Compellent, Microsoft Team on New SAN

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.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick 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.

/zimages/2/28571.gifTo 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.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...