Compellent adds SAS drives, RAID 6 to flagship SAN

SAN allows automated tiering between drives, and RAID types

Compellent today announced its latest SAN, which offers SAS drive capability, automated tiering between RAID 5, 6 and 10 levels and server mapping that automates deployment of virtual servers and clusters.

Compellent Technologies Inc. has released the fifth generation of its enterprise-class storage area network (SAN), adding the ability to create a tiered array using serial SCSI (SAS) drives to the Fibre Channel, SATA or solid-state drives (SSD) options already available.

The company also added a RAID 6 (dual drive failure protection) capability to the array's automated tiering. Before the upgrade, the SAN was able to automatically move data between RAID 5 and RAID 10 levels based on pre-set policies. Storage Center 5 first stores written data on fast storage configured with RAID 10 and then dynamically migrates the least active portions to RAID 6 for high availability and protection, without the need for manual intervention or services.

Storage Center 5 also has automated block-level data tiering between drive types, which migrates data depending on the frequency of use. That way, the most frequently accessed data can reside on SSD or Fibre Channel disk, and less frequently used data can be moved to less expensive and higher capacity SAS or even SATA drives.

Storage Center 5 can scale from as few as six SAS drives to 384 SAS drives with a mix of capacities and speeds within the same enclosures, supporting Fibre Channel or iSCSI front-end server connectivity. The SAS drives come in 450GB 15,000-rpm or 1TB 7,200-rpm models.

The new SAN also now includes Virtual Ports, which increases data availability for end-to-end virtualization by sharing, moving or reassigning multiple virtual I/O ports with any physical port. Virtual Ports can support both Fibre Channel and iSCSI connectivity, and eliminates the need for dedicated I/O hardware and ports to expand failover options for both entry-level and enterprise configurations. The SAN has five PCI slots into which the Virtual Port cards, each containing four Fibre Channel or iSCSI ports, can be inserted.

Another feature Compellent added is server mapping, which allows administrators to use a GUI to automate deployment of virtual servers and clusters. Server mapping enables simultaneous setup and configuration of identical thin-provisioned volumes for many physical and virtual machines. Not only does it perform OS-aware mapping and automatic multi-pathing, but it also allows users to add and remove servers on the fly.

Storage Center 5 also comes with a Consistency Groups feature that enables faster, data recovery of enterprise applications such as databases. The Consistency Groups tool pauses traffic within the disk array while taking up to 40 snapshots of separate-but-related volumes at once for fast restores.

For faster data replication between primary and secondary SANs, Compellent is offering what it calls a "Portable Volume" capability. It uses a 2TB, USB-attached external hard drive with a standard server -- with the company's Enterprise Manager software already installed -- to copy volumes from the primary SAN to the external drive. That drive can then be physically moved to a remote data center.

Shipping the drives overnight can be faster than attempting to replicate the data over a WAN, according to Bob Fine, director of marketing for Compellent. "It can take two or three months to do an initial synchronization between SANs using a WAN," Fine said.

While stored on the drives, the replicated data is protected by 128-bit encryption. Once the drive is attached via USB to the new SAN, the data is automatically uploaded and synchronized with the primary SAN so remote replication can begin.

The entry-level configuration of a Storage Center 5 SAN is priced at $21,100 and includes dual clustered controllers, 10TB SAS storage and the following bundled software: Storage Center 5 Core with Virtual Ports, Server Mapping, Consistency Groups, Dynamic Capacity thin provisioning, Fast Track data placement, Data Instant Replay snapshots and Enterprise Manager storage resource management.

A configuration with automated tiered storage and replication starts at $38,100 and includes dual clustered controllers, 8.7TB SAS storage (consisting of six 1TB 7,200-rpm and six 460GB 15,000-rpm drives), the same bundled software plus Data Progression tiering and Remote Instant Replay replication licenses.

The optional Portable Volume Kit with two 2TB drives starts at $1,250.

All prices exclude maintenance and services.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, send e-mail to or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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