Dell doubles down on Compellent storage

When Dell Inc. got into the enterprise storage market two years ago by buying Compellent Technologies it wanted to make a statement that it was broadening its portfolio.

At its Enterprise Forum customer and partner event on Wednesday the company increased the capability of the line by revealing the Compellent SC280, which Dell says is the densest enclosure of any storage vendor, as well as upgraded its Storage Center software for the Compellent line to let customers mix two types of solid state hard drives in its enclosures.

Combined the changes offer “dramatically improved performance” and a lot more density in Compellent systems, said Bob Fine, Dell’s storage product director.

Compellent systems handle both block and file-based storage in storage area network or network attached storage configurations.

The SC280 can holds up to 84 3.5-inch solid state or rotating drives in five racks with a total of 336 Terabytes – just over twice as much as the sized SC8600, which holds 24 2.5-inch drives in two racks.

The SC280, which comes with a controller, can be intermixed with the SC8600.

Like the earlier model, SC280 customers can chose controllers, interface cards, shelf size and size of drives.

The SC280 will be available in the third quarter. Pricing wasn’t announced.
(A Dell official puts a drive in an SC280 enclosure. Dell photo)

As for Storage Center, version 6.4 of the firmware allows organizations with Compellent systems to for the first time use SLC and MLC solid-state drives in the same system as well as traditional rotating drives thanks to intelligent tiering.

SLC (single-level cell) drives are fast, reliable and expensive. MLC (multilevel cell) drives hold more data and SLC drives are more reliable and less expensive—but they’re slower.

Organizations usually have to chose between one or the other, said Fine. But with intelligent tiering in the new firmware, they can buy a small number of SLC drives for high performance needs while storing most data on MLC drives.

This capability is aimed at organizations using Compellant for block storage of data like databases.

For companies that use Compellent systems for file storage (such as video and text), Dell also said it later this year it will upgrade its Fluid File System to version 3, which will support 2 Petabytes in a single namespace, twice as much as the existing software.

The new version will also support the SMB 2.1 and NFS 4.0 protocols.

In addition, it includes deduplication, which eliminates duplicate files for an up to 50 per cent saving in storage space.

The capability will be policy-based, so IT departments can decide how and when dedupe will be initiated.

Fluid File System 3 will be available in the fourth quarter.

Dell also said will soon enable its systems to work with Intel’s recently announced distribution of Apache Hadoop. Dell’s Crowbar open source framework for running Hadoop on its PowerEdge C servers already integrates with Hadoop. It will integrate with the Intel distribution later this year.


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