Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/25/dell_dx_dd_ns/

Dell OEMs Data Domain and Celerra

Adding its own object storage technology

By Chris Mellor

Posted in Storage, 25th March 2010 09:55 GMT

Dell is broadening its storage product range by OEMing EMC's Celerra and Data Domain products, and developing its own object storage product.

The background to this is the continuing and dramatic rise in the amount of semi- and unstructured information. This leads to a sheer storage capacity problem and to infrastructure problems, particularly when organisations need to respond to sudden and unpredictable changes in IT demand.

Dell is responding to that by increasing the ability for its customers to virtualise their IT environments, manage them more efficiently with infrastructure products, and equip their data centres with both servers and storage better suited to what it calls the virtual era.

The Reg covers the server, cloud and infrastructure parts of today's Dell announcement set elsewhere; here we concentrate on the storage which focuses on the efficient storage of billions of files and objects.

Dell is introducing three new storage product sets: the DX object store; DD deduplication systems; and the NS unified file and block storage systems Both the DD and NS products are OEM'd from EMC whereas the DX is not. It appears that Dell decided not to take EMC's Centera object storage product set.

DX Object Storage Platform

Paul Prince, a director in Dell's chief technology officer's organisation, said this was like iSCSI. There Dell saw a strongly growing market and decided it needed its own IP. Consequently it went out and bought EqualLogic.

Dell thinks that the growth in unstructured data will mean that potentially billions of files need to be stored in a searchable address space and that object storage is the best way to do that. It says DX customers will be able to access, store and distribute the billions of files or other digital content, from archiving all the way to the cloud.

The DX Object Storage Platform is a coming product and details are somewhat scarce. We know that it is based on one or more Cluster Services Node (CSN) management front end connected by 1GBitE to DX6012s storage nodes which can be added and added to build multi-petabyte storage capabilities with no architectural limit on the number of nodes.

The base DX technology components come from unidentified partners; Caringo thought to be one, with Dell taking the best of breed parts and integrating them to produce its own object storage technology. Data is stored with metadata which is used to automatically manage the length and location of content storage. The company did not say if it was used hash addressing to do this.

The CSN boxes store an index or map of all the objects in the storage nodes and they store the objects in a single flat and potentially enormous address space. They are 2U enclosures with a single X86 CPU, six hard drives offering up to 6TB max capacity, 12GB of RAM, and 4 1GbitE ports. They have redundant power supplies and an iDRAC Express management card.

These CSNs have the centralised management interface, carry out network services and contain a content router

The DX6012s SNs also come in 2U enclosures, this time with up to 12 hard drives offering 3,6, 12 or 24TB of capacity. There is a single X86 CPU and 3, 6, 12 or 24GB of RAM plus two 2GbitE ports and redundant power supplies.

The nodes are self-managing and carry out load-balancing, storage optimisation and power conservation. They also carry out background data integrity health checks on their stored content, both original data and replicas.

The DX 6000 has policy-based replication to geographically separate sites, with policies driven by administrator-defined object metadata. Multiple replication and distribution topologies are supported such as 1:1, 1:Many, Many:1, Many:Many.

Dell says the DX system will feature automated, policy-based retention and deletion and be affordable. It will offer various data types: immutable, mutable, and conditional mutable.

The DX is claimed to be highly expandable through a peer-scaling design. There will be multiple options for scaling capacity. It will also, Dell claims, be possible to seamlessly add future storage technologies.

This is likely to be made possible by the storage nodes having standard interfaces to the management nodes. Dell did confirm that SATA drives will be used in the storage nodes but said that other drive types or storage tiers, such as Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) would be available as well.

The interconnect between the storage and management nodes was not identified and nor was the general speeds and feeds type information. Dell says that setup will use wizards and will not require LUNs or RAID groups. The hardware is industry-standard, and it's the DX software where the value and IP lies.

It's likely that some kind of data moving function across storage tiers will be provided.

Dell is working to build an eco-system of horizontal and vertical software suppliers to provide data ingest and access capabilities that use the DX as their object storage platform. The base protocol is HTTP and Dell is making its DX APIs available in a Software Development Kit (SDK) to partners, such as Acuo, Bridgehead Software, CommVault, EMC, Iron Mountain, Symantec and others.

Initially the DX will be available with software for healthcare, file and email archiving, eDiscovery and content management before July. Dell's Medical Archiving Solution will be based on the DX product and intended for the storage of electronic medical records, medical images, genomics and other healthcare information.

Dell will also supply ProConsult professional services for data archiving.

Data Deduplication

The Dell/EMC DD Series are three OEM'd Data Domain boxes; specifically the DD140, DD610 and DD630. These employ Data Domain's inline sub-file level deduplication technology. The larger DD 660, 690 and 880 products are not being taken by Dell.

The existing DL2100 appliances come with either Symantec Backup Exec 2010 or CommVault Simpana 8 backup and deduplication software and are positioned as value-oriented products for small and medium enterprises. The DX range takes Dell deduplicating storage arrays up into larger enterprises.

Unified Storage

Dell is also OEM'ing EMC's Celerra products, which were originally network-attached storage (NAS) boxes but have become unified storage with block access added. Dell calls these products the Dell/EMC NS Series, and the products are the NS-120, NS-480, and NS-960.

Dell also announced the PowerVault NX3100, a dense NAS storage product that can also handle block data, and store 24TB internally and 384TB externally. It has been validated with Dell's PowerVault, EqualLogic and EMC storage products.

The addition of EMC's Celerra and Data Domain boxes to Dell's storage range has been expected and gives the company a greatly expanded storage range. It should cause external deduplication array and unified file/black product supplier attach rates in Dell accounts to drop. Immediate losers look likely to be Quantum, with its DXi deduplication products, NetApp with its unfied storage, and other NAS/block suppliers.

Once again Dell has surprised observers by going its own way, with object storage this time, albeit with component partners. It may be that Centera was thought to be too proprietary and expensive, particularly as Dell has an open and affordable mantra.

Dell has broadened its storage offering to cover iSCSI and Fibre Channel block storage, file and object storage, and deduplicated and archival storage for small, medium and large enterprises. It is still shy, if that's the word, of supplying the very largest storage products, such as EMC's Symmetrix or the larger Data Domain products, but it is now building a software eco-system for its object storage and offering storage consulting services.

It is still a box shipper but one with a broadened range of services from its 41,000-plus service professionals and one with a significantly wider set of storage products. Combine this with the allied server, cloud and infrastructure management announcements, and this makes today a very big one in Dell's announcement history.

Availability

The DX product should arrive in the second quarter of this year, with the SDK becoming available in April. The Dell/EMC DD Series products are available now, as are the DL2100 products. The Dell/EMC NS-120 and NS-80 are planned to be available in April, as is the NX3100, with the NS-960 coming in May.

No pricing information was revealed. ®