Dell's storage vision: From reseller to innovator

Fluid Data goes external

Exanet everywhere

Dell will add Exanet-based file system capabilities to its PowerVault, EqualLogic, Compellent and, maybe, DX6000, arrays to provide filer versions of each of these product lines to be sold alongside the existing block versions. The company hopes to do this by the mid-point of this year. A scale-out NAS (network-attached storage) offering, using the Exanet IP, is expected to be introduced by the end of June and to scale up to 64 times more than NetApp. This will be for customers currently attracted to EMC Isilon, IBM SONAS and HP X9000 offerings.

There will be a single management layer across all Dell's storage product lines. The Fluid DataArchitecture idea will be extended out from Compellent's arrays to cover all Dell's storage offerings with the idea that data can be moved between the arrays, both block and file. It can be moved between primary block and file storage arrays to help with load-balancing or as part of a replication and business continuity/disaster recovery offering. It can be moved from these arrays to a disk-based data protection offering, which it seems pretty clear Dell will introduce, although no timescales have been suggested for that.

Data can be moved to Dell's DX6000 archival storage line as it ages. It can be moved to Dell cloud storage offerings taken up by cloud service providers.

What about the resold EMC CLARiiON and VNX arrays? The resale will continue and will help with migration, into Dell's own storage line we understand, as that is bulked out.

Dell becomes really innovative

What we have here is Dell's own storage vision taking shape, with the company being very much more innovative with primary technology than it has been in the past. It is also becoming a much more serious enterprise player storage-wise, and we can't help thinking that this storage set of developments is only part of a wider and converged IT infrastructure offering that Dell is developing.

We will be watching out specifically for a data mover/data management acquisition or partnership, a disk-based data protection product announcement, an Exanet scale-out NAS product announcement, a cloud storage platform announcement, and larger Compellent arrays as well as a major refresh of Compellent's array operating system. We will also be alert of the Ocarina-isation of Dell's storage products and the spread of Exanet filesystem product versions up and down Dell's storage product line.

This is a huge undertaking. If Dell can pull it off then Michael Dell will have worked a near miraculous transformation of Dell from the world's pre-eminent box-shifter to an integrated systems-focussed IT company able to take on HP, IBM and others, as well as EMC, HDS and NetApp in purer storage plays. That will be an amazing shift for a multi-billion dollar IT vendor to make. ®

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