While many storage managers and administrators continue to be the primary drivers into storage area networks and finding the best fit for their storage networks, we are starting to see some security network administrators give their “2 cents” when it comes to selecting a storage area network, whether it’s a Dell EqualLogic or a Dell Compellent SAN. “Why?” you might ask…? Aside from sheer boredom, more storage arrays are now shipping with self-encrypting drives, sometimes called SED drives.

How are these different from your standard NL-SAS, SAS, and / or SSD drives I might already finding on EqualLogic pricing or Compellent pricing…? Well, they’re really not…but essentially these self-encrypting drives are being built with a circuit that comes embedded into the disk drive controller chip.

What this essentially does is encrypt and decrypt the data that is put onto the magnetic media without any human intervention. In fact, the SED drives come factory-default on many HDD and SSD drives.

There’s really a lot more detail that goes into the SED drives such as password creation, etc., but we’re not going to bore you with all the finite details here. What’s important to note is that SED drives are relevant in preventing data loss while performance is not impacted. So next time you seek EqualLogic pricing or Compellent pricing on a Dell storage solution, ask if the drives have SED…the price is a bit more, but it could be worth it…

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Let’s be real for a minute. Dell recognizes the fact that the storage market has become increasing competitive…particularly when it comes to flash-based solutions. Have you noticed that companies out there tend to offer either a hybrid-flash solution or an all-flash solution, but not both…? It’s because they can’t…but Dell Compellent can.

The Dell Compellent SC220 all-flash enclosure has:

  • Twenty-four (24) 2.5” drive bays or slots
  • Twelve (12) of these drive bays are populated with SSD drives (all flash drives)
  • Six (6) 400GB write-intensive SLC SSDs
  • Six (6) 1.6TB read-intensive MLC SSDs
  • Twelve remaining slots can be filled with six-packs of SLC and MLC SSDs

The Dell Compellent SC220 hybrid-flash enclosure has:

  • Twenty-four (24) 2.5” drive bays or slots
  • Twelve (12) of these drive bays are populated with SSD drives
  • Six (6) 400GB write-intensive SLC SSDs
  • Six (6) 1.6TB read-intensive MLC SSDs
  • Remaining twelve (12) drives can be a combination of SSDs and 1TB 7.2K RPM HDDs (rotating disks)

No doubt the SC220 hybrid-flash solution provides some great flexibility and scalability as it provides three (3) tiers of storage while:

  • Being configured to use one or more SC220 flash enclosures with both write- and read-intensive SSDs and HDDs
  • It can also expand capacity with SC220 enclosures
  • Add SC220 enclosures which can use 7.2K, 10K or 15K RPM drives
  • Add SC200 enclosures with large capacity drives
  • Add SC280 enclosures with 4TB 7.2K RPM drives

Talk about flexibility here, particularly with the Dell Compellent hybrid-flash solution(s). Finding Compellent pricing can reveal some good budgetary numbers, but it is recommended you go through a trusted Dell Compellent reseller to create a customized presentation based on your requirements.

Yup, Dell is back in the storage game with some powerful SSD / flash-based solutions…oh, yeah…

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The following article-blog (written by Alan Atkinson, GM—Dell | Compellent 6 Aug 2013 12:00 PM ) was given permission to us to share, citations are given at the end of this article:

“Storage Center 6.4 will allow us to fully leverage SSD technology and offer the best performing hosted Exchange service and cloud servers on the market, with the lowest possible latency.” (Jean Caron, Vice-President, Operations, at Sherweb)

The Dell storage portfolio takes a major step forward with the introduction of Storage Center 6.4. This release introduces record Dell Compellent performance and density, at a price point that can change the economics of your data center. These new capabilities have received incredibly positive responses from both our customers and the marketplace as a whole as seen when announced at the Dell Enterprise Forum back in June.

As I talk to customers, they’ve told me that they want greater performance and higher density – all at a lower price point. We listened and now have rolled out….

Flash-optimized solutions designed to improve performance for data-intensive applications and OLTP workloads, optimized with intelligent tiering to cost less than comparable 15K disk drive solutions! [1]

New SC280 dense enclosure, the densest solution of any major vendor in its class with 336TB in 5U. [2]

Storage Center 6.4, which optimizes performance for database & OLTP workloads, amplifies the power of Compellent tiering, and integrates management of block and file.  We’ve reworked our tiering logic to specifically address flash technology.

Today, we’re releasing our Flash-optimized solutions and our SC280 dense enclosure powered by Storage Center 6.4, which helps you manage your expanding storage needs while preserving your capital for sales, marketing and R&D. Storage Center 6.4 is the first storage solution in its class to tier sub-LUN data across traditional rotating drives, write-optimized SSDs and read-optimized SSDs. [3]

Compellent’s leading automated tiering with Data Progression has been enhanced and optimized for flash to provide built-in, extremely granular intelligence that automatically tiers data across multiple SSD types and optimizes performance all while protecting your data. This allows you to experience cost savings by migrating older files automatically down to lower-tier, less-expensive drives while writing and leaving frequently accessed data on faster, Tier 1 drives.

There is this perception that flash-optimized storage is more expensive than spinning disks. This is not the case anymore with the Dell Compellent Flash-optimized solutions that offer flash performance with up to 84% space reduction, up to 90% latency reduction and an approximate 56% pricing reduction compared to traditional spinning arrays. [4]

Flash-optimized solutions can be configured with all SSDs for an all-flash solution, or a combination of SSDs and spinning disk drives for a hybrid-flash solution depending on your data center requirements. Compellent’s Flash-optimized solutions and data progression increase system performance by 75% and can increase storage capacity while reducing solution costs compared to arrays with spinning media. [5]

Complementary to the Flash-optimized solution we are introducing the Compellent SC280 dense enclosure which offers the best rack unit density of any major storage solution. 84 4TB hard drives in a 5 rack unit (RU) space  allows for 67.2TB usable per rack unit, clearly maximizing floor space and creating an all-in-one fast write, bulk storage solution.  You can now have 2PB of storage along with 2 Compellent Storage Center systems in a 48U rack. The SC280 can be used in a solution that tiers data from high-performance, Flash-optimized solutions with SLC and MLC SSD all the way down to high-capacity, cost-optimized storage—all within a single Compellent array.

Are you utilizing flash solutions in your data center? Let us know how through your comments and be sure to stay connected with Dell Storage via Facebook and Twitter.

[1] June 2013 Dell internal list pricing analysis indicates that the Dell Compellent disk drive solution for 37.6 TBs of 15K drives is $440,600 and 42.4 TB of SSD using the Dell Compellent all-flash solution has a list price of $426,741.

[2] Based on February 2013 internal Dell analysis comparing SC280 to comparable 2U 3.5 disk drive enclosures

[3] Based on internal Dell analysis performed in May 2012, comparing similar Dell Compellent offerings to EMC VNX family, HP 3PAR  StoreServe, HP EVA, IBM v7000, IBM XIV, Hitachi Data Systems HUS 100 Family, and Oracle  SUN ZFS Storage family.

[4] Internal Dell analysis in July 2013 based on Dell Compellent flash-optimized and spinning disk US list pricing, technical specifications of flash-optimized vs. spinning disk arrays and an internal test performed by Dell in March 2013 with Storage Center v6.3.10 on dual SC8000 controllers running OLTP type workloads using IOmeter with a 100% random, 70/30 read/write mix and 8K

[5] Internal Dell analysis in July 2013 based on Dell Compellent flash-optimized and spinning disk US list pricing, technical specifications of flash-optimized vs.spinning disk arrays and an internal test performed by Dell in March 2013 with Storage Center v6.3.10 on dual SC8000 controllers running OLTP type workloads using IOmeter with a 100% random, 70/30 read/write mix and 8K sector transfer size achieved this IOPS performance. Assumption is SC 6.4 will have similar results. Actual performance/latency will vary based on configuration, usage and manufacturing variability.

About SherWeb Inc. – A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft 2013 and 2011 Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive email, collaboration, and backup solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately-owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Online Backup and more. For details, visit http://www.sherweb.com.

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This is an excerpt describing Dell Compellent’s move from older PCI-X to PCI-E and its impact on customers. This was a response to a customer’s concern about having to upgrade their Compellent gear. Although Compellent has a good story on minimizing “forklift” upgrades, there comes a point when technology must be refreshed. Does anyone out there still use 5.25″ floppies?

Comment by Bob Fine, Dell Compellent Marketing:

“Full disclosure – I work for Dell Compellent. I manage the Compellent product marketing team. There are two macro level transitions here – the industry wide transition away from PCI-X to PCI-e and the transition from SATA to SAS.

We do offer a variety of ways for our customers to avoid forklift upgrades as much as possible. In the case of SATA technology, the industry has shifted away from SATA to SAS. This isn’t a Compellent decision, but across the entire drive industry. Compellent delayed the end of life long past when drive shipments ended. We still provide Copilot support for SATA, although the drives and enclosures are no longer available for upgrades or new orders.

For many of our customers, they can use a PCI-e SAS card in their existing controller and leverage this new drive technology and avoid a forklift upgrade that some vendors require. Unfortunately our older controllers only have PCI-X interfaces, and PCI-X SAS interface cards are not available from our vendors as part of the industry transition away from PCI-X.

A key Compellent advantage is that by moving to the latest controller will allow use of all your existing Fibre channel enclosures and drives along with SAS, something that most competitors do not support.

I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss this further offline from the blog.

- Bob Fine”

Our take: Having been involved with hundreds of enterprise storage projects over 20+ years there is one truism in data storage. Every piece of storage hardware will eventually need to be replaced, so plan on a periodic refresh. I once worked on a Fed Gov project that had a 70-year data retention policy. Although extreme, the requirement forced us to build into our design the ability to migrate forward (i.e. refresh) data from older media to newer. That meant we could not tie our applications to a specific locations and/or mount points. Locations are best kept in a database that can be revised over time.

I appreciate Bob’s response and it is obviously a sincere effort to explain the need for a refresh. The only problem I have is when a marketing team with no real applicable technology experience makes claims it cannot back up.

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