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Dell Storage branches out with midsize arrays, software-defined systems

The company unveiled upcoming enterprise products at the Dell User Forum

By Stephen Lawson
June 24, 2014 05:09 PM ET

IDG News Service - Dell plans to expand its storage lineup with a series of midsized SAN arrays and a portfolio of software-defined storage systems, furthering two prominent industry trends.

The new arrays will be configurable as hybrid or as all flash and will undercut competing solid-state arrays in a market where flash storage is getting more competitive with disk drives, according to Dell. The SDS (software-defined storage) appliances are based on a startup's software that runs on standard hardware. Both were announced at the Dell User Forum in Miami on Tuesday.

The SC4000 series of SAN (storage area network) arrays brings most of the features of the SC8000 series to enterprises with smaller storage requirements. Those products will tackle a multibillion-dollar market that Dell has never addressed, taking on other midrange arrays priced between US$25,000 and $50,000, said Travis Vigil, executive director of Dell Storage.

The new array line will debut worldwide in the third quarter with the Dell Storage SC4020, a model that will start with 24 drive slots in a 2U (3.5-inch) rack enclosure. It will be available with both Fibre Channel and iSCSI ports. A full-sized SC4020 will have 120 slots, each of which can be used for SSDs (solid-state drives) or spinning disks. Its maximum capacity will be 400TB.

That's significantly smaller than the SC8000 series, introduced about two years ago, which starts out with a 6U configuration and ultimately can hold 2PB of data. But each product is designed for the same purpose, as a cost-efficient hybrid or all-flash array for general enterprise applications. Even configured fully with flash, the SC4020 will come at a discount of as much as 72 percent versus competing all-flash arrays, the company says.

As with the SC8000, Dell says its ability to build both high-grade SLC (single-level cell) and less expensive MLC (multilevel cell) flash into the same array lowers costs and sets it apart from the competition. The key is software for automatic tiering between the two types of flash depending on application needs, Dell says. The company expects the SC4020 to carry a starting list price below $40,000.

Dell's pricing on the SC4000 series appears to put another nail in the coffin of 15,000-rpm drives, which have been used for relatively high-speed, low-latency storage but are being displaced by faster solid-state media as the price of flash declines. An SC4020 with all flash would cost 18 percent less than a configuration filled with 15,000-rpm drives, in addition to taking up far less space and delivering much faster performance, Vigil said.

The fast spinning disks still sell to enterprises that want to stick to a specific architecture that's already certified, he said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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