Dell Partners With Scality On High-Density Object Storage

Dell has expanded its stable of software-defined storage technology partnerships with the addition of a new appliance featuring the object storage software stack of Scality.

Dell this week is planning to unveil the Dell SD7000-S, a high-density storage solution that features the Scality Ring file and object storage architecture.

The Dell SD7000-S can be configured with up to 172 TBs per rack unit of space, said Bob Fine, director of product marketing for Dell storage.

[Related: Dell Updates 13th-Gen Servers With Broadwell CPU, Improved Software-Defined Storage]

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The Dell SD7000-S, which is based on Dell's 13th-generation PowerEdge server technology, is a complete hardware and software solution for object storage, Fine told CRN.

"Customers don't want DIY [do it yourself]," he said. "While the solutions customers do by themselves work most of the time, they want solutions that work all of the time."

Jerome Lecat, Scality CEO, told CRN his company's software differs from existing Dell software-defined storage solutions, and from solutions offered by other vendors, in the sheer scalability it offers.

The software addresses the need by companies that are born digital or become digital to store a lot of data on high-density solutions, Lecat said.

"Typical file system problems start when dealing with in excess of 100,000 files," he said "Our customers are already storing a total of 800 billion objects. That's a crazy number. Our largest customer has over 80 billion objects. Another customer handles single files with 1 petabyte of capacity. Those are crazy numbers."

In addition to getting a ready-to-use object storage appliance with the Dell SD7000-S, customers also get the benefits of working with a software license for their object storage requirements, Lecat said.

"As an appliance ages, customers can get new hardware and then just transfer the software license," he said. "With software-defined storage, customers get long-term licenses with the benefits of a preconfigured appliance."

The partnership with San Francisco-based Scality is the latest addition to Dell's Blue Thunder software-defined storage strategy, under which Round Rock, Texas-based Dell works with multiple vendors of hyper-converged and software-defined storage technology.

That strategy aims to provide alternatives to customers looking to step away from traditional storage solutions, Fine said.

"For years, Dell has done traditional storage architectures," he said. "We've made changes to increase performance and scalability. But we're hearing from customers that are looking for new IT environments. They want to get away from the cost and complexity of traditional data center infrastructures."

The Dell SD7000-S is built on Dell's DSS 7000 server platform, which solution providers first got to see at last year's Dell World, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner.

"We all thought this was the perfect platform for software-defined storage," Tanenhaus told CRN. "It works for scale-out, object and block storage. This is important for areas like research and data lakes."

There is a definite need for solutions like the SD7000-S, Tanenhaus said.

"The biggest barrier to object storage has been the interface," he said. "Everybody knows block storage, volumes, LUNs and so on. They understand file storage. But object storage has been harder. Some people add a file-based storage front, or custom front ends, or other interfaces."

That had been the situation with Dell, Tanenhaus said. "Dell's earlier attempts at object storage didn't have a clean interface. Scality is different. The Scality Ring software makes it easy to get your arms around object storage."

With the adoption of Scality's software-defined object storage solution to its product line card, Dell is taking advantage of technology funded in part by archrival Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which in January unveiled an equity investment in Scality along with plans to develop and sell solutions including the Scality Ring software and HPE's Apollo server line.

Fine said he sees not conflict in working with a company like Scality that is so closely tied to HPE. "We believe we have the best technology in whatever we do," he said. "And companies like Microsoft work with competing partners all the time."