Dell teases PowerScale unified storage array

Dell will launch a unified unstructured storage array line next month, deputy chairman Jeff Clarke said yesterday.

In prepared remarks about the company’s Q1 earnings, Clarke revealed: “Next month, Unstructured.NEXT, the last of the powering up of the portfolio, will be delivered.”

‘Powering up’ is a nod to the Power brand prefix that Dell has adopted for its server, storage and networking portfolio. We think Unstructured.NEXT product will be called PowerScale. It will unify the Isilon scale-out file storage and ECS object storage lines with unified hardware and a single operating system.

Isilon was updated in January with support for containers, larger files, more capacity, faster Azure cloud compute access, and cloud-based management.

Blocks & Files suggests that the PowerScale OS will be a containerised operating system, in common with PowerStore OS, which runs the newly introduced PowerStore unified midrange array. Also we think Dell will offer automated migration to PowerScale from Isilon and ECS systems.

But will the new OS run as a virtual machine in a hypervisor-controlled PowerScale system? We have no insider information but this would enable applications to run on PowerScale as they do on PowerStore with its AppsOn feature.

We suggest that PowerScale will have an all-flash model, to compete head-to-head with Pure Storage’s FlashBlade.

PowerScale will ratchet up the competition with file and object storage vendors like Cloudian, Hitachi Vantara, IBM, Igneous, Minio, NetApp, Panasas, Pure Storage, Quantum, Qumulo, Scality and WekaIO.

Earnings

Onto Dell’s storage revenues, which took a five per cent hit to $3.8bn in its Q1 fy2021 ended April 30.

Our sister publication The Register has covered the overall Dell Technologies and VMware business unit results. Dell revenues were $21.9bn, about the same as a year ago, generating $182m net income, compared with last year’s $329m.

Dell storage revenues are included in the Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG), which reported $7.6bn revenues, down eight per cent on the year. This was better than ISG’s server and networking sales, which declined 10 per cent to $3.8bn.

There were some bright storage spots and Dell vice chairman Jeff Clarke’s noted “double-digit demand growth in VxRail and in our high-end PowerMax solution and solid demand in unstructured storage, offset by softness in other areas of core storage.”

VxRail is Dell’s hyperconverged infrastructure appliance. Clarke’s comment implies other systems such as the SC, Unity, VNX and XtremIO arrays fared less well.

Dell will hope to rectify this with the unifying PowerStore midrange array, launched this month. Clarke was bullish about PowerStore in the earnings call: “The pipeline is growing rapidly. We have over 70 per cent of our storage specialists that already have had pipeline for PowerStore.”

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