Dell Intros New Entry-Level Compellent Storage, High-Density EqualLogic Storage

Dell on Wednesday expanded its storage solutions line card with a new entry-level version of its Compellent technology and a high-density EqualLogic technology. In addition, the company introduced a new software-defined storage solution in partnership with Microsoft Storage Spaces.

Dell's enhanced storage offerings come at a time when the storage market is dealing with two architectures, including the traditional architecture based on hardware and the new software-defined architecture where hardware is less important, said Travis Vigil, executive director of product management for Dell storage.

"The nice thing about this new version is it shows Dell is committed to both approaches," Vigil told CRN. "We're looking at how to make current architectures fast and affordable while looking at how to drive the adoption of software-defined storage."

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New to the Dell storage lineup is the SCv2000, an entry-level version of Dell's Compellent solution with a starting price of about $14,000. Vigil said it offers common management features of the company's higher-end SC4000 series and SC8000 series, as well as the same Storage Center software stack.

The small letter "v" in the SCv2000 name signifies "value," Vigil said. "But the focus is on price performance and data-protection features for SMB customers," he said. "Some capabilities like synchronous replication are not included, as those are higher-end features for more enterprise customers."

Even so, the SCv2000 includes at no charge the ability to manage up to 2,000 snapshots and 500 replications, Vigil said. Also included are RAID tiering, thin provisioning, flash storage support, and options for Fibre Channel, iSCSI, SAS, and both Fibre Channel and iSCSI connectivity, he said.

There are three models in the SCv2000 family, including a 2U model with up to 12 3.5-inch drives, a 2U model with up to 24 2.5-inch drives and a 5U model with up to 84 3.5-inch drives. Pricing starts at $14,000 with 2 TB of capacity and three years of support, Vigil said.

The SCv2000 provides a new lower entry point to the Compellent technology, which is a good move to help Dell's channel, said Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner.

"We can now drop [off] a Compellent solution to a customer for under $20,000," Clifford told CRN. "That becomes a remote branch office. You can now put SANs in places where they couldn't be put before."

The new lower-priced SAN now gives remote-office and branch-office users an alternative to higher-priced hyper-converged infrastructure offerings, Clifford said. "We now have multiple ways to reach such customers."

Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner, said that new technologies, such as the cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure, are evolving around SMB customers in a big way, but SMBs are still constrained by cost.

"A hyper-converged infrastructure solution is priced starting in the $80,000 to $100,000 range," Tanenhaus told CRN. "Dell is setting the price for its SCv2000 starting in the sub-$20,000 range. The total solution with servers and networking is still well below $50,000. So if cost is a major driver, and the cloud is not an option, this new model presents alternatives not available before."

SMB customers, or those with remote or branch offices, might have looked to a Dell PowerVault or a Hewlett-Packard MSA before, Tanenhaus said. "But this is Compellent coming in at this price point," he said. "You get tiering and other features that are the hallmark of Compellent."

Also new from Dell is the PS6610, a new high-density version of Dell's PS series of arrays, which are based on Dell's 2008 acquisition of iSCSI storage vendor EqualLogic.

The PS6610 provides 3.5 times the capacity, 2.8 times the density and seven times the performance of the previous PS6510, Vigil said. "It's our most dense PS-series array to date," he said.

The PS6610, which can be configured with up to 500 TB of raw capacity in a 5U footprint, also includes a new version of the PS-series Array Software operating system, Vigil said.

The Array Software 8.0 allows compression of snapshots and data replicates to save up to 50 percent of required capacity, and supports VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOLs) to shift customer focus from storage LUNs to more of a VMware-aware offering, he said.

Also included in the software is Smart Tags to allow multiple items to be managed as a group, and making daily snapshots a default capability, he said.

Clifford said the new PS6610 proves that the old EqualLogic storage line is not dead. "It has a huge installed base," he said. "Dell is showing that these people will be taken care of."

Tanenhaus said the Dell PS-series has not been a big part of his company's business. However, given his company's move to start working closely with OpenStack clouds, the high density of the PS6610 makes it an attractive offering, he said.

"Dell's reference architecture for OpenStack includes the PS-series," he said.

Also new from Dell is the addition of Microsoft Storage Spaces to its storage portfolio.

Microsoft Storage Spaces, which is Microsoft's version of software-defined storage technology, joins other similar offerings from Nexenta and Nutanix as a way to give customers a choice of software-defined capabilities, Vigil said.

"We're focusing on providing the right solution for customer workloads," he said. "Our FX series, based on Nutanix software, is targeted at VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure]. The Nexenta software is targeted at large-scale data repositories. And Microsoft Storage Spaces will be aimed at Microsoft deployments and clouds."

Dell's partnership with Microsoft Storage Spaces shows Dell's commitment to the software-defined storage technology, and gives it a competitive edge, Clifford said.

"Software-defined storage could be incredibly disruptive," he said. "Will Microsoft come out with something disruptive? Could be. I don't know. But think about Hyper-V. At first, it was pretty good. Now it's an industry-leading technology."

Microsoft Storage Spaces gives customers in the cloud a good alternative to other storage technologies, Tanenhaus said. "If a customer is in an OpenStack environment, they should be able to use open source Ceph technology," he said. "But in a Microsoft-centric environment, it makes sense to use Microsoft Storage Spaces."