Compellent Launches New ZFS-Based Storage System

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-04-28

Compellent Launches New ZFS-Based Storage System

Compellent, a progressive-thinking data storage company that was an early mover to the idea of providing unified connectivity, on April 27 launched the first network-attached system based entirely on the open-source Zettabyte File System.

The 128-bit ZFS, which numerous storage network developers have described as extraordinarily fast, is an in-demand open-source software package for handling unstructured data in any type of block, file or drive as a virtualized single pool of storage.

ZFS, developed mostly at Sun Microsystems several years ago, is based on a transactional object model that removes most of the traditional constraints associated with I/O operations.

In its new zNAS storage system, Compellent has added its own secret sauce: consolidated file- and block-level storage on a ZFS-based platform using its own Fluid Data architecture.

This is the first storage system to utilize all these new-generation components, Compellent Marketing Vice President Bruce Kornfeld told eWEEK.

"Compellent has built an intelligent, unified platform that can eliminate the guesswork of storage planning and management," Kornfeld said.

The zNAS with Fluid Data Architecture, supplied in a physical appliance, features a single interface for management of various Unix, Linux and Windows file and block data plus both SAN and NAS management controls, Kornfeld said.

It's all automatic

The architecture increases storage utilization by automatically (according to predesigned policies) tiering file storage at the block level, by thin-provisioning storage for unstructured data, and by delivering rapid data recovery and site-to-site replication, Kornfeld said.

The new system also features controls for planning, provisioning and recovery of virtual servers in VMware, Microsoft, Citrix and Oracle environments. Compellent's modular hardware includes dual Intel Xeon quad-core Nehalem processors, up to 48GB of RAM, and connectivity options that include 8G-bps Fibre Channel, Kornfeld said.

Increasing Demand for File-Based NAS

IDC Research Manager Noemi Greyzdorf told eWEEK that there has been increasing demand for file-based storage that includes NAS.

"Many applications support the NFS interface, and many virtualized environments, like VMware, are opting to run on NFS. That said, there has been a push to have a unified management platform for block and file," Greyzdorf said.

"The product Compellent has had, the Windows Storage Server, is inadequate when positioned against NetApp and [EMC] Celerra, as well as other NAS products. Many deals ask for both block and file interfaces, so customers were asking Compellent to have something more substantial at the same time.

"Compellent doesn't want to leave money on the table for its competitors or lose deals because they don't have a competitive NAS offering," Greyzdorf said.

The important thing to consider is the user interface, she said.

"Compellent is working hard on making sure that the block storage interface and NAS interface are similar so the end user feels like it is one system," Greyzdorf said. "This creates a lot of operational efficiencies. I think it also makes a huge difference that Compellent is rebranding the solution and taking responsibility for its support, which creates one neck to choke with a consistent support across block and file storage."

Finally, the use of ZFS matches the Compellent mantra that the intelligence is in the software and the hardware components can be commodity, Greyzdorf said.

"ZFS can run on any server [though Compellent will sell it as an appliance], making the support paradigm the same," Greyzdorf said. "This permits a simpler support paradigm then when dealing with custom hardware on the array or NAS appliance."

Compellent will demonstrate zNAS at the company's annual channel partner and end-user conference, C-Drive 2010, set for May 2 to May 6, 2010, in Minneapolis, Minn. Compellent plans to ship zNAS to all markets by the end of June 2010 exclusively through the company's international network of channel partners, Kornfeld said.

Excluding maintenance and services, Compellent unified storage with zNAS starts at about $84,000, which includes two clustered zNAS nodes; two clustered SAN controllers; 8.7TB of SAS storage capacity; and thin provisioning, automated tiered storage, snapshots, replication and storage resource management licenses.

Adding two clustered zNAS nodes to an existing Compellent SAN starts at $36,000, excluding maintenance and services, Kornfeld said.

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