Dell PowerMaxOS 10.1 Boosts Data Compression, Performance, Adds AI To Cybersecurity

Dell Technologies’ PowerMaxOS, the operating system that runs the infrastructure giant’s storage solution, just got an update that improves data compression, performance per watt and cyber-intrusion detection — and it comes laden with services and expansion work for channel partners. 

“It’s a high-touch solution that offers a lot of opportunities throughout the value chain,” said Frank Nicolo, senior product marketing manager with Dell Technologies. “Partners can add integrations, consulting services, tech support. They have a lot of opportunity to increase their top line as well as make more margin … This has been a big one. I think customers are going to really enjoy the capabilities.” 

The team that put together Dell PowerMax OS 10.1 focused on bringing higher levels of efficiency, cyber resiliency, and intelligent automation to the new launch, Nicolo said. The updated OS comes as Dell shifted its go-to-market with Partner First Strategy For Storage, which incents the company’s internal sales teams greater to win deals through channel partners. 

“This just continues to accelerate the business that they have been generating,” said Ben Jastrab, director, of primary storage marketing at Dell Technologies. “Coupled with the change in strategy, the Partner First Strategy for Storage, now we’re sort of doubling down and saying. Look, we need partners to lead these conversations. We’re giving you some of the most capable storage in the industry. Go win, and we’re going to help you do that. So I think they should be extremely excited to continue to work with technologies like PowerMax and we’re we’re pretty bullish on the opportunity ahead.”

The Dell storage story keeps getting richer for partners, said Bob Venero, CEO of Dell Global Titanium partner Future Tech, No. 76 on CRN’s 2023 Solution Provider 500. The latest updates to the OS are part of a tapestry of technology products that partners can pick from to paint for customers a picture that shows Dell storage paired with Dell’s AI servers to solve big problems in the enterprise.

“You are talking about a very effective, all-around Dell solution,” Venero said. “When Dell doubled down on the comp changes to storage, these things that were coming down the pike were top of mind for them, in terms of the add ons. The Dell direct reps who are getting paid more to work with channel partners on storage, they really have an easier conversation to have with that partner because of the service capabilities that they can get around the new PowerMax set ups.” 

Nicolo said the efficiency of PowerMax is broken down three ways: energy, operations, and data. 

“One of the most exciting parts of this announcement is that we are shipping with every PowerMax system as of 10.1, a new power consumption dash-board that basically takes advantage of intelligent PDUs in the rack,” Nicolo said. “What customers will be able to do, and they’ve been asking for this for a long time, is do real-time environmental monitoring, alerting and management.” 

He said the Round Rock, Texas-based company is going to aggregate the information and report it back to customers with an interface that will eventually be integrated into open manager enterprise, but for now is a stand alone part of the 10.1 update. The update also gives customers the ability to shift data seamlessly from one PowerMax in their network, to another PowerMax. Nicolo said PowerMax users can now balance, workloads across arrays and maximize resource utilization.” 

“Many of our customers might have 10, 20, or 30 PowerMax units in five different locations around the world,” Nicolo said. “Let’s say you have a PowerMax in London, and you are hitting the capacity of your performance or capabilities, you can send that workload to a PowerMax in New York.” 

Autonomous health checks use machine learning and predictive analytics to monitor the health of the PowerMax unit to identify find problems before they happen. 

“If there is a potential issue, we’ll identify it and take corrective action,” Nicolo said. 

By far one of the biggest differentiators of the new PowerMax 10.1 is its five-to-one data reduction guarantee, Nicolo said. 

“I remember back in 2016, we had the two-to-one data reduction and we were the first to the market with that guarantee. Now, we’re up to five to one, so we have continually evolved our data reduction technology to improve it for data efficiency,” he said.

Thanks to a combination of deduplication and compression technology inside PowerMax, if customers need a petabyte of effective capacity, they would only buy a fifth of that, even though they are getting a petabyte of usable storage, Nicolo said. 

“This is great for so many reason, he said. “You lower your footprint in the data center. You lower your power and cooling costs, and it’s better for the environment.” 

The PowerMax 2500 takes up 10U of space and it can store 8 petabytes of effective capacity, added Jastrab.

“The density of the compute and storage power is just incredible compared to even a few years ago,” he said. “It’s amazing how much horsepower they can squeeze into these units these days.” 

The new PowerMax 10.1 gets 2.8 times better performance per watt, than the previous software version. Nicolo said that combination offers better performance and less rack density. 

“Basically, you need six of the old PowerMax arrays to deliver the same capacity as one of the new PowerMax arrays,” Nicolo said. “They set up two PowerMax units. One was last generation and then the new generation with 10.1. They had intelligent PDUs do the power consumption monitoring, so they were able to aggregate all the power used and then they looked at the I/O per second that each of the arrays could deliver. The latest technology can deliver a lot more power per kilowatt.” 

Jastrab said while the enhancements to PowerMax represent the best of Dell’s storage products, the company has leadership positions across the entire storage portfolio. Dell is number one in external RAID (redundant array of independent disks) enterprise storage, high-end RAID storage, mid-range RAID storage, storage software, as well as all flash array RAID, according to IDC. 

“The breadth of our portfolio is our greatest strength. You can address any market or customer need with the offers that we have in our overall storage portfolio. PowerMax is a hugely important piece of that toolset.” 

The PowerMax line offer Dell’s most durable, mission-critical storage arrays, he said. Now the two newest products in that lineup, the PowerMax 2500 and PowerMax 8500, are on the U.S. Department of Defense-approved product list, joining the PowerMax 2000 and PowerMax 8000. 

“Any channel partner with a federal focus will have a great time with PowerMax because we stay compliant and on the approved products list,” Nicolo said. 

Becoming compliant with the highest security standards set by the U.S. military for its work is not a quick or easy certification, taking six to eight months of testing, Nicolo said. 

“To get on the approved products list, you have to have a special configuration of PowerMax that meets the highest requirements of Department of Defense,” he said. “And if you pass you get on the approved products list so you have to do special configuration work to make sure you’re at the highest level of security. ”

The new OS includes Transport Layer Security 1.3 for improved encryption in networking communications introduced in this update. Venero said the billions of dollars the federal government spends on technology moves through federal systems integrators who must buy technology from the approved products list. 

“Who supports the federal systems integrators? Nobody better than FutureTech,” he said “So for us, this is a great thing. Look, cloud is cloud, but as Dell builds capabilities, throughput, cyber into these tools, the hybrid, on-prem model, just becomes better and better and better, especially when you talk about a consumption model.” 

Dell Technologies’ Nicolo said for the OS’s security update, PowerMax now uses machine learning to analyze input-output patterns and activities in the storage array which can indicate that an attack is underway or imminent. 

“We can flag it and let the IT manager know that you may have a cyber event,” Nicolo said. “We had the capability initially for open storage, and now we are providing it for mainframe. It turns out, that it is the industry’s first, cyber-intrusion detection for mainframe using machine learning.”

The alerts are fed into CloudIQ, Dell’s remote data center health dashboard that powers more than 380,000 systems around the world using AI/Ops to monitor servers, storage, networking. 

“When you’re away from the data center you can remotely on your phone dial into CloudIQ to check the health of PowerMax, and if there’s an alert it can go to that device,” Nicolo said. “It’s continuous monitoring to detect unusual I/O patterns or data reduction patterns. PowerMax will turn on the capability, and over a two weeks period it will establish a pattern and that’s when it will be effective. Then over the course of a month or two months, if you see a big deviation from that pattern like going from a four-to-one data reduction to a one-to-one, it could be because your files have been encrypted.” 

The new software updates to PowerMax 10.1 are available Tuesday. They come a year after the July 2022 release of PowerMax 2500 and PowerMax 8500.

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