Compellent Introduces Entry-level ILM Bundle

The Minneapolis-based vendor on Monday unveiled QuickStart ILM, a channel-only appliance consisting of its Storage Center software, which includes such capabilities as data snapshots, thin provisioning, and automated classification and migration data based on how often it is used, said Bruce Kornfeld, vice president of marketing.

Thin provisioning allows a storage administrator to allocate more capacity to a specific application or user than is physically available under the assumption that not all those applications and users will need the entire allocated space simultaneously. This allows extra physical capacity to be installed at a later date as the total amount of space actually used approached the storage device's capacity.

That software has been married to a storage device that allows the mixing of high-end and midrange Fibre Channel drives and SATA drives in a single enclosure in order to allow multi-tiered storage in one appliance, Kornfeld said.

The result is an entry-level ILM solution which allows files or blocks of data which are not often accessed to be migrated to slower by lower-cost disk capacity while data that is often accessed is stored in high-speed, relatively expensive drives, Kornfeld said.

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The key distinction between Compellent and other solutions, Kornfeld said, is the ability to migrate blocks of data instead of being limited to migrating entire files.

"We track the usage of data blocks," he said. "As a block sits idle for a while, it moves to another tier. We are the only company to span a file across multiple tiers."

The advantage of spanning a file across multiple tiers is especially relevant to large data bases, where it is possible to put frequently-access rows of data on high-speed storage and less-frequently-access rows on low-cost storage, Kornfeld said. The user defines whether data is classified as frequently-accessed, he said.

Compellent's QuickStart ILM solution can be set up for automated movement of files or blocks in minutes, Kornfeld said. Customers can make changes to the setting on-the fly, he said.

He contrasted this to a traditional ILM system which might require a customer to purchase four or more different applications to inventory the data, classify the data, move it, and monitor performance, all of which might require 90 days or more to set up. Pete Sperling, storage practice manager at ClearNorth Technologies, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based solution provider which works with Compellent, said that Compellent's software has already proven itself in terms of being able to bring the benefits of multi-tiered storage.

"Even with databases that are hit really hard, 30 percent to 40 percent of the data can be migrated downward," Sperling said. "That lets customers purchase tiered storage with less expensive disks."

The QuickStart ILM bundle has a starting list price of $49,500, including the software and a mixture of high-speed and mid-tier Fibre Channel disks totaling 6.4 Tbytes.

That price compares to between $60,000 and $70,000 before the bundle was introduced, said Sperling. "Putting the two tiers of storage in a single enclosure by itself saves a lot of money, up to $6,000 for the cost of the second enclosure," he said.