Dell Drops Pricing on All-Flash, Hybrid Arrays

"What this means from a market point of view is that it opens up a general-purpose use case for flash," Dell Vice-President Alan Atkinson said.

Dell had storage news on July 20, but it wasn't about a new array or new features for one of their storage systems. It was about the company positioning itself to be known as the low-price leader for all flash storage.

The Round Rock, Texas-based IT giant is lowering its NAND flash array pricing to about the same as—or even below—the standard 15K hard-disk drives. This will apply to the full line of Dell Storage SC8000, SC4020 and SCv2000 series with hybrid flash or all-flash array configurations, the company said.

"We're going to break the flash price barrier; we're going to be coming in at $1.66 per gigabyte," Dell Storage Vice President Alan Atkinson (pictured) told eWEEK. "That includes all the software, controller, three-year warranty and full array functionality. We're literally going to be below the price of HDDs on a raw (capacity) basis."

With $3 and up pretty much the standard pricing for All-NAND flash arrays, cutting the base price nearly in half would have to perk up the ears of IT hardware buyers, who are constantly refreshing various parts of their data centers for large amounts of money and always looking for a good deal.

Another Pricing War on the Horizon?

You might remember that it was only a couple of months ago that Dell put its toe in the water with regards to an entry-level pricing war. We broke the news here on eWEEK that Dell had knocked a $25,000 2U starter array system down to $14,000; then eWEEK checked a couple of days later on the company Website and saw that it was marked down again to $8,800. Perhaps Dell was trying to find out if people were paying attention.

Well, apparently that caused quite a stir because Dell pumped the price back up to $12,669 just two days later after we cited the $8,800 price.

Again, Dell is competing on price, only as a more concerted effort around its all-flash systems.

"What this means from a market point of view is that it opens up a general-purpose use case for flash," Atkinson said. "The only object I ever hear from anybody when I talk about solid-state or flash is cost. This kind of takes that objection off the table."

So Dell now can offer Dell Storage SC4020 all-flash systems for as low as $1.66/GB street price and as low as 58 cents per gigabyte for typical hybrid flash configurations, Atkinson said.

Different Tiers of Storage

"Dell's intelligent data placement strategy allows different types of flash storage—SLC (single-level cell flash), MLC (multi-level cell flash) and TLC (triple-level cell flash)—to be efficiently deployed in multiple tier architectures that can be more cost-effective than single tier flash-based arrays," IDC Research Director Eric Burgener said.

Dell's TLC 3D NAND technology in its Samsung disks puts it in the storage density lead at 45TB per rack unit for flash-based arrays and drops the dollar per gigabyte cost of enterprise flash storage to roughly the same cost as 15K RPM HDDs, but with significantly higher performance, Burgener said.

The newest flash storage drives are available in capacities up to 3.8 terabytes, the company said. The Dell Storage SC4020 can provide a complete 90TB array in only 2U of rack space. Additionally, Dell Storage SC8000 arrays can support 62 percent more flash for a total of up to 3PB of raw flash capacity in a single array, Dell said.

Dell has done well in the last year in selling solid-state storage. Dell Storage SC Series all-flash and hybrid flash revenue jumped 89 percent year-over-year for the first quarter of 2015.

Dell Storage SC Series arrays will begin supporting Mainstream Read-Intensive flash drives, based on TLC 3D NAND, in August, the company said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...