Dell is on a mission to bring all-flash storage to the masses as its flagship SC9000 array delivers the lowest costs around. Its latest SC Operating System 7 (SCOS 7) also introduces plenty of new features including intelligent data reduction, storage QoS and unification with Dell’s PS arrays.
Small review of Dell Storage SC9000
The SC9000 controller comprises two PowerEdge R730 servers equipped with dual 3.2GHz E5-2667 v3 Xeons and 256GB of system memory. Each uses a cache card linked over fibre GBICs where all cache mirroring is carried out automatically using their 4GB of battery protected NVRAM.
The SCOS software runs on an internal SSD and storage shelves are attached using dual-port 12Gbps SAS expansion cards. Storage potential is massive as the SC9000 currently supports up to 960 SSDs and HDDs with a future firmware upgrade expected to push this to 1,024 drives and beyond.
Expansion shelves include the 12-bay and 24-bay SC400 and SC420 12Gbps SAS units plus the 84-bay SC280 which supports low-cost NL-SAS drives. Data port options are plentiful with Dell offering 10GbE copper or SFP+, FCoE or 8/16Gbps FC HBAs with 25GbE coming soon.
Advantage of Dell Storage SC9000
Dell’s new HTML5-based Storage Manager (DSM) 2016 R2 has a well-designed interface which we found makes light work of storage configuration. A key feature is a unification as it can manage all SC, PS and FS appliances from one interface.
DSM supports VMware VVOLs and, more importantly, cross-platform replication. This is inclusive so you can now replicate volumes between PS and SC appliances at no extra cost.
Dell’s auto-tiering migrates data across up to three tiers dependent on access frequency and the SC9000 supports triple layer cell (TLC) SSDs as well as SLC and MLC SSDs. Whichever you choose, the SC9000 allows businesses to use fewer SSDs to get better performance than an expensive box of SAS drives.
The SC9000 automates tier creation by categorising drives by their type although you can pin specific types to one tier. For testing, we used an all-flash array comprising 22 800GB SLC SSDs and 42 1.9TB MLC SSDs placed in the first and second tiers.
Video of Dell Storage SC9000
We tested performance with two PowerEdge R720 rack servers running Windows Server 2012 R2 and equipped with QLogic dual-port 16Gbps FC adapters. With one server logged onto an all-flash virtual volume over a 32Gb/sec dual MPIO FC link, Iometer reported excellent raw random read and write rates of 24.6Gb/sec and 24.5Gb/sec.
With two servers, we saw Iometer report an impressive cumulative raw read throughput of 45Gb/sec.
We tested maximum read IOPS with a small 4KB request size and saw one server return 180,000 IOPS which ramped up to 360,000 with two servers showing no contention for resources.
We then tested with our Iometer database workload and saw it report a top throughput of 150,000 IOPS for one server. Running the workload on two servers saw a cumulative throughput of 300,000 IOPS.
We found Dell’s automated tiered storage takes the strain out of storage management and the new DSM console makes configuration and provisioning even easier. Snapshots and thin provisioning are all standard features and enterprises can now manage all their Dell arrays from the same interface. All-flash performance is beyond reproach and the competition will have a tough job matching Dell’s low storage costs.
|CPU||2 x 3.2GHz E5-2667 v3 8-core Xeon|
|Cache memory||4GB NVRAM and BBU|
|Storage:||Up to 960 SSDs or HDDs supported|
|Array support||RAID 0, 5, 6, 10 and 10 DM|
|Power||2 x 1100W hot-plug PSUs|
|Expansion||7 x PCI-Express slots (6 free)|
|Software||Dell Storage Center OS 7|
|Management:||Dell Storage Manager 2016 R2|
|Warranty||3yrs Co-Pilot on-site 24/7 NBD 4hr response|