Dell Storage News Includes Novel Blended SLC/MLC Flash Array

SAN JOSE: Harking back to its roots, the second day of Dell’s Enterprise Forum was primarily about storage. Formerly known as the Storage Forum, for all of two years, the conference featured the Compellent Flash Optimized Solution, an array that mixes both SLC and MLC flash storage, with the option of also adding hard disks in the same rack, at a quarter of the price of all-SLC-based offerings, and for approximately the same price as a disk solution for the same types of workloads, according to Bob Fine, Product Director, Dell Storage.

“It’s really about how we’re changing the dynamics of flash.” Customers choose either all MLC or all SLC, and there are pretty big differences in terms of cost (SLC is 10x the price of MLC per gigabyte), performance and reliability of those technologies, he said.

“This is breakthrough technology; nobody in the industry is doing that.” It needs very sophisticated automated tiering technology, something Compellent has been doing for quite a while, he said.

Dell is saying that their competitors implement the all-SLC arrays because of the write limitation issue with MLC, said John Webster, Senior Partner, Evaluator Group. “They don’t make a distinction between read and write I/Os. Dell argues that if they tier the write-intensive data to SLC and shunt the read-intensive stuff off to MLC, they can reduce the cost of a flash implementation for equivalent capacity of all SLC vs. their hybrid model.”

He said this is based on assumptions about the average read/write ration that may not hold true in some applications. “I give them points for looking at this a bit more rationally than the competition. However, storage buyers tend to look at the total cost of the array — flash plus disk.”

“Designation of an SLC Tier and an MLC Tier is a unique concept and allows tuning of hardware for a given workload at a new level of granularity,” said Storage Strategies Now’s Jim Bagley.

Fine said users are looking for a lot more performance. There was 57% growth in the I/O intensive tier, a 13% drop in the mid-performance tier, and pretty good growth, 19% CAGR, in the cost-optimized mass market, he said.

The storage market opportunity is huge, said Dell. It cited IDC research that said the big data technology and services market will grow at a 31.7% compound annual growth rate with revenues reaching $23.8 billion by 2016, and the storage segment is expected to increase at the highest rate, 53.4%.

Other storage news included: Compellent Storage Center 6.4 array software; Compellent SC280, which offers up to 2.8 times more capacity than competing 2U enclosures, storing up to 336 terabytes in a 5U footprint; and Fluid File System v3, which can support two petabytes in a single namespace, offers improved performance at one-third the cost of the market leader. Storage Center 6.4, Flash Optimized Solution and SC280 enclosure have planned availability for Q3, and FluidFS v3 for early Q4 2013.

“The density enhancements are becoming more critical as data center footprints are increasingly expensive,” said Bagley. “The FluidFS scale-out NAS system provides a new level of unified storage capability to Dell Compellent users.”

In addition to new and improved products, Dell also announced benchmark data on the performance of its FluidFS along with its new FS8600 NAS controller and SC8000 Storage Center SAN using the SPECsfs benchmark. The combination provides a potent capability for both high throughput and scalability, according to Bagley. “Organizations in the mid to large scale market will be able to take advantage of the FluidFS capabilities with confidence that their systems will be able to support their data growth into the future.”


Disclosure: Still here on Dell’s dime; hopefully they’re still a customer; and I’m still sitting on their stock.





Author: Steve Wexler

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