Dell EMC SC5020 Storage Array, Features & Review

The Dell EMC SC5020 suits the midrange storage portfolio of Dell EMC and is available in a number of configurations including HDD, SSD, and hybrid. Billed as a flexible SMB workhorse, the SC5020 doesn’t drop features/functionality to be competitive in price. In fact, the SC5020 is on par with the all-flash SC9000 we reviewed last year, in terms of capabilities. The differences are mainly around top-end performance specifications because the SC9000 has more RAM and CPU in the controllers and will, therefore, have a much higher performance threshold. For its part, the SC5020 uses a 3U chassis in an active/active configuration, with two hot-swappable controllers and 30 2.5′′ drive bays. The system can be expanded to support a further 192 drives with additional drive shelves, topping the SC5020 out at a maximum raw capacity of more than 2PB.

In the middle market to be appealing, arrays need to be scalable, powerful with good efficiency, and not break the bank. The SC5020 is taking some of those ideas very far ahead. From a versatile point of view, users can have flash storage and change anywhere from 0-100 percent as their needs and demands change. The SC5020 fits well into the environment of the Dell EMC, whether this is the direction a consumer wants to step in or for consumers who already have many other Dell EMC products under their wing. The greatest selling point, though, would be the efficiency of the array. The array uses automation and tiering to reduce performance costs, and smart data reduction to reduce capacity costs. RAID can be set on the same drive at multiple levels to aid in matching current activity or volume policies.

Benefits of Dell EMC SC5020 Storage Array

  • Deduplication and Compression: This device significantly reduces the raw capacity needed to store your vital data.
  • Data Progression: By using inexpensive storage media, you can achieve your IOPS goals with Dell EMC SC5020, even when efficiency requires improvements.
  • RAID tiering: This Dell storage array helps reduce exhausted manual supply by improving productivity and allowing space for maximized usage.
  • Persistent software licensing: Using Dell EMC SC5020 Storage Array, all your investments can be future-proof, thus minimizing the cost of storage upgrades and expansions.
  • Federation: Instant and seamless data movement operations can simplify all of your multi-array environments. Along with Volume Advisor, the app also provides constructive load control and balancing assistance through Live Migrate.
  • ProSupport Services: Dell EMC SC5020 provides users with the ability to reduce their deployment costs along with all the remote installation options, ensuring that the very first time their projects go successfully.

Dell EMC SC5020 Specifications

Form Factor 3U
Controllers 2 hot-swappable per chassis (active/active)
CPUs Intel Xeon Processor E5-2630 v3, 2.4GHz, 8 cores
Memory 128GB per SC5020 array (64GB per controller)
OS Dell Storage Center OS (SCOS) 7.2 or greater
Storage
Bays 30 x2.5”
Supported expansion enclosures Dell SC420: 24 x 2.5” drive bays (12Gb SAS) Dell SC400: 12 x 3.5” drive bays (12Gb SAS)
Max drive count 222 (30 internal, plus 192 external)
Max raw capacity 2PB per array
Max raw capacity (NAS) 2 PB per array with optional FS8600 ​4PB in single namespace (with FS8600 and multiple SC Series arrays)
Storage Media SAS and NL-SAS drives SSD: write-intensive and read-intensive drives ​HDD: 15K, 10K, 7.2K RPM
RAID support RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, RAID 10, and RAID 10 DM (Dual Mirror)
Front-end-network protocols FC, iSCSI, SAS
Ports Max 32Gb FC ports: 8 per array (SFP+) Max 16Gb FC ports: 8 per array (SFP+) Max 10Gb/1Gb iSCSI ports: Up to 8 SFP+ or BaseT ports per array Max 12Gb SAS ports: Up to 8 12Gb SAS7 ports Management ports: 2 per array (1Gb BASE-T) Back-end expansion protocols: 12Gb SAS Max back-end expansion ports: 4 per array Up to 16 expansion enclosures per array
Environmental
Operating temperature 50 – 95°F (10 – 35°C)
Non-operating temperature -40 – 149°F (-40 – 65°C)
Operating humidity ranges 10% to 80% with 29°C (84.2°F) maximum dew point
Non-operating humidity 5% to 95% with 33°C (91°F) maximum dew point
Power
Wattage 2 hot-swappable 1485W power supplies; 1485W maximum power
Heat dissipation 5,067 BTU/hr maximum
Voltage 200-240 VAC
Frequency 50/60Hz
Amperage 1485/100-14A, 1485/240-6.2A
Physical
HxWxD 13.33 x 44.5 x 78.5 cm (5.25 x 17.52 x 30.9 in)
Max weight 24.22 kg (53.4 lb)

Design and Build

The Dell EMC SC5020 is a 3U storage system that comes with one of the firm’s sleek bezels. The 30 hot-swap, 2.5 “drive bays are beneath the bezel. The power indicator, status indicator, and identification button are on the right-hand side of the device.

Flipping around to the back of the device one can easily see on either side the two power supplies and the fans. In the middle are the two storage controllers stacked one atop the other. Each controller has an I / O care slot, four iSCSI ports, two mini-SAS ports, a USB 2.0 port, a management port, and a serial port.

Performance

We leveraged a total of eight 16Gb FC ports connected via a dual 16Gb FC switch fabric across all of our performance testings.

Application Workload Analysis

The Dell EMC SC5020 workload benchmarks for the application consist of MySQL OLTP output with a simulated TPC-C workload via SysBench and Microsoft SQL Server OLTP. We had the array loaded with 30 800 GB Write Intensive SSDs in each case, using volumes provided with a storage profile for the Tier 1 RAID10. They then created four volumes, balanced across both storage controllers. This provided a balanced load for our SQL and Sysbench workloads in our test environment.

SQL Server Performance

Two vDisks are configured for each SQL Server VM: 100 GB volume for boot, and 500 GB volume for database and log files. We configured each VM from a system resource perspective with 16 vCPUs, 64 GB of DRAM and leveraged the LSI Logic SAS SCSI controller. Although our previously tested Sysbench workloads had saturated the platform in both storages I / O and power, the SQL test looks for consistency in latency.

This test uses SQL Server 2014 running on Windows Server 2012 R2 guest VMs, and Quest’s Benchmark Factory for Databases is stressing this. Although our typical use of this benchmark has been to check broad 3,000-scale local or shared storage databases, in this version we concentrate on equally distributing four 1,500-scale data bases around the storage collection.

SQL Server Testing Configuration (per VM)

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Storage Footprint: 600GB allocated, 500GB used
  • SQL Server 2014
  • Database Size: 1,500 scale
  • Virtual Client Load: 15,000
  • RAM Buffer: 48GB
  • Test Length: 3 hours
  • 2.5 hours preconditioning
  • 30 minutes sample period

SQL Server OLTP Benchmark Factory LoadGen Equipment

  • Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd Virtualized SQL 4-node Cluster
  • 8 Intel Xeon Gold 6130 CPU for 269GHz in cluster (Two per node, 2.1GHz, 16-cores, 22MB Cache)
  • 1TB RAM (256GB per node, 16GB x 16 DDR4, 128GB per CPU)
  • 4 x Emulex 16GB dual-port FC HBA
  • 4 x Mellanox ConnectX-4 NDC 25GbE dual-port NIC
  • VMware ESXi vSphere 6.5 / Enterprise Plus 8-CPU

The Dell EMC SC5020 reached an aggregate transactional score of 12,630.3 TPS for SQL Server, with individual VMs varying from 3,156.6 TPS to 3,158.5 TPS.

Sysbench Performance

Three vDisks are designed for each Sysbench VM: one for boot (~92 GB), one for the pre-built database (~447 GB) and the third for test database (~270 GB); From a system resource perspective, we configured 16 vCPUs, 60 GB of DRAM for each VM and leveraged the SCSI controller LSI Logic SAS. Dell R740xd servers are load gen systems.

VDBench Workload Analysis

Application testing is best when it comes to benchmarking storage arrays, and synthetic testing comes second. While not a perfect representation of actual workloads, synthetic tests help baseline storage devices with a repeatability factor that makes a comparison between competing solutions easy to do apples-to-apples. These workloads deliver a variety of different test profiles ranging from tests on “four corners,” common size transfer tests on databases, as well as trace, captures from different VDI environments. Both these tests leverage the popular vdBench workload generator, with a scripting engine to automate and collect results over a wide cluster of computing tests.

It allows us to replicate the same workloads through a wide variety of storage devices, including flash arrays and storage devices individually. On the array side, we use our Dell PowerEdge R740xd server cluster connected to eight volumes of Tier 1 RAID10 supplied from the Dell EMC SC5020.

Final Thoughts

The Dell EMC SC5020 is one of the company’s midrange storage arrays that can be configured in a hybrid setup with HDDs, SSDs and. The 3U SC5020 is designed for SMBs requiring higher performance and capacity rates, with a max raw of 2PB with expansion enclosures. The array provides 2 active / active hot-swappable controllers to HA. Through intelligent data reduction and RAID and storage tiering, the SC5020 can help customers lower costs and be more efficient to respond to current needs. And the latest SCOS update to 7.3 brings Unisphere into the list, which is a more streamlined Interface with more benefits.