Dell Expands Blue Thunder Strategy Via Object Storage Partnership With Scality

Dell has expanded its software-defined storage offerings with a new relationship with object storage software developer Scality.

The addition of the Scality Ring petabyte-scale storage software to Dell's storage arsenal is the latest move by Dell as part of its "Blue Thunder" strategy of working with multiple third-party software-defined storage vendors whose solutions work with Dell hardware.

Dell will offer San Francisco-based Scality's Ring software with its own Dell storage and server hardware, said Travis Vigil, executive director for Dell storage.

[Related: Dell's Two-Part Plan: Merge Storage Platforms, Develop 'Blue Thunder' Software-Defined Storage]

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"The combination will result in an exceptional system for multi-petabyte storage," Vigil told CRN.

Dell's Blue Thunder software-defined strategy includes partnering with a number of companies offering software-defined storage technology, or at least software which can be used with Dell hardware to perform storage services.

Partners include Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nexenta, in which Dell has an equity stake; San Jose, Calif.-based hyper-converged infrastructure technology developer Nutanix; Red Hat for its OpenStack cloud and Ceph open source storage; Cloudera's Hadoop technology for big data; Microsoft; and VMware.

While the Scality Ring software works with any Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell will initially offer best practice guides for a couple of specific configurations, Vigil said.

This includes configurations using the Dell R630 server in combination with the Dell MD3060E JBOD ("just a bunch of disks" non-intelligent arrays), which offers space for 60 drives in a 4U space. The best practice guides also cover the high-density Dell R730xd servers, he said.

The Dell R630 and R730xd servers are also the base for Dell's hyper-converged infrastructure platforms based on the Nutanix software stack.

Dell is reselling the Scality software, and may do joint sales with Scality, Vigil said. That includes sales through Dell's channel partners.

"With our software-defined solutions to data, we're seeing traction across both direct sales and channel partners," Vigil said. "We expect to see a typical channel mix, with 30 to 40 percent sales through the channel."

Scality Chief Operating Officer Erwan Menard told CRN that Scality Ring brings the kind of scalable object storage capabilities to the channel that are offered by such Web-scale companies as Google and Facebook.

"For us, working with Dell is important," Menard said. "We already meet in the field where we work with Dell servers. And Dell has a really strong commitment to software-defined storage with its server and JBOD offerings."

The Scality Ring software is designed to work with standard Linux-based servers, Menard said.

Scality also has a similar relationship with Dell rival Hewlett-Packard, he said.

"Any partner of Scality has the opportunity to take advantage of our technology," he said. "Every server vendor has the opportunity to differentiate their products."

Dell will continue a relationship it has with Austin, Texas-based Caringo, which also offers object storage capabilities, Vigil said. "They focus on different use cases," he said.

Menard said the Scality offering is best when customers have tens or hundreds of petabytes of capacity that need to be put on disk and made available, including in research, high-performance computing, and media and entertainment workloads.

One Dell partner who requested anonymity because he had not yet seen the Scality solution told CRN that Dell has done a good job of making a wide variety of software-defined storage technologies available to channel partners, including in niche markets.

"It fills the needs of a smaller piece of the storage pie," the solution provider said. "Most customers don't really need the kind of capacity offered by Scality. But we have potential clients."

While software-defined storage offerings work well with a variety of servers, Dell has done an especially good job of making the technology work with its Blue Thunder strategy, the solution provider said.

"Software-defined storage works well with Dell hardware," the solution provider said. "Do customers have a hardware preference? If they can afford it, they'll buy Dell."