Compellent Creates Unified Storage With ZFS Controller

Compellent has expanded its unified storage product line with zNAS, a new controller based on the Oracle-Sun ZFS technology that integrates NAS capabilities its Storage Center appliance.

The new zNAS solution helps customers address the explosion of unstructured data such as videos and images by allowing them to be stored in their original file format using their existing Compellent storage capacity, said Bob Fine, director of product marketing for the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based vendor.

"Customers love Compellent, but need a way to address file growth," Fine said.

ZFS is an open source file system. It is one of the most widely-deployed enterprise-class file systems in the world thanks to its adoption by Sun Microsystems for Solaris and Open Solaris.

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Compellent is partnering on ZFS with Nexenta Systems, a Portland, Ore.-based company which adds a management layer on top of ZFS, Fine said.

"We worked together to customize their management tools so they work with our management tools, and then used it to update the Compellent interface," he said.

The zNAS code is contained in a boot image on a separate 1U rack mount appliance that connects to Storage Center, which Fine called a more efficient and faster way to run the file system than booting it on individual servers. The appliance has no internal storage capacity, but comes with either 24 GB or 48 GB of memory to handle any ZFS performance issues.

Next: zNAS Can Be Used To Upgrade Storage Center Appliances z

NAS can be used to upgrade all Storage Center storage appliances installed since about 2006. Because of Compellent's perpetual licensing model, customers do not need to purchase or upgrade any software licenses to add zNAS, Fine said.

zNAS is expected to ship in late June, Fine said. Later this year, it will be updated with data deduplication capabilities with help from Nexenta.

zNAS can be appealing to customers who are looking for ways to bring their NAS and SAN storage into a unified system, said Patrick Mulvee, vice president of sales and marketing at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and Compellent partner.

Sidepath will be taking zNAS to its 50-plus Compellent customers who until now have had to rely on other vendors such as NetApp for NAS storage, Mulvee said.

"Before they heard of Compellent, they always had NAS," he said. "Now they can do it all with Compellent, and can save money with Compellent's perpetual licensing agreements."

Mulvee explained that a typical customer who has had a NetApp NAS appliance for three years may be looking to purchase a new model, which also requires a whole new set of software licenses.

"Instead, with Compellent, they can just add two zNAS controllers to their system, and leverage their existing disk storage," he said.