Having dealt with capacity based licensing during most of my career, I was pleasantly surprised that Compellent puts a ceiling on it’s software costs based on the number of drives. Although a Compellent SC040 can scale from 6 to at least 1008 disk drives, the licensing cut off point is 96 drives.

To avoid charging customers for unneeded software, Compellent licenses the following:

1. Data Progression (Block based Automated Tiered Storage) – ILM
2. Data Instant Replay (Snap Shot)
3. Dynamic Capacity (Thin Provisioning) (Prerequisite)
4. Remote Instant Replay (Replication)
5. Replay Manager (Application Aware Snaps)
6. Fast Track (Tiering on the disk for higher performance)
7. Storage Center Core (prerequisite)

You could have all these features or some of them depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

A Base license = 16 active drives.

Expansion licenses are based on 8 drive increments to a maximum of 10 sets or a total of 96 drives including Base license.

So, once you hit the 96 drive number, you don’t buy anymore SW, just hardware and probably just 7K drives. Compellent say 7K drives make up 81% of their disk upgrades.

One caveat is that although you are not “charged” for software beyond 96 drives, there is the age-old complaint by customers that adding drives is not as simple as picking up the commodity devices. Compellent, nor any other large manufacturer, supports the customer going out and buying an off-the-shelf seagate drive to pop in the unit. The variables are many and the risks are too high for data corruption.

However, I do think the vendors should cut down on the exorbitant rates they charge for add-on hardware if they truly want to market “future proof” value.

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