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Compellent storage grid is on its way

About this Live Volume thingamyjiggery

High performance access to file storage

Compellent is taking its arrays into grid-based storage for cloud computing. Its fourth generation storage controller and Live Volume "storage hypervisor" deliver the foundation for grid storage arrays deployed within and between data centres for cloud-based computing storage access.

Storage Center 5.4 aggressively increases controller CPU power from the previous dual core 3.0GHz Xeon 5160 design to a dual socket, quad core, Nehalem-class processor, providing eight more powerful cores than the current two, quadrupling controller horsepower, perhaps increasing it sixfold. What is all this extra controller horsepower needed for?

There are six PCI slots available to customers, rather than the five previously available, so an additional Fibre Channel interface card could be plugged in to create more FCAL-linked disk drives. There can be seven drive enclosures per loop. While maintaining support for Fibre Channel and 3Gbit/s SAS disk and solid state drives, Compellent now offers 6Gbit/s SAS drives, with 24 X 2.5-inch drives in a 2U enclosure, each drive having four 6Gbit/s lanes.

There is also support for 3.5-inch 6Gbit/s SAS drives, with 12 in an enclosure, and a new array interface – Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) – joining 10GbitE iSCSI. One and 2TB 3.5-inch, 7,000rpm, 6Gbit/s SAS drives are supported plus 146GB, 15,000rpm drives, or 10,000rpm drives with either 450GB or 600GB capacity. The 3.5inch drives come in a 3U enclosure holding 16 drives.

Compellent will now provide Cisco CNAs and Nexus switches to link servers to its arrays and take advantage of these protocols. The switch options include Cisco MDS 9148, Nexus 5010 and 5020, MDS 95xx directors supporting 8GBit/s FC, and Brocade TurboIron-24x and Cisco Catalyst 3560-X and 3750-E switches.

The 5.4 controller has a battery-less cache card to cope with power outages and save data.

The new controller can be used by existing Compellent customers with no need for a software licence change. It represents a significant increase in controller processing power and leaves a door wide open to add more functionality.

Product Marketing Director Bob Fine said: "Storage Center 5.4 first in a series of things to come … Live Volume (see below) will make it easier for companies to scale out and move data between systems on demand for dynamic business continuity. Over time, we will continue to make further product enhancements that will allow us to further penetrate the enterprise market.  ... we're in the enterprise today and our planned roadmap and investments will continue this progress."

We are rapidly moving into the DS8000/VSP/VMAX area … We'll have additional announcements … There's no need to change our architecture to do this."

Is a traditional dual-controller storage array design capable enough for enterprise use? Gartner Research Director for storage technologies and strategies Valdis Filks said: "Technically yes, multi-controller systems do have a saleability and reliability edge, but not all customers need this level of scale and two controller storage systems are good enough for most users. The usage of multi-core CPUs in today's controllers make the traditional two controller physical storage array virtually a multi-controller storage array.  The smarts is in the array O/S or software nowadays."

Enterprise Manager

With Enterprise Manager, Compellent now has a multi-site management tool enabling sysadms to oversee multiple storage arrays in any number of physical locations. They can initiate replication between arrays, access server virtualisation infrastructure and manage any number of Live Volumes between Compellent systems. All the Live Volumes can be managed through a single interface, with Compellent saying this means sysadms can manage multiple data centres in a virtualised grid of [Compellent] storage arrays.

A VMware vSphere 4.1 client plug-in allows VMware users to manage Compellent storage through the vSphere interface. A Storage Adapter for Citrix StorageLink lets sysadms create and recover storage for Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer virtual machines. Integration with Citrix StorageLink Site Recovery simplifies the setup and configuration of disaster recovery protection of Hyper-V workloads through integration with Compellent thin provisioning, snapshots and thin replication.

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Live Volume

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