Dell EqualLogic announced the next generation of its 10Gbps Ethernet storage arrays, the PS6110 and PS4110 Series, which are tailored for using the iSCSI protocol to take advantage of traditional LANs for storage traffic.

The company also announced new EqualLogic Host Integration Tools software updates for Microsoft Server 2008 and Linux that allow admins to take data snapshots of server clusters and see their entire storage environment from a single console.

Dell EqualLogic's upgraded storage arrays are a follow-up to the company's first midrange arrays, the PS4100 and PS6100 lines, which were announced last year. Neither of the new arrays meets that same less than £6,000 price tag.

The new Dell EqualLogic PS6110 Series is positioned as a mid-range array for data centres with multiple physical or virtual servers. The arrays are configured with both optical (SFP+) and copper (10GBASE-T) 10GbE networking. They can scale up to 72TB in a single array and 1.2 petabytes in a single cluster.

The new EqualLogic PS4110 Series is Dell's first entry-level array with 10GbE ports. Its features are similar to the PS6110 Series, but it is designed for smaller deployments and remote office locations. The systems support up to 36TB in a single array and 72TB in a single group.

The arrays also support Data Center Bridging technology, which performs I/O load balancing and throttling to deter network saturation that could result in performance slowdowns and dropped data packets. "The technology means you're better able to put different types of traffic on your traditional network," said Travis Vigil, a product marketing executive for Dell EqualLogic.

Network convergence is big business for Dell. The iSCSI protocol represents a $3 billion (£1.9 billion) market today, of which Dell claims 30%. Enabling iSCSI to run over either copper or fibre networks is key to allowing users to tap their existing infrastructures without having to deploy more expensive Fibre Channel networks.

"Since the acquisition of EqualLogic in 2007, we've scaled from 8,000 units to 80,000 units in the field today," Vigil said. "We expect to see the adoption of 10GbE to increase with the trends we're seeing in the data center."

The Dell EqualLogic software portfolio includes more extensive management software, integration tools for VMware and new versions of Host Integration Tools for Microsoft and Host Integration Tools for Linux. Those integration tools give users automated data tiering across varying drive types and I/O load balancing capabilities.

Laz Vekiarides, executive director of software engineering for Dell EqualLogic, said the software upgrade allows a single management console for managing snapshots across server clusters, both physical and virtual.

"For example, we will do snapshot of all servers using Hyper-V. Before, it had to be done manually on each server, forcing you to take 16 different snapshots for 16-node cluster," he said. "This also brings a completely new use case to the Linux server community."