The PowerStore hardware platform is created with a focus on performance, reliability, and modular flexibility. Designed from the ground up to leverage next-generation innovations such as NVMe and Intel® Optane™ Storage Class Memory (SCM) to deliver higher IOPS at lower latencies for real-world workloads. This offers all the performance and expansion headroom that is needed to ensure long-term value through multiple solution life cycles.

PowerStore helps simplify and consolidate diverse infrastructures with high-performance multi-protocol network I/O options and single-architecture support for block, file, and VMware® vSphere® Virtual Volumes™ (vVols), transforming operations for both traditional and modern workloads.

PowerStore Appliance

PowerStore Hardware

Each PowerStore appliance consists of two nodes. Each node includes dual-socket CPUs and an Intel chipset which is used to offload the inline data compression. Each hardware configuration in the PowerStore platform is available in either a PowerStore T model or PowerStore X model configuration. The base hardware, processors, memory, media support, and services such as deduplication and compression are identical between the two models. The five available appliance models are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 – available models

The base enclosure for all appliance models holds up to twenty-five 2.5-inch NVMe drives. Four slots are reserved for 8 GB NVMe write cache drives. Up to three additional expansion enclosures are available to serve capacity from twenty-five 2.5-inch SAS SSDs if using NVMe SSD drives in the base enclosure.

PowerStore Front View

Each of the two nodes in an appliance comes with an integrated 4-port Ethernet network card. Customers can choose between a 4-port 10/1 GbE Base-T or a 4-port 10/25 GbE optical/SFP+ card. For increased connectivity, each node supports up to two additional I/O modules. These extra I/O modules must match across the nodes on an appliance. PowerStore supports the following I/O modules:

PowerStore T models and PowerStore X models:

  • 4-port 32/16/8/4 Gb Fibre Channel

PowerStore T models only:

  • 4-port 10/1 GbE Base-T Ethernet
  • 4-port 25/10 GbE Optical/SFP+

PowerStore Models

PowerStore T models provide organizations with all the benefits of a unified storage platform for block, file and vVol data, while enabling flexible growth with the intelligent scale-up and scale-out capability of appliance clusters. Also, automated management of resources across the cluster results in superior storage utilization and simplified administration. PowerStore enables application storage for VMware® Cloud Foundation™ (VCF) with both block and file protocols, supporting needs for portability across today’s hybrid cloud environments.

PowerStore T model architecture

PowerStore T models can provide block storage and file services when deployed in unified mode. When no file services (NFS/SMB) are required, the system can be deployed in a block-optimized mode to use the maximum power of each appliance to serve block I/O. PowerStoreOS is installed on purpose-built hardware, which runs the containers that are providing these services.

PowerStore X models natively support serving block and vVol resources to external hosts. Also, PowerStore X models feature a revolutionary new storage architecture that enables running virtualized workloads directly on the appliance through the new AppsON capability. PowerStore X models include an integrated VMware ESXi™ hypervisor, which allows it to provide multiple IT services simultaneously:

  • Scalable storage capacity for applications running on external hosts throughout the enterprise
  • High-performance VMware-based compute environment for hosting local applications (AppsON)

PowerStore X model architecture

With VMware vSphere as the underlying foundation, administrators can move workloads seamlessly between these services. Standard vSphere tools, including VMware vSphere vMotion® and storage vMotion, enables easy workload mobility in and out of PowerStore X models to other VMware targets.

Benefits of the AppsON capability include a new level of agility for application deployments, with seamless movement between the PowerStore appliances and VMware ESXi servers. AppsON also provides the ability to shrink the stack by eliminating server and networking footprint for space-efficient edge and remote deployments.

AppsON is ideal for data-intensive applications that require low latency or a storage-heavy imbalance of compute and storage.

The native VMware ESXi hypervisor can be used immediately after initial configuration is completed. The initial configuration includes registration and configuration into an existing VMware vCenter™. The initial deployment also configures two controller VMs for the PowerStore X model appliance. There is one controller VM on each node, which runs a virtualized version of PowerStoreOS. Both controller VMs reserve 50% of the available CPU and memory on their respective node, leaving the other 50% for user VMs.


Every PowerStore appliance is deployed into a PowerStore cluster. There is a minimum of one PowerStore appliance and a maximum of four PowerStore appliances that can be configured into the cluster. Multi-appliance clustering is only supported on PowerStore T models. When a multi-appliance cluster is deployed, this task can be performed during the initial configuration process or appliances can be added to an existing cluster. PowerStore clusters can be scaled down by removing appliances from an existing cluster.
Clustering PowerStore appliances can provide many benefits:

  • Easy scale out to increase CPU, memory, storage capacity, and front-end connectivity
  • Independent scaling of storage and compute resources
  • Centralized management for multi-appliance cluster
  • Automated orchestration for host connectivity
  • Increased resiliency and fault tolerance

Users can scale-out appliances with different model numbers to create a four-appliance cluster. In addition to the scale-out benefit, each appliance can scale-up with different numbers of expansion enclosures, be a different model, and have different media types. This flexible scale-out and scale-up deployment give customers the ability to grow their clusters with no dependence on the model number, drive count, or even drive type.

PowerStore Clustering

Resource balancer

In the modern data center, administrators must be quick and agile to support mission-critical applications. PowerStore offers an intelligent analytical engine that is built into PowerStoreOS. This engine offers many benefits such as helping administrators make decisions that are based on initial placement of data. It also assists with volume migrations or storage expansion that are based on analytics and capacity forecasting.

When storage administrators are creating storage resources, the resource balancer can provide many benefits. For example, when a multi-appliance cluster is deployed, the resource balancer intelligently and automatically places newly created volumes on different appliances in the cluster. This placement is based on which appliance has the most unused capacity. If choosing to override the decision of automatic placement, there is an option to manually select which appliance to place the volume.

Volume migration

PowerStore Manager

PowerStore Manager provides an easy and intuitive front end for operators and storage administrators to configure and manage the cluster and associated appliances. It is based on HTML5 and does not require additional software to be installed on the client.

PowerStore Manager

PowerStore summary

Dell EMC™ PowerStore™ achieves new levels of operational simplicity and agility. It uses a container-based microservices architecture, advanced storage technologies, and integrated machine learning to unlock the power of your data. PowerStore is a versatile platform with a performance-centric design that delivers multidimensional scale, always-on data reduction, and support for next-generation media.

PowerStore brings the simplicity of public cloud to on-premises infrastructure, streamlining operations with an integrated machine-learning engine and seamless automation. It also offers predictive analytics to easily monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot the environment. PowerStore is highly adaptable, providing the flexibility to host specialized workloads directly on the appliance and modernize infrastructure without disruption. It also offers investment protection through flexible payment solutions and data-in-place upgrades.
PowerStore provides customers with data-centric, intelligent, and adaptable infrastructure that supports both traditional and modern workloads. PowerStore makes this possible with:

  • Data-centric design that optimizes system performance, scalability, and storage efficiency to support any workload without compromise.
  • Intelligent automation through programmable infrastructure that simplifies management and optimizes system resources, while enabling proactive health analytics to easily monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot the environment.
  • Adaptable architecture that enables speed and application mobility, offers flexible deployment models, and provides choice, predictability, and investment protection through flexible payment solutions and data-in-place upgrades.

PowerStore highlights

Additional sources of information for DellEMC PowerStore:

PowerStore Product Page

PowerStore Data Sheet

PowerStore Spec Sheet

PowerStore technical documents and videos


PowerStore Interactive Demo

PowerStore Hand-On Lab

(Sources used for this article: DellEMC website and Dell EMC PowerStore: Technical Primer | H18226)