InfoWorld review: Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN kicks it to 10G

Dell's EqualLogic PS6010XV 10G iSCSI array delivers big time performance, offering an easier and lower cost option to Fibre Channel

EqualLogic iSCSI storage arrays have always been fast, but they've recently gotten even faster. The new EqualLogic PS6010XV traded the four Gigabit Ethernet ports per controller in the PS6000 series in favor of two 10G Ethernet ports on each of the redundant controllers in the array. The result? Lower latency and snappier storage.

On one hand, bringing 10G to iSCSI arrays is a no-brainer. The per-port costs are still quite considerable, but in highly transactional roles, there's a tangible difference in storage access times. Suffice it to say, if you're bumping up against a 4Gb ceiling, 10G is very attractive.

[ Think you can't afford a SAN? See "Buy an 'expensive' SAN and save money" and "Is cheap disk storage really cheap?" ]

As with all EqualLogic iSCSI arrays, the PS6010XV is a self-contained, 4U, 16-drive unit available with 15K RPM SAS disks. The rear sports two redundant controllers and two redundant power supplies. The 10G connections are SFP+ -- no muss, no fuss. Firing up the array takes only a few minutes with a serial console, and subsequent configuration is handled through the well-appointed Java-based management app. All in all, it's almost faster and easier to set up a PS6010XV than it is to write about the process.

Easy setup and smooth scaling
Proving once again that simple tends to be better, the PS6010XV integrates seamlessly into an existing EqualLogic storage group. If you have a collection of EqualLogic arrays, the PS6010XV will plug right into the management infrastructure. Thus, there is no learning curve to climb for implementation. Aside from the performance boost and the 10G interfaces on the controllers, the PS6010XV is one of the gang, so to speak.

It's quite hard to stress a 10G link to a single array of 16 drives unless they're solid-state drives (SSDs), which are not supported in the PS6010XV model. There are several models in the PS6010/PS6510 line, however, including the PS6010S, which does use SSDs, and the PS6510X, which offers up to 48 10K SAS drives. These models will make better use of a 10G link than a 16-spindle array will, due to the speed of SSDs and the increased spindle count in the PS6510X. Nonetheless, the 10G links aren't wasted on the PS6010XV.

EqualLogic's model of array scaling necessitates adding network capacity simultaneously with storage capacity. You can't attach raw disks to an EqualLogic array; it's all one unit, Ethernet ports included. That means adding 10G connectivity isn't so much about the bandwidth it can push, but rather about the lower latency and access times, which can have a significant impact on a variety of highly transactional applications. That's not to say the PS6010XV can't push beyond single gigabit limits, as I was able to get over 200MBps streaming reads from a single host, but that's nowhere near 10G boundaries.

Test Center Scorecard
Dell EqualLogic PS6010XV91099109



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