Original Article from Network Computing

BOSTON–The theme and sound bites during the second day of Dell Storage Forum were all about converged infrastructure, end-to-end solutions and Fluid Data Architecture. The company’s real messages, however, seemed to be “Keep It Simple Stupid,” which was reflected in a number of the products announced, including a new Compellent storage platform, Fluid File System update and a new release of AppAssure.

“The driver of convergence is about simplicity, about trade-offs,” said Dell’s Ben Tao, director, worldwide product marketing, virtualization and private cloud solutions. “It’s about delivering the 20% of functionality but 80% of the tasks that you do.”

Unveiled with the Compellent FS8600 NAS system, the updated Fluid File System is now available on all three Dell storage platforms, including EqualLogic and PowerVault. Enterprise-class features include snapshots, replication, data protection and the ability to manage file and block information on a single storage platform. The array, consisting of the FS8600 and SC8000 controller, includes 2U, 6GB SAS enclosures that hold 12 3.5-inch or 24 2.5-inch disk drives per enclosure and is available in options that support 8GB Fibre Channel and 1 or 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to the client network. Based on the 64-bit Compellent Storage Center 6.0 operating system and SC40 architecture, the new controller can scale up to one petabyte of automated tiered storage capacity within a single namespace.

“I like the Dell Fluid File System story–they are doing a good job of expanding it across the portfolio,” said Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. “They still have some work to do on it from a feature-function standpoint, but it probably fits 80% of the requirements out there.”

Randy Kerns, an analyst at Evaluator Group, said that while adding memory to the Compellent platform is a good generational advance, it’s probably more significant for Dell to provide the file system capability across platforms. “The file system (FS8600, in the case of Compellent) platform is based on the Exanet acquisition and has scale-out capabilities to 8 controllers (4 dual nodes). With leveraging the common NAS platform across multiple storage systems, there is great economy for Dell and commonality for customers,” he said.

Dell also introduced second-generation NAS systems featuring the Fluid File System. The EqualLogic FS7600 (1GbE) and FS7610 (10GbE) systems integrate with new or existing PS Series arrays, with file and block storage, including new support for asynchronous replication, managed through the EqualLogic Group Manager. The systems can scale to 509TB within a single namespace. The PowerVault NX3600 (1GbE) can scale to 576TB raw capacity, while the dual-NX3610 (10GbE) solution can scale across two appliances to support up to 1PB capacity within a single namespace.

AppAssure version 5 comes less than four months after the data protection and recovery company was acquired by Dell. In addition to greater scalability and performance, AppAssure uses block-level deduplication and compression across data sets to automatically reduce the storage capacity required for backups and decreases WAN bandwidth requirements for replication by transmitting only optimized data. The company will also add a Linux version later this year, along with localized language support.

Finally, Dell also introduced an entry-level 16Gb Fibre Channel switch, the Brocade DCX 6505, to complement its midrange 6510 and 8510 SAN backbone. The switch will ship this month, as will the Compellent SC800. The five storage arrays will ship in the second half of 2012, while AppAssure 5 is available now.

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