trustmarque is always looking at ways to support customers and are teaming up with Dell Technologies to offer a number of payment promotions to offer greater flexibility and accessibility – particularly in the current climate.

Find out more

If you are interested in learning how Trustmarque can help you with your data management challenges, please email [email protected] or contact your account manager.

About Jonathan Sutcliffe

Jonathan joined Trustmarque’s Alliances team in 2017 as a Partner Executive and has progressed to his current role as a Datacentre Alliances Manager. Jonathan currently manages the Trustmarque relationships for three of our key datacentre vendors: Dell Technologies, VMware and Veeam. Trustmarque’s Alliances team consist of 5 Alliance managers who are focused on developing our strategic partnerships and ultimately, improve outcomes for our customers.

Contact: [email protected]

Jonathan Sutcliffe