Compellent Updates Storage Center Virtualization Array

Compellent Technologies Tuesday rolled out a new version of its Storage Center virtualization array with the ability to build a storage grid for running and migrating a data volume between two nodes for continuous availability.

Compellent also unveiled new Storage Center management software that allows VMware vSphere 4.1 to manage its storage in virtualized environments and a controller that allows customers to upgrade the performance and capabilities of arrays installed as far back as 2005.

The most significant part of Compellent's Storage Center 5.4 is Live Volume, which allows a single storage volume to work across two Compellent arrays, said Scott DesBles, director of technical solutions for the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based storage vendor. Live Volume ties together the two Storage Center arrays to simultaneously run the same data volume on both, DesBles said. "This works like VMware's Vmotion," he said. "You can virtualize the volume across two systems and migrate it as needed."

The arrays can act as the primary or secondary node, with the primary designation going to whichever is experiencing the heavier volume of input/output requests, DesBles said. "If the I/O pattern changes, the designation changes," he said.

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Storage Center 5.4 also allows multiple systems to be tied together in such a way that a data volume can be migrated to other systems within the grid as needed, DesBles said.

Compellent solution providers called Live Volume a good next step in adding flexibility to customer data centers.

Patrick Mulvee, vice president of sales and marketing at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-solution provider and Compellent partner, said his customers can choose between using Compellent's data replication technology for long-distance high availability or Live Volume for flexible data migration.

"Live Volume works like Vmotion does for virtual servers," Mulvee said. "It's great when you want to do maintenance on an array, or update one, or have storage equipment with the same data running on separate power systems."

Paul Clifford, principal at Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and Compellent partner, said Live Volume is receiving a lot of interest from customers but it is still early in terms of widespread sales. The idea of has a lot of appeal, Clifford said, but live migration of data volumes requires bandwidth that many customers don’t have.

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"It still needs a lot of bandwidth," Clifford said. "A T1 line won't work. If you are going to have a grid between New York and London, you need serious bandwidth. But if you have a metro system, or a campus system, this will work really cool."

The more important message is really what customers can expect in the future, Clifford said. "If Live Volume works now across two arrays, maybe in the near future you could see volumes sitting on multiple arrays, so I could build and tune a massive data center with failover and not worry about a system going down," he said.

In addition to Live Volume, Storage Center 5.4 has a new software feature called Enterprise Manager for managing multiple storage arrays over any number of physical locations.

Enterprise Manager manages replication and Live Volume and lets customers access virtualized server environments. It also includes a VMware vSphere 4.1 client plug-in that lets customers manage Compellent storage through the vSphere interface, DesBles said.

In addition, DesBles said, Compellent upgraded its hardware with a new controller, the Series 40, which significantly increases I/O performance. With the Series 40, customers can add more high-performance hard drives, including new 2.5-inch drives with 10,000-rpm and 15,000-rpm performance, and new higher-capacity 3.5-inch models, he said.

Most important is the ability for customers to seamlessly upgrade existing controllers -- as far back as 2005 -- with a new controller to get the latest features, including Live Volume, he said.

"At the enterprise, some customers question whether Compellent controllers are ready for enterprise apps," he said. "We've not found this to be an issue. But the new controllers take away the question."

One of Davenport's customers, the South Carolina Attorney General's office, had Series 20 controllers installed four years ago and was planning to upgrade so the release of the Series 40 was just in time, Clifford said.

"They're smiling," he said. "They have the data infrastructure already in place and can now upgrade their performance."

The new Compellent software and hardware are available immediately through solution provider partners.