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Dell sprays hot fluid data across storage products

Delivers 4 from Texas – Backup, SharePoint and SAN storage get the focus

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Dell's fluid data is travelling faster and further, with its first Data Domain replacement box, a SharePoint object storage system, and more capable Compellent SANs that better support VMware and have faster network links.

Fluid data is Dell's concept of having data stored, manageable, protected and accessible across its Compellent (FC SAN), EqualLogic (ISCSI SAN), PowerVault (entry-level) and DX6000 (object storage) arrays, with scale-out NAS (Exanet) and data reduction technology (Ocarina) available independently and across the four platforms.

The company aims to provide dynamic tiering, native cloud integration, scale-out designs, storage efficiency and other features forming its fluid data concept across its storage products so users get consistent features and ownership experiences across them.

Specifically tiering will be extended from its availability within individual platforms today to taking it cross-platform, adding file tiering, cloud tiering, and treating cache in servers as a tier.

Dell storage will support open standards. The company says it will work better when integrated with Dell servers and networking than with other vendors' servers and networking products. The mantra is "better together".

Today, at its Storage Forum in London, Dell is introducing its first disk-to-disk backup product using Ocarina technology, the DR4000; version 6 of the Compellent SAN software which moves from 32-bit to 64-bit addressing; a SharePoint backup and archiving system based on the the DX6000, and software from AvePoint; and support for 16Gbit/s Fibre Channel and 10Gbit/s Ethernet switching products.

DR4000

The DR4000 is the deduplicating disk-to-disk backup product that first surfaced last November. It is aimed at small and medium businesses and smaller enterprises, and uses the Ocarina deduplication, compression and optimisation technology Dell acquired in July 2010. This was targeted by Ocarina at various image file formats but is now being applied to backup data streams and has had inline deduplication functionality added.

Dell figures a 15:1 deduplication ratio can be obtained and this reduces costs down towards $0.25/GB. The DR4000 is available at raw capacity levels of 3.6, 7.2 and 12TB, which Dell says provide logical capacity levels of 35, 70 and 130TB respectively – assuming the aforesaid 15:1 data reduction ratio. All software features are included in a single license, including 1-to-1 replication and Symantec OST support. RAID 6 support is also included.

The DR4000 does a write verify before committing data to disk, writes data with a calculated checksum and then runs background inspections of the checksums to ensure data integrity. Hardware scans are also run in the background.

Dell spokesperson Bill Robbins said: "[The Ingest speed is] 1TB/hour over NFS and can go as high as 4TB/hour with other protocols that would be launched in the short term."

We asked if the DR4000 has anything like DataDomain's Boost, to work with Symantec backup and have the media server do some of the deduplication work and so speed ingest? Robbins said: "That is currently in the plans for the near term, but not available as part of today's announcement." Dell says that OST support will come after the DR4000's RTS (Ready To Ship) date.

How does the DR4000 compare to competing products?

DataDomain's DD160 has a standard 40TB logical capacity while the DD620 offers an 83TB logical capacity. The 160 ingests data at 1.1TB/hour with Boost, the use of Symantec's OST to have the media server pre-process the backup data stream, and 667GB/hour without it. The 620 uses Boost to reach 2.4TB/hour and runs at 1.1TB/hour without it. All software features are included in the base price.

Quantum's DXi4500 is for the SMB customer and deduplicates at up to 1.4TB/hour both for NAS and with Symantec's OpenStorage (OST). The DXi4510 has a 2TB capacity while the DXi4601 ranges from 4 to 12TB capacity.

Dell's DR4000 is faster than the un-Boosted DD160 and comparable to the Boosted DD160 and un-Boosted DD620. It is not as fast as the DXi4500 but has a larger base capacity than the 4510 while matching that of the 4601 product.

The DR4000 is claimed to be very easy to deploy, partly by having a web-level GUI.

Dell will expand the DR4000 product range, adding speed and capacity, to cover larger enterprise requirements and, no doubt, support remote and branch offices as well. Future functionality will be added via firmware upgrades so that existing users don't have to forklift upgrade their kit to get additional features.

The company tells us that there will be integration with disaster recovery, data movement without rehydration, and WAN optimisation function additions, as well as many-to-1 replication in future releases. There will also be more ISV and partner integration.

Compellent

The O/S for Compellent storage arrays, Storage Center, has a major upgrade to v6.0, and gets 64-bit support plus extended VMware integration. This release was mentioned in March last year, when the prospect of tiering data in 32K block sizes instead of the currently used 512K block size was discussed. Such finer granularity would increase storage efficiency by being more certain that only hot data was stored on the faster and more expensive tiers of storage such as SSDs.

This move to tiering smaller blocks would be possible through 64-bit addressing, enabling a vastly larger number of blocks to be tracked. Storage Center 6.0 does not offer such smaller block size tiering yet, but it is the platform on which such additions of functionality will be built, and has the addition of Exanet scale-out NAS and Ocarina data reduction technologies.

Bob Fine, Compellent's product marketing director, said the new release doubles the cache in the controller and on Dell cache cards.

It also offers more VMware and VAAI support. Storage Center already supports block zeroing. Now copy offload and hardware-assisted locking primitives are present as well. Fine said these can make deployment of virtual machines up to 40 per cent faster. Support for a Thin Provisioning Unmap VAAI primitive is in the product but there is a problem.

Robbins said: "VMware has pulled support for the product as posted in this blog . As such, VMware is not providing support for the feature." Dell, like every other VMware VAAI partner, is waiting for VMware to fix this, if it can fix it.

A Storage Replication Adapter download is available for VMware SRM 5 enabling automated failback from a disaster, and planned workflows for migration and downtime. With SRM 5, Dell says, "all disaster recovery hardware and software support [can] be provided by the Dell Compellent Copilot support organisation."

There is a vSphere 5 Client plug-in and integration between Compellent's Enterprise Manager console and vSphere 5. This means vSphere 5 admins can manage pools of storage in Compellent arrays without having to use Enterprise Manager directly.

There is also integration with CommVault's snapshot-based protection with its application-aware recovery.

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