Dell Intros Dedupe Appliance, Moves Compellent To 64-bit Software

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Dell on Wednesday introduced its first deduplication appliance based on its Ocarina technology and upgraded the software for its enterprise-class Compellent storage line with 64-bit technology.

The moves, along with others including a new storage solution for Microsoft SharePoint and new storage support for its own Force10 and for Brocade technology, were unveiled at the Dell Storage Forum, held this week in London.

The update's to Dell's storage lines come in the wake of several acquisitions in the last couple of years which have turned Dell from a developer of low-end storage and a reseller of EMC's enterprise storage to one of the top providers of enterprise-class storage based on its own intellectual property.

As a result, Dell now has a number of different technologies which it can start applying across its multiple storage lines, said Mike Davis, director of product marketing for NAS and back-up storage products at Dell.

"It will be a long process to bring these together with a common management platform," Davis said. "It's part of our five-year storage roadmap."

Dell has already taken its first steps towards unifying its storage technologies. The company in October started integrating networking technology from its August acquisition of networking vendor Force10 Networks into its Dell vStart virtualization infrastructure offering and added compression technology from its July, 2010 acquisition of Ocarina Networks into its DX Object Storage Platform.

At the London event, Dell unveiled Compellent Storage Center 6.0, the first major upgrade of the Compellent storage array's operating system since Dell acquired Compellent last year.

The biggest change is transition from the previous 32-bit architecture to a new 64-bit architecture, said Bob Fine, director of product marketing for Dell Compellent.

The new code base is also more agile than in the past with the ability to upgrade to new protocols such as SAS and FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) via plug-in cards, Fine said.

Dell has also added integration with CommVault's data protection software to provide improved resiliency of data stored on Compellent hardware.

Also new with Dell Compellent is enhanced integration with VMware for virtualized data center environments. This includes the addition of VMware vSphere storage APIs to speed up the deployment of virtual machines and significantly improve storage performance for data volumes shared by multiple virtual machines, Fine said.

The arrays also now support VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRA) 5 for automated failback from a disaster, as well as VMware technology for managing Compellent virtualized storage pools, he said.

The upgrade to the Compellent software is a big deal for Dell's customers, said Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and long-term Compellent partner.

"One thing competitors love to beat us up on is Compellent's 32-bit architecture," Winslow said. "Frankly, it's not a real big issue with customers. But it should mean a boost in performance. In general, it makes it more of a competitive threat in the enterprise storage market."

Patrick Mulvee, vice president of sales and marketing at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and long-term Compellent partner, said the upgrade is very welcome news.

"It's awesome, it's here, it's cool and great," Mulvee said. "This allows the Dell and Compellent software developers to do what they're great at: Create new features and functionality for the platform. It also allows us to win some bigger enterprise accounts."

Equally important is the fact that the upgrade, like all upgrades since Compellent first came to market, can be done by existing customer under maintenance contracts without changing the hardware, Mulvee said.

Next: Dell's New DR4000 Disk-based Dedupe Appliance

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