IT Modernization with Next-generation Dell PowerEdge Servers

Move from OSA to ESA with PowerEdge R760 powered by 4th generation Intel Xeon Processors.

Transitioning to new server technology requires organizations to closely consider the costs and benefits when investing in new infrastructure, including hardware, software and the operating environment. Imagine the performance gains of a data center using this new or upgraded hardware and software. Along with raw performance gains, organizations will enjoy the latest in security protection, systems management capabilities, faster processing speeds, reduced downtime and faster results. In addition, an updated infrastructure will enhance scalability to accommodate future growth without major disruptions and improve cluster performance per watt.

All of this points to how upgrading your hardware, software and operating environment may improve the overall output of your data center. However, aligning all three elements simultaneously is a challenge, as past decisions can hinder progress.

Dell, Intel and VMware offer an upgraded ReadyNode infrastructure solution called vSAN 8.0 with Express Storage Architecture (ESA). This release delivers enhanced performance and efficiency to meet customers’ evolving business needs. Customers using Dell’s PowerEdge R760 server can leverage the benefits of vSAN 8.0 but must decide between the existing vSAN Original Storage Architecture (OSA) Ready Node or upgrading to the new ESA ReadyNode architecture. vSAN ESA ReadyNodes are x86 servers that have been pre-configured, tested and certified by Dell and VMware. Each vSAN ESA ReadyNode is optimally configured for vSAN ESA or OSA with the required amount of CPU, memory, network IO and storage NVMe devices. In total, Dell offers more than 250 configurations to suit any customer requirements, begging the question: Which one should you choose, and how do you migrate?

Engineers from Intel, supported by engineers from Dell, tested multiple vSAN offerings to conduct a thorough understanding of performance and use case characteristics. The tests were conducted in Intel and Dell performance labs between November 2022 and March 2023, using NVMe drives from Solidigm. The ultimate goal was to identify the performance improvements of vSAN 8.0 ESA compared to the previous vSAN 7.0U3 OSA architecture over multiple generations of different hardware offerings. The tests resulted in showing over 6x higher performance and up to 4.9x lower latency using the latest-generation Dell servers and 4th generation Intel Xeon Processors with higher PCIe bandwidth and enhanced network capabilities.

Since the vSAN 8 ESA storage framework has more specific hardware requirements than OSA, most customers will be transitioning to the ESA on a per-cluster basis through a new installation of vSAN running on vSAN ReadyNodes certified for use with the ESA. The OSA to ESA transition is a one-time migration occurring on a per-cluster basis. Each step requires careful consideration of factors like hardware replacement, data migration, performance benefits and available capacity in other clusters.

In the end, IT teams’ primary responsibilities are improving total cost of ownership (TCO), reducing downtime and increasing performance and scalability by optimizing infrastructure. As technology continues to evolve, engineers at Dell, Intel and VMware are focused on optimizing new solutions to deliver greater value to customers. Deploying new technologies into old environments can risk – or sometimes even eliminate – this value.

Combining Dell PowerEdge Servers with 4th generation Intel® Xeon® Processors and the latest VMware hypervisor/vSAN ReadyNodes can dramatically improve performance, reduce latency and provide more timely business insights. With storage devices forming a large portion of TCO, reconfiguring existing hardware to optimize the capabilities of vSAN8.0 ESA requires a significant capital investment. Yet, servers will still not deliver maximum performance due to the reduced performance of legacy NVMe and servers. In addition, this approach significantly increases the workload on existing IT staff.

Learn more about what to consider when upgrading the three primary pillars of your infrastructure: hardware, software and the operating environment.

Seamus Jones

About the Author: Seamus Jones

Seamus currently serves Dell Technologies as Director, Server Technical Marketing, seasoned with over 20 years of real world experience in both North America and EMEA. His unique perspective comes from experience consulting customers on data center initiatives and server virtualization strategies.