Dell Compellent SC4020 Array

Dell has announced a new storage array, the SC4020, and an aggressive plan to go after all-flash array vendors with an initial sales price under $100,000.

The SC4020 is a pint-size Compellent array. Everything Compellent arrays and Dell’s Fluid Data software can do has been put into the new unit’s 2U chassis. At that size there’s only room for 24 disks, but companion disk drawers can bulk things out to 120 drives and total raw capacity of 413TB.

2U is enough room for two controllers each sporting a quad-core XeonE3-1265L v2 running at 2.50GHz. Each controller also boasts four 8GB Fibre Channel ports while an iSCSI version is due soon.

The SC4020 is a unified storage device so you can treat it as a NAS or SAN depending on your requirements.

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Have you ever wanted to get ballpark pricing for enterprise storage for planning purposes? Now, StoragePricing.Org provides pricing articles and budgetary quote for compellent.

The SC8000 specifications:

Storage capacity: Up to 960 drives (3PB raw capacity) per dual-controller system; larger capacity available in clustered systems using Live Volume*
Memory: Up to 128GB total available cache per dual-controller system; larger cache capacity available in clustered systems using Live Volume*
2.5” drives: Up to 24 drives per SC220 expansion enclosure
3.5” drives: Up to 12 per SC200 expansion enclosure, 84 per SC280 expansion enclosure

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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

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You already have a powerful Dell Compellent SAN in place…and perhaps you even have the FluidFS solution of a Compellent FS8600 in place as well. So if you do, you’re going to be excited about what’s coming out later this month: FluidFS v3.

What does this mean…? Everything!

For one, get used to the following term: Fluid Data Reduction. What this will allow you to do is build policy-driven variable-block dedupe and LZPS compression. That’s right, dedupe and compression! Dell’s finally answered the call to its clients’ demands…and it gets better. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the more common updates and features with FluidFS v3:

  • Support for SMB 2.0, 2.1, and NFSv4
  • Improved Scalability with 10,000 active SMB sessions per appliance
  • Up to 2PB in a single namespace on the FS8600 (with two SC8000s)
  • Access-Based Enumeration to allow you to hide files and directors for which a user does not have access (pretty slick, eh…?)
  • 1GbE to 10GbE Upgrade Path for current 1GbE FluidFS customers
  • Thin Provisioning and Clones – thinly provisioned NAS volumes and RW thin clones of NAS volumes

Some other features include AD as LDAP, Secure LDAP, Full EM integration for FS8600, improved installation experience, and dedicated management port (LOM) for the FS8600.

Be sure to verify these features with any new Compellent pricing you get as some (very few, really) of these features might not be available for iSCSI.

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…The new tiered flash technology, first unveiled in June at the Dell Enterprise Forum, combines high-speed SLC flash memory with slower but cheaper MLC flash memory, said Bob Fine, director of product marketing for Dell storage.

Dell then applies its Data Progression auto-tiering software to automatically tier data between the SLC and MLC flash memory and to hard drives, Fine said.

“When data comes at it, it is steered to SLC for the best performance in writes,” he said. “The data is then moved to MLC flash, as the read performance of MLC is on par with SLC. It’s unique. No one else has it.”

He gave the example of an all-flash Compellent array with six SLC SSDs and six MLC SSDs providing 12-TB capacity at a cost of about $180,000. To get 12 TB of high-performance disk storage, a company would have to purchase 82 146-GB 15,000-rpm hard drives for a total cost of $229,000.

Original article at CRN

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Jul 142013

Original article at

Dell optimized its Compellent SAN array for flash by modifying its Data Progression automated tiering features in the 6.4 version of Compellent Storage Center 6.4 array software. Primary storage dedupe and compression is part of the Dell Fluid File System (Fluid FS) 3 that runs on scale-out NAS appliances that give Compellent and Dell’s EqualLogic iSCSI SAN arrays unified storage capabilities.

Other major storage array vendors have already laid out their all-flash strategies, although some are not yet shipping their systems.

Unlike IBM, EMC and NetApp, Dell did not add a dedicated all-flash array. It takes the same approach as Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi Data Systems and makes all-flash an option in an existing platform.

Alan Atkinson, the Dell storage VP in charge of Compellent, said he expects more Compellent customers will use flash as a tier in rather than run 100% flash. He said the Storage Center software’s optimized tiering will allow customers to use SSDs to beat the performance of 15,000 RPM hard drives at a lower price.

Compellent uses single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC) solid-state drives (SSDs) in tandem. Each 24-drive 2U flash-optimized SC220 enclosure includes six 400 GB SLC drives and six 1.6 TB MLC drives. The other slots can be filled with MLC flash, SLC flash or 7,200 RPM SAS hard drives.

Compellent already supported solid-state drives as a tier in a hybrid array with hard drives, but Atkinson said that was far more expensive than using all hard drives. He said Compellent altered the frequency of its data tiering to take advantage of SLC and MLC SSDs to bring down the cost in the new version. Data writes go to the higher performing SLC drives while the less expensive MLC drives handle reads.

“We’ve built tiering into the enclosure itself, so all your writes go to the SLC drives,” he said. “What we’re showing is for a lot of workloads we’re cheaper than 15K drives. Instead of using 15K drives and tiering down to 7,200 RPM drives, you can buy enough flash for data intensive applications and tier down to 7,200 drives at the same cost or less. We think a huge amount of our customer base will stop buying 15K drives.”

It’s impossible to judge Compellent’s price claims now because no pricing will be available until the flash-enabled systems ship in the third quarter of the year.

Atkinson said Compellent flash won’t be anywhere near as cheap as the $3 per gigabyte that startup Skyera promises, but added that Compellent is a full enterprise array. He said Dell’s goal is to make flash the same price or lower than 15,000 RPM hard drives.

Storage analysts said Compellent is trying to use its strength – Data Progression automated tiering – to try to gain an edge in flash. Data Progression was considered a key feature for Compellent long before vendors sold SSDs in enterprise storage arrays.

“Compellent introduced auto-tiering to the world,” said Arun Taneja, consulting analyst for the Taneja Group. “Now they can fine-tune it to make use of the extra tiers.” He added that Compellent’s tiering between SLC and MLC SSDs is unique. “It’s the first use I’ve seen of tiering between the two types of flash,” he said.

Randy Kerns, senior strategist at the Evaluator Group, said Compellent’s tiering for flash “was easy for them to do because they support so many tiers already” but wondered if using the two types of flash will confuse customer when they are configuring their arrays. It said it might not be clear how much SLC versus MLC will be necessary.

Compellent also added a denser enclosure, the SC280, which holds 84 3.5-inch 4 TB drives for 336 TB of raw capacity in a 5U footprint.

Ocarina primary dedupe finally arrives

Dell customers have been waiting for primary data reduction since Dell acquired data reduction startup Ocarina in 2010. Dell put Ocarina technology in a disk backup target in 2012 but missed its 2011 target ship date for integrating dedupe and compression into primary storage.

Atkinson said FluidFS 3 supports policy-based dedupe and compression part of the base license. FluidFS 3 also supports SMB 2 and NFS 4 NAS protocols and 2 PB in a single namespace. Dell plans to make it available in the fourth quarter of this year, first on the Compellent FS8600 clustered NAS appliance and then on EqualLogic appliances before the end of the year.

“It’s good to see it,” Taneja said of Dell’s primary dedupe. “We’ve been waiting for Dell to do something with Ocarina for primary storage for two years now.”

Cody Bumgardner, chief technology architect at the University of Kentucky, said data reduction was among the upcoming features Dell laid out for him before he purchased Compellent storage two years ago. He said his shop doesn’t have a lot of duplicate data, but “the Ocarina compression will probably benefit us.”

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Original article by Mike McGuire

Compellent Cost outweighed by Performance and Enterprise features for multi-PB Japanese deal

Dell has invested in advancing Compellent further into the enterprise. Compellent’s performance, combined with data and licensing efficiencies, helps us win new, larger customers by providing enterprise-class features and lower long-term costs. Coupled with the dramatic performance gains of Storage Center 6.3 we announced in November, customers can grow systems even larger. Dell Compellent customers can scale their systems from a few terabytes to a petabyte within a single system without forklift upgrades. Customers are noticing Compellent’s progress and are moving to a more flexible Fluid Data architecture for their large-scale storage needs.

Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Selects Dell for a 3PB Installation

Dell today announced that we have sold one of the largest Compellent storage deployments to date. The arrays, being deployed by the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (or JAIST), have an initial capacity of three petabytes. As a couple of fun facts, that’s the equivalent of 60 million four-draw filing cabinets filed with text or nearly 40 years (or more than 21 million minutes) of high-definition video.

To support its students and faculty members across the country, JAIST decided to centralize its IT operations and improve performance with a private cloud infrastructure supported by Dell Compellent. Their previous systems were not giving them the fast data access and efficient back-up for large data sets that the university needed. The university wanted a virtualized storage infrastructure that would make information easier to access and allow room for growth, but any solution had to be powerful, affordable and easy to scale on demand.

The new infrastructure will provide high-performance and large capacity storage for its students and researchers working on various research projects. The new Dell infrastructure will enable JAIST to quickly access information and efficiently protect large amounts of important research data. And by centralizing hardware resources, JAIST can lower costs, improve energy efficiency and make management simpler.

Dell Compellent – Growth in the Enterprise

Did you know that since acquiring Compellent just two years ago, Dell has sold Dell Compellent technology in 95 countries (up from 25), has made it available in more than 100 and nearly tripled the R&D team? That’s tremendous growth. In the past year, Dell has moved Compellent to a 64-bit operating system and further enhancements available in February are expected to more than double the performance while running enterprise applications. The latest SAP certification for running SAP HANA as a pre-integrated system with Dell servers, storage and networking is further proof of how Dell Compellent supports enterprise applications and specialized workloads.

As Dell continues to add enterprise features to Compellent arrays, customers like JAIST will benefit from increased efficiency and functionality of the system. We all know that data storage needs will continue to grow and you’ll always need more storage.

How much data are you storing now?

How much data do you expect to be storing in a year?

Click here to compare different SAN pricing and/or SAN cost from multiple manufacturers.

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May 022012

Original article by Joseph Kovar at CRN

Dell (NSDQ:Dell) has made changes in how solution providers procure Compellent storage products for their customers which make it possible for partners to get ordering and discount information quicker and in many cases offer lower prices.

The changes to the Compellent ordering and configuration process stem from Dell’s move to standardize many of the processes and channel programs of its recent acquisitions.

Dell in February closed its $800 million-plus acquisition of storage virtualization vendor Compellent.

Since then, Dell has moved to integrate the technology and channel programs of its different storage technologies, including those of its EqualLogic, Compellent, Exanet, and Ocarina acquisitions.

Dell has simplified the process by which solution providers order Compellent products, get their discounts, and apply for special pricing, according to both Dell and its solution providers.

However, the actual impact of the changes in terms of pricing to customers is hard to quantify as various observers of the company and its channels look at it from different angles.

Financial analyst Raymond James wrote in a research report about a variety of major IT vendors that Dell has lowered the price of Compellent products to its channel partners by 30 percent due to improved supply chain efficiencies and volume purchases of hard drives compared to what the much smaller pre-acquisition Compellent was able to do.

As a result, solution providers are keeping larger margins for themselves compared to what they could keep before the acquisition, and are offering 10 percent or higher discounts to customers, Raymond James wrote.

One solution provider, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of discussing prices, said he has seen a downward price adjustment of about 30 percent to channel partners which will be reflected in prices to customers.

The adjustment is likely a result of price competition between Dell and EMC, former partners who last year parted ways as the two started pursuing independent storage strategies, the solution provider said.

“I expect it has a lot to do with the war between Dell and EMC at the SMB level,” the solution provider said. “EMC and Dell are at war.”

As a result of falling Compellent prices, the solution provider said, it is now possible to take Compellent technology into areas where lower-cost Dell EqualLogic products were previously more likely to be sold.

“Our Dell rep recently told us that for deals of up to $80,000, EqualLogic is better,” the solution provider said. “But with the new prices, I can get a bare bones Compellent down to $15,000. I could never do that before. In the past, with really small deals, there was not much Compellent discounting.”

Another solution provider who also preferred to remain unnamed because of the sensitivity of talking about Dell storage prices said that there could be a misconception about pricing discounts which are likely less than what others have noted.

That solution provider, who was a long-time Compellent partner, said that under the pre-acquisition Compellent system, partners would get a very specific price through the partner portal based on the configuration, and then have to negotiate further discounts.

“That was not a sustainable model,” the solution provider said. “Now we get our discounted price when we configure the system. So Dell is not really lowering the price. It is lowering the initial discounts so we don’t have to negotiate.”

As a result, the solution provider said, prices haven’t changed much.

“Instead, it’s the process to get our pricing which has changed,” the solution provider said. “On most deals for me, there’s no difference in price. With our experience with Compellent, we figured out over time where our discounts would be.”

A Compellent spokesperson said that the company, after it was acquired, standardized its pricing methodology to be closer to that of Dell (NSDQ:Dell)’s methodology, which may have resulted in simplified pricing and quicker configuration of the Compellent products.

Compellent also allowed for negotiations in the procurement process before the acquisition by Dell, but things have since been simplified to allow partners to focus more on the actual configuration of their customers’ storage, the spokesperson said.

Pre-acquisition Compellent partners had ultimate control of the configurations, which was a good thing but which also took a lot of time to handle, the spokesperson. Since the acquisition, Dell has simplified the process while maintaining the customization capabilities of partners. Dell has also simplified the pricing process while taking into consideration the level of the partner in the company’s partner program, the spokesperson said.

As a result, there may be some small changes in the prices to the customer, but not necessarily across the board, the spokesperson said.

Our take

The simplification of Compellent configuration and pricing has been a long time coming. The king of “complexity creates more money” is of course EMC, which has perfected the art of configuration confusion. Keeping the customer off balance and unsure about what is needed for a specific configuration always means there is room for “extras” that the unknowing customer ends up paying for.

Dell’s move to more standardized pricing is a welcome move toward transparency that should increase end user’s trust and decrease their costs.

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