Dell EqualLogic OS 8.0 with vSphere Virtual Volumes

A wide range of storage arrays have been made available with the release.

Dell just announced the release of EqualLogic OS 8.0, which includes a firmware upgrade and vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) provider that will enable its arrays to work with vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVols). What's unique about this particular release is the broad scope of Dell arrays that will be VVol capable with this update.

The VMware hardware capability list (HCL) for Dell arrays shows that more than 45 EqualLogic arrays now support VVols. This update can be applied to any EqualLogic PS4x or PS6x array shipped since 2009. I also saw a smattering of PS5x and PS-M4x series arrays on the HCL. The VASA provider is included with Dell's Virtual Storage Manager (VSM) 4.5. The VSM is deployed as a virtual appliance, and has a vCenter plug-in that can be used for VVol array management tasks.

This release supports 32 storage containers (SCs) per array. There's a soft limit of 300 VMs per array, and a hard limit of 340. The VM limits are for VMs that are powered on; VMs stored on the array but not powered on won't count against these limits. VVols can coexist on the array with its traditional iSCSI storage.  

The rule-sets (see Figure 1) surface up the capabilities of the arrays, and are used to create policies that can be applied to VMs. The capabilities surfaced are RAID Type, Disk Speed, Disk Type and Disk Encryption. Not all the checkboxes shown in Figure 1 are applicable to all supported arrays.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. Creating rulesets for the new Virtual Volume.

Dell was an early proponent of VVols, and one of five design partners that worked on it with VMware. Many people got their first experience working with VVols at VMworld 2014 via the Dell/VMware Hands-on-Labs (HOL).

The HOL used an early pre-release version of Dell’s VVol technology, and Dell learned a lot by allowing so many users to have access to the HOL. In the end, they were able to implement much of the feedback from the HOL users in the released product. Dell will create a new HOL based on the general availability bits, which will be ready by VMworld 2015.

Dell is offering this VVol-enabling upgrade at no cost to their customers with existing support contractors.

Overall, this looks like a solid VVol offering, with broad array support that is fairly mature (due to the HOL) that should work well for VMware, Dell and their customers. The VMware HCL for arrays with VVol support can be found here. More information on EqualLogic OS 8.0 can be found here. As with any firmware/software release, check the release notes for more detailed information on its capabilities and limitations.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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