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Dell mashes up EqualLogic and Compellent: Eat up kids, it's Dell Storage

Combined branding heralds combined products

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Comment With the worldwide availability of the SC4020 branded as Dell Storage, the company signals the coming together of its separate EqualLogic and Compellent networked storage array lines into a single brand and product technology.

Simultaneously, Dell is OEM'ing to technologies for server-attached storage.

We understand that other Dell storage technologies and brands, such as Ocarina data reduction and Exanet scale-out filers, will also be included under the Dell Storage brand, which we first discussed here.

The SC4020 is a 2U, 24-drive storage area network (SAN) array scaling past 400TB of raw capacity. There will be other models in the SC4000 series, which represent Compellent technology brought down to the mid-range area from its current enterprise slot. They can use disk drives, a combination of flash and disk (hybrid), or just flash. Dell claims “customers can achieve impressive all-flash performance – costing up to 72 per cent less than competing pure flash arrays.”

Inside the SC4020 is the EqualLogic iSCSI access stack and Compellent Storage Center v6.5 software. Dell says it hasn’t had a Fibre Channel array in the SC4020’s price band until now.

The progression as we understand it, to a single Dell Storage brand is taking place in three phases: Aquire, Integrate, and Accelerate.

The acquisition phase is completed and saw the purchases of EqualLogic, Compellent, Exanet, Ocarina and RNA.

The integration phase is almost complete, with the converging of the EqualLogic and Compellent lines into a single block and file storage architecture. There was no mention in our briefing of an object architecture component.

It will enable Dell to maximise its R & D investments and so accelerate the pace of its developments. We also see the possibility of the separate facilities for the separate storage products being consolidated into fewer ones, lowering Dell's product engineering and development costs.

The staged acceleration phase will see:

  • Additional EqualLogic and Compellent product features later this year,
  • Dell Storage branding,
  • Cross-platform replication and networking,
  • Common management,
  • Common hardware and firmware.

Customer’s existing EqualLogic and Compellent products will have a migration path to the converged technology line.

Separate converged systems

Along with the convergence of the EqualLogic, Compellent and other Dell storage technologies into a single shared (networked) storage product line, the company is looking outside and using OEM agreements to provide more specialised and application-specific server/storage appliances.

We have seen the first example of this with the announcement of a coming set of Dell XC Series scale-out, so-called hyper-converged server/storage and networking boxes using Nutanix software. Customers will be able to run virtually any virtual machine on them, Nutanix being hypervisor-agnostic, and storage will be aggregated across a set of XC appliances.

Here we see Dell’s own virtual SAN offering, it already supporting VMware’s VSAN.

A second specialised appliance is Dell’s Acceleration Appliance for Databases (DAAD?) which uses Fusion-io’s ION Accelerator technology - basically sticking a lot of Fusion’s ioMemory cards inside a server. Run HANA or SQL Server inside this and see it go fast, very fast.

Dell is now OEM’ing both Nutanix SW and Fusion-io hardware/software for specific storage niches: Nutanix for virtual SAN storage and hyper-convergence and Fusion-io for running app working sets in sold state so they avoid disk access latency delays.

Both provide closely linked server storage and contrast with the networked storage in the Dell Storage line.

Chris says

As a side comment, with SanDisk buying Fusion-io we reckon Dell might well have received an enquiry about possible interest in buying Fusion-io, an enquiry which it ultimately rejected. Financially, we assume, the company would not have wanted to spend a billion dollars on this after have just expensively gone private.

A new Dell storage approach is emerging, with a single all-Dell networked storage architecture and technology set on the one hand, and a server-attached storage product set based on OEM deals on the other. ®

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