Dell Continues Enterprise Storage Push With Latest Products

Just days after celebrating the shipment of the 100,000th EqualLogic storage array, Dell is back with more new products, including enhancements to its Compellent and PowerVault lines, as well as a new release of Quest NetVault Backup (v9.0). Announced at the EMEA Dell Storage Forum customer and partner event in Paris, the company is upgrading its high-end Compellent and low-end PowerVault lines, as well as expanding its data protection offerings, including the latest software from its latest acquisition, Quest.

The Compellent news is a significant increase in performance in two areas: the controller for software (Storage Center 6.3), and doubling fibre channel from 8 to 16Gb, said Bob Fine, product director, Dell Compellent. It validates the strong total cost of ownership, and because the enhancements are increment, customers aren’t forced to make forklift upgrades, he said.

That TCO element is significant, said Fine. According to a new IDC White Paper, commissioned by Dell, Compellent installations had almost twice as long a productive life span than non-Dell storage solutions, with customers replacing Compellent every 6.9 years compared to 3.5 years for their other storage environments.

This expanded investment in Compellent is intended to advance the line’s attractiveness to the enterprise market. We’ve scaled in multiple areas, development staff, added Copilot staff, feature sets; and also scaled in terms of size of system, size of customers we’re able to address, and scaled in number of customers, said Fine. “The type of customer we’re seeing for Compellent is significantly larger than 3-4 years ago.”

Since acquiring Compellent Technologies in February 2011, Dell has added 2,500 customers. For the last quarter, 2Q12, both IDC and Gartner put Dell among the top-six external controller-based disk storage vendors behind EMC, IBM, NetApp, HP and HDS, but in fourth place for total disk storage systems revenue at $924 million, half of market-leader EMC’s $1.823 billion. In 2003, the iSCSI SAN market was $18 million and today its worth $3 billion, of which Dell holds the lion’s share, 28%, and has for the last 18 quarters.

While the PowerVault value storage line does well in Dell’s traditional sweet spot, the SMB market, it also appeals to larger customers looking for high performance at a reasonable cost, said Brett Roscoe, executive director and general manager, Dell PowerVault and data management solutions. They want performance but don’t want all the features of comparable systems, he said.

Back in July, shortly after Dell acquired Quest, Forrester analyst Glenn O’Donnell wrote that he expected it would fit in well with Dell’s recent focus on backup and continuity. “Quest brings some serious backup and continuity assets to the table from several acquisitions (Vizioncore and BakBone being the two most recent) and internally developed products spanning the virtual and physical worlds along with application/database-specific tools for continuity.” However he cautioned that because the new Dell data protection portfolio combines the assets of half a dozen different companies, it will almost certainly take years to coalesce into a comprehensive enterprise offering.

Enterprises need a range of IT — and storage — solutions and so what Dell has can play there just fine….not just in SMB organizations per se, said Mark Peters, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group. “Now, that said, Dell itself, is clear that it wants to be the overall (converged) IT vendor of choice for the mid-range (whether that’s an organizational or a capacity or an application decriptor). ‘Mid’ in this context is a very broad church (where all the vendors you mention make a ton of dough) — which is why you see everything from easy-peasy PowerVault stuff thru to ‘enterprise’-type capabilities with the latest Compellent 6.3 release.”

Peters said there’s an active and a passive side to Dell’s ambitions to be the third largest storage vendor. “Passively it can ride the full-stack/converged IT wave, which mitigates in favor of the broader ‘full system’ vendors like HP, IBM, and Dell (with Oracle in the mix).”

From an active perspective, Dell needs to execute via strength and knowledge in its sales and marketing efforts, he said. “You can’t get bigger in anything (even at the overall scale Dell already is) without your target audience knowing what you have, and without EARNING credibility. It’s — frankly — basic block-and-tackling that’s gotta happen; no trick play or hail-Mary is needed or possible.”

Product details include: Compellent SC8000 controllers with Storage Center 6.3 software can increase performance up to 100% over previous versions, and 16Gb Fibre Channel — from server to switch to storage — provides double the previous bandwidth; synchronous replication enhancements; Windows Server 2012 support; enhanced security and reduced administration time with Active Directory and LDAP support. PowerVault MD3 array software offers enhanced data protection, capacity utilization, and virtualization capabilities; PowerVault DL4000, a 1U backup appliance with AppAssure software; PowerVault DL2300 enterprise-class data protection appliance combines Dell PowerEdge servers with CommVault Simpana 9 data protection software; and a new Quest release integrates with NetVault Extended Architecture (NetVault XA), and its cross-platform capabilities have been expanded to Windows Server 2012 and Novell Open Enterprise Server 11, along with enhancements to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.

PowerVault MD3 software enhancements and PowerVault DL2300 are available now; Quest NetVault Backup 9.0 has planned availability in December; PowerVault DL4000 has planned availability in Q1 2013; and Compellent Storage Center 6.3 has planned availability for beta in early 2013 and general availability in Q2.

Author: Steve Wexler

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