Dell Outlines Software-Defined Storage Strategy, With Compellent, Nexenta Playing Key Roles


Dell, which has made several acquisitions to become one of the top SMB and enterprise storage vendors, is looking to take its software-defined storage strategy to the next level.

Dell is combining its server technology with storage technology from its Compellent and EqualLogic product lines, as well as technology from third-party vendors, to establish a base in the still-nascent software-defined storage market, Travis Vigil, executive director of product management for Dell storage, said in a recent interview.

There is a lot of hype around software-defined storage, but it's an industry trend that Dell takes seriously, Vigil told CRN.

[Related: Is Software-Defined Storage For Real Or A Lot Of Hot Air?]

"The software-defined enterprise is a key industry trend, and there's an evolution going on related to how companies are deploying enterprise infrastructures in the future," Vigil said. "IT is evolving to a software-defined solution in which the server is at the center of the infrastructure."

Software-defined storage pulls the kinds of storage services performed by typical storage hardware, including such functions as deduplication, replication, snapshots and thin provisioning, out of the hardware and into a software layer which can then be deployed on top of industry-standard server hardware.

Dell's software-defined strategy will likely be a major theme next week in Miami at the Dell User Forum, formerly known as the Dell Enterprise Forum.

Software-defined storage is becoming increasingly important as customers try to find ways to manage ever-growing data stores while driving down costs, said Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul-based solution provider and longtime Dell channel partner.

"What Dell is trying to do is abstract storage technology from the hardware, and make it into a true virtualized environment," Clifford told CRN.

Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and longtime Dell channel partner, told CRN that there are so many different approaches to software-defined storage, and that Dell's approach to decoupling storage and networking from hardware paves the way for the future.

"Dell is making sure it's ready for the next wave," Tanenhaus said. "What will the next two to three years look like, we don't know. So Dell's getting ready now. Dell in the cloud or via software-defined whatever is concerned more about moving to manage the data rather than providing any particular solution."

NEXT: Broad Dell Approach To Software-defined Storage