Arraya Insights | February 28, 2019
Dell EMC just released a software update for its Unity line of midrange storage offerings, one that promises to put an array of new features into the hands of data center admins. Far from just adding new bells and whistles, Dell EMC’s Unity 4.5 OE looks to make data storage, and data management, more efficient. In order to gain some expert insights into this new update, we sat down with members of Arraya’s Data Center Practice. Our team identified four key changes that could have organizations strongly considering a jump to 4.5.
Perhaps the most important new feature delivered by Dell EMC Unity’s 4.5 OE is advanced deduplication. This optional feature builds on Unity’s preexisting data reduction capabilities to further reduce the amount of storage space devoted to reoccurring data sets. Dell EMC estimates that when activated, advanced deduplication can triple Unity’s data reduction performance.
Here’s how advanced deduplication fits into the process. When a data set is first entered into Unity, it goes through an initial deduplication algorithm. If the algorithm detects no patterns in 4.5, the data then goes to advanced deduplication for further analysis. This separate algorithm translates data blocks into fingerprints to uncover patterns the first analysis missed. Should it find any, it will remove the offending data blocks and insert corresponding reference points. Advanced deduplication can analyze data at the LUN, File System, or Data Store level.
Advanced deduplication is certainly a big deal, however, it’s not the only new feature in Unity’s 4.5 OE worth highlighting. Another new tool is MetroSync Manager. This application is all about ensuring resource uptime and availability during a disaster scenario without increasing the pressure on onsite technology personnel.
MetroSync Manager can monitor both sides of a synchronous replication relationship. In the event that a catastrophic incident – say, a power outage – takes one of those environments offline, MetroSync Manager can initiate automatic failover to ensure business continuity. Take MetroSync Manager out of the equation and failover would still be possible. It would, however, have to be done manually using Unity’s Cabinet Level Failover process. This delays recovery, not only as the admin works through the process, but in terms of the time it takes to discover the problem. MetroSync Manager continually checks the status of each environment and can respond as soon as an incident occurs to keep the impact to a minimum. Additionally, failover can take place regardless of whether replication occurs in a one-direction or bi-directional configuration.
Also coming to the 4.5 version of Unity’s software is file-level retention. All businesses are increasingly beholden to complex external (or internal) regulations concerning when they can and can’t let go of stored data. File-level retention, which is automatically enabled in version 4.5, can support admin compliance efforts.
Simply put, file-level retention lets admins define sets of files or directories as unalterable before a given date. These files, dubbed WORM (Write-Once, Read-Many) files, are safe from purposeful modification, accidental deletion, or any other changes that could land an organization in hot water with regulators. Unity’s file-level retention comes in two flavors. The first, called file-level retention enterprise (FLR-E) uses NAS protocols to prevent users from modifying protected data. However, it won’t prevent file system deletion performed by admin-level accounts. The other method, file-level retention compliance (FLR-C), is more complex and is intended for organizations subject to federal regulations.
Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) Professional Edition
There’s one final feature included as part of Unity’s 4.5 OE that our Data Center team wanted to point out. By way of built-in integration with Dell EMC Unity’s Virtual Storage Application (VSA) Professional Edition, this update will also grant organizations access to software-defined storage backed by high availability functionality.
Using VMware’s ESXi platform as its foundation, Dell EMC Unity VSA can serve as a flexible storage solution in situations where a dedicated offering would far surpass actual needs, e.g., test sites or branch locations. Admins can spin up a Dell EMC VSA using general hardware, letting them react to demands quickly without incurring the financial and time investment necessitated by incorporating new physical infrastructure into a data center. Further flexibility comes in during the licensing phase as Dell EMC UnityVSA comes in either 10TB, 25TB, or 50TB capacity versions.
Next Steps: Upgrading to a more efficient data center with Dell EMC Unity
Want to dive deeper into these features? Ready to update your Dell EMC Unity to version 4.5 as you build a more efficient, modern data center? Arraya Solutions’ Data Center team is here to help. Our expert resources can guide your organization through every step of the process. Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to start a conversation with them today.
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