Dell has announced a new line of network storage products that the company claims are easy to install and manage. The move follows Dell's acquisition of EqualLogicannounced last November.

Targeted at small to medium businesses, the Dell EqualLogic PS5000 Series of arrays includes controllers, disks and chassis with 16-bay enclosures that are scalable to store up to 192TB of data and execute up to 60,000 transactions at once, said Brad Anderson, senior vice president of Dell's business product group.

The product can be plugged into existing IT infrastructure and be up and running rapidly, in some cases under an hour, Anderson said. It is also compatible with existing EqualLogic systems.

The arrays operate over a SAN using the iSCSI interconnect protocol to transfer data and manage networked storage.

Because storage disks can be attached on the fly, system administrators don't have to plan the amount of storage needed, saving money and resources in the long run, said Praveen Asthana, director of enterprise storage at Dell.

On installation, software that comes with the arrays senses network topology, conducts a system health check and ensures that components are fully functional before serving up storage on a network. Software included with the array manages virtualised storage to provide optimised performance. This includes load balancing by shifting storage loads between arrays and by provisioning data to prevent poor utilisation of disks.

With remote replication capabilities over IP networks, the software enables continuous access to data, protecting potential data loss from disaster or system failures, Anderson said.

Few SMBs have storage specialists on staff to set up and manage storage, so it makes sense for them to adopt iSCSI arrays to consolidate storage, said Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. Familiar technologies like IP communication and the iSCSI interconnect protocol make iSCSI SAN products easy to install and operate, Karp said.

In addition, the arrays make it easier for users to squeeze maximum value from network storage, he said.

The initial products will come in three models. The EqualLogic PS5000E iSCSI Array supports up to 16 SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) II drives with up to 1TB of storage per drive. The Dell EqualLogic PS5000XV and EqualLogic PS5000X iSCSI arrays support up to 16 SAS (serial-attached SCSI) drives with varying storage capacities.

The new arrays come just five days after Dell finally completed the $1.4 billion acquisition.

EqualLogic has offered solid iSCSI arrays with virtualisation management capabilities in the past and the new product is no different, Karp said. With Dell, EqualLogic products will be largely distributed - though it may take a few months until Dell's staff is fully trained to support the products.

Dell is already offering iSCSI-based storage products to SMBs through its partnership with EMC. It is a good revenue stream for Dell, and the company will not turn it off to exclusively sell EqualLogic products, Karp said. Dell will find a balance to sell both products, he said.