Dell Technologies PowerStore announcement

In Dell Tech, OneFS, PowerStore by AdministratorLeave a Comment

Dell announced a completely new midrange storage solution that takes functionality from their current midrange systems and upgrades it into a scale-up/scale-out/ever on/upgrade forever new data center world.

Dell PowerStore storage appliance

PowerStore is a major redesign of Dell’s midrange storage line. PowerStore comes in a 2U appliance and has block, vVOLs and file support. PowerStore offers scale up storage, dual active-active controllers and up to 25 NVMe slots (21 SSDs and 4 NVRAM drives) on base system which can connect up to 3 more 25 SAS SSD drive enclosures. PowerStore raw capacity is 898.6TB or ~3.6PB effective capacity with its always on, inline data reduction.

PowerStore comes in 5 different performance levels (1000, 3000, 5000, 7000, and 9000) but the only hardware differences between the systems were:

  1. Number of NVRAM modules (2 for the 1000 & 3000, with 4 for the rest),
  2. Amount of system memory/cache (384GB, 768GB, 1152GB, 1536GB, and 2560GB, respectively),
  3. CPU levels/core counts (32, 48 , 64, 80, and 112 cores/CPU, respectively), and
  4. CPU speed (1.8, 2.1, 2.1, 2.4 and 2.1 Ghz, respectively).

All remaining hardware appears to be the same, such as, frontend ports 24 (all types) of which a maximum of 16 16Gbps/32Gbps FC ports and the remainder 10GbE or 25GbE, maximum SSDs (96), mezzanine cards (2), IO modules (4), SAS interfaces (4×4 lane-12Gb), etc. Drive support includes 1.9- 15.4TB NVMe SSDs, 375GB & 750GB Optane SSDs, and 1.9-7.7TB SAS SSDs. PowerStore provides up to 7X the performance and 3X better response time than their previous mid-range storage.

With the initial release, PowerStore appliances come in two models: PowerStore X with VMware ESXi hypervisor and AppsON support (see below), and PowerStore T for scale out where up to 4 PowerStore T appliances can be clustered together. PowerStore X appliances will be able to scale out in a future release.

PowerStore supports a more autonomous operations environment, that is fully integrated with vSphere APIs, VCF, vRO/vRA operations, and is fully supported by CloudIQ. It also supports vVOLs as well as K8S storage with a CSI plug in. Dell also called the PowerStore architecture as container like which should enable quicker roll out of future functionality.

On PowerStore X models, the storage OS (PowerStoreOS) runs as a VM within the system, and the included AppsON capability lets customers run storage or data intensive (VM) applications directly on the appliance. Many possible use cases for AppsON but IO intensive near-edge applications are clearly one. As PowerStore operates under VMware management, data and applications can be migrated from PowerStore X to core infrastructure and back again all non-disruptively.

Dell mentioned that PowerStore is NVMeoF ready and PowerStore will be made available, at some point, as a software defined storage solution.

Furthermore, PowerStore customers should never have to migrate data again. That is with PowerStore’s adaptable architecture and the new Anytime Upgrades program, customers can upgrade models, performance levels, add storage enclosures and SSDs, add cluster nodes, upgrade software, etc., all non-disruptively and without having to migrate data.

Dell OneFS available on GCP

Dell also announced this month that they will be rolling out (Isilon) OneFS service under Google Cloud Platform as a native, tier 1 file service offering for GCP customers.


PowerStore represents a significant step for Dell. They have often talked of allowing applications to run on storage systems but bundling ESXi hypervisor within PowerStore X takes this to a whole other level. The never having to migrate data again is interesting but many vendors offer similar non-disruptive upgrade capabilities, at least within a storage solution. Migrating from PowerStore to PowerMax would be something to see though.

At the announcement there wasn’t much talk of storage functionality. Presumably PowerStore brings the best of Unity XT and SC storage functionality together in one package. Also not a lot of hard data on performance but with 21NVMe SSDs or Optane SCM SSDs and 100s of CPU cores, 2TB of cache, it should be a screaming IO machine. Which will only get better when NVMeoF comes out.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in May-June of 2020.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. ]   

Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community.

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