Compellent, Microsoft Team on New SAN

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-07-20 Print this article Print

The new system automatically classifies data and assigns it to an appropriate tiered storage layer.

SAN provider Compellent Technologies July 15 introduced a new storage area network the company claims is the industry's only platform to extend block-level automated tiered storage to file management.

Compellent's Storage Center SAN Version 3.6 with NAS (network-attached storage) features Compellent Data Progression, in which data is automatically classified and moved to the appropriate tier of storage, based on frequency of access.

Frequently accessed data is retained on high-performance storage drives, and infrequently accessed data is stored on lower-cost storage devices, which can significantly reduce power expenditures.

Storage Center with NAS also features rapid recovery, continuous system snapshots, automated tiered storage, thin provisioning and remote replication. Deployment is simplified by booting the diskless NAS system from the SAN using Compellent-provided setup tools.

Compellent, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., teamed with longtime partner Microsoft to embed management and availability features in the NAS interface, including a virtual disk service for managing volumes on the SAN, multipath I/O to support failover to Fibre Channel or iSCSI connections, and a volume shadow service for consistent recovery points.

Compellent worked with Microsoft to utilize the file-sharing features of Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 and use them inside Compellent's architecture to deliver a unified FC/iSCSI platform.

Click here to read about Compellents addition of server management software to its storage software.

With its file deduplication ability, Storage Center with NAS stores only one copy of a file, even though several copies of the same file might exist. This can save more than 35 percent in disk space.

The addition of NAS to Compellent's base product was necessary, given that rivals such as Network Appliance and EMC already have combined block and file storage products, storage analyst Henry Baltazar of The 451 Group  told eWEEK.

"Compellent initially had a partnership with NAS gateway vendor OnStor, but that deteriorated when OnStor started selling their Pantera storage systems, which combined Dot Hill storage systems with their NAS gateways," Baltazar said.

"On the plus side, Microsoft Storage Server 2003 R2 provides Compellent with technologies such as Single Instance Storage (SIS) to optimize file storage. The interface should also be fairly easy to learn for Windows shops," he said.

Making the NAS head diskless was a good move, Baltazar said, since it will allow customers to leverage Compellent's snapshot technology to quickly fix problems.

"As far as weaknesses go, this product is a bolt-on. The management interfaces for file and block storage are still separate entities," Baltazar said.

To read about Emulexs accelerator for SAN virtualization, click here.

The bottom line, Baltazar said, is, "This was a good and necessary move, but at the end of the day Compellent will still be known for its block storage and not as a major NAS player. The NAS gateway is best suited for block storage customers with some file requirements."

Storage Center SAN Version 3.6 with NAS is available now through Compellent's international channel. Prices start at about $35,950. Adding a Compellent NAS platform to an existing Storage Center SAN starts at $9,995. Compellent NAS platforms with iSCSI will be available in early August.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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