Getty Images

Dell PowerMaxOS 10.1 targets operational, energy efficiency

The latest Dell PowerMaxOS update brings greater data reduction and power usage monitoring to its top-of-the-line storage array. The update also keyed in on cyber-resilience.

Dell Technologies' high-end block storage OS received an update that adds power monitoring as well as more data reduction and cybersecurity certification to the mix.

The 10.1 update for PowerMaxOS includes a new guarantee for data reduction, new power usage monitoring capabilities and data mobility functionality to help allocate data to the proper storage resources. Dell has added more certifications and functionality around cyber-resiliency including detection in mainframes. PowerMax also includes capabilities to automate health checks and to eliminate redundancy. The 10.1 update comes 16 months after Dell layered in more than 200 features to the OS and just five months after native air-gapping was introduced.

PowerMax, which debuted in 2018 replacing the Dell EMC Vmax, is an important part of Dell's storage portfolio in terms of revenue, according to Dave Pearson, an analyst at IDC. While the OS updates are relatively minor, they focus on critical issues such as power usage and cyberprotection.

"Dell picked a couple of core areas here that I think are smart -- greater efficiency and cyber-resiliency," Pearson said.

Increasing reduction ratios

Dell has increased its data reduction guarantee from 4:1 to 5:1 for open systems due to updates in its deduplication and compression technology. PowerMax offloads data reduction processes to a hardware element to preserve storage array performance.

The new data reduction guarantee and the speed at which Dell was able to achieve this change are notable, according to Brent Ellis, an analyst at Forrester Research. In 2021, Dell offered a 3.5:1 data reduction guarantee; it improved on that ratio last year with its 4:1 guarantee.

Unlike other storage array vendors, Dell continues to offer customers the ability to turn on data reduction features based on workloads, Ellis said.

Data reduction also improves operational efficiency, which has become a priority for companies for a little more than a year now given the uncertain economic climate, according to Pearson. Compressed data means fewer arrays are needed for data storage.

"Anything that vendors can do to increase efficiency in the data center ... that's pretty important," he said.

Less power in the Max

Dell is also focused on energy efficiency. It is providing real-time energy and environmental monitoring as well as alerts based on usage. Through smart power distribution units, customers can monitor heat and humidity within each rack as well as the power draw for each device. Users can set thresholds for different variables.

Customers could see up to 2.8 times more performance per watt, which could add up to thousands in savings over time as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to Dell.

The new data reduction guarantee could add to reduced power consumption, Pearson said. Monitoring and reporting back the usage to administrators is helpful in tracking environmental, social and corporate governance goals, but more steps can be taken.

"What it doesn't do is create any sort of guarantee in terms of power consumption there -- there's no [power] reduction guarantee," Pearson said. He later added that Dell's end goal is likely to build toward that kind of guarantee, which would be attractive to customers.

Dell's increase in energy usage monitoring and decrease in power usage as it moves to all-flash arrays and reduces stored data positions the vendor to compete more directly with Pure Storage's high-end block storage offering, FlashArray//XL, according to Ellis.

"A lot of Pure's marketing is about how they are fine-tuning, how they deploy their arrays in order to save power and become more efficient," he said.

Dell's PowerMax has more market share than Pure's FlashArray//XL, but it is signaling to customers that it too can offer energy-efficient block storage products, Ellis said.

Security certifications and anomaly detection

The update to PowerMaxOS also highlights cyber-resiliency with two new certification updates: Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 for better authentication, and Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) compliance, a Department of Defense standard, for the new 2500 and 8500 models of PowerMax. Dell also introduced Cyber Intrusion Detection for z Systems to detect mainframe intrusions and anomaly detection in I/O patterns.

Supporting the later version of TLS and further STIG hardening aren't paradigm shifts in terms of security, but it could make Dell more attractive to government agencies such as the Department of Defense, Pearson said.

"It's critical for some of the biggest buyers in the U.S., and it's a great reference point for anybody that's not one of those buyers but wants to be thinking about resilience in the same kind of terms," he said.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at

Dig Deeper on Primary storage devices

Disaster Recovery
Data Backup
Data Center
and ESG