Dell jumps into object-based storage

Posted on March 24, 2010

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By Kevin Komiega

-- Dell unleashed a barrage of new storage products today with Dell-branded versions of EMC's Celerra and Data Domain deduplication systems, as well as a homegrown object-based storage system that marks Dell's first foray into a new segment of the storage market.

Topping the list of new products is Dell's DX Object Storage Solution, a system that uses metadata to store fixed digital content in a scalable, flat address space.

Dell (NSDQ: DELL) claims that the DX Object Storage Solution is designed to access, store and distribute billions of files or other digital content, from archiving to the cloud.

The hardware piece of the DX platform is supplied in the form of clustered 2U, 12-drive x86 storage nodes.

"We sell a lot of 2U, 12-drive servers, which gives us an advantage from a business perspective. We're leveraging that with user-friendly software to create a very strong [value proposition for managing secondary storage]," says Brett Roscoe, a senior manager at Dell.

Roscoe says Dell developed the object-based DX platform in-house, rather than re-branding or reselling the technology from one of its partners. However, object-based storage is a new frontier for Dell and the key to the platform's success is building strong partnerships, according to Roscoe.

"This represents a different direction for Dell. Data management is a growing space and our goal is to have a broad application set for this platform," he says.

Dell is building a partnership program around the object-based DX system by working with ISVs to develop horizontal and vertical applications for the platform. As part of this effort, Dell is launching a development kit for its partners, which uses an open HTTP interface that simplifies and minimizes the integration effort.

The company is currently working with a slew of vendors to integrate their applications with the DX Object Storage platform, including Acuo, Bridgehead Software, CommVault, EMC, Iron Mountain, Karos Health, Moonwalk, OpenText, Stealth Software, StoredIQ, Symantec and Teramedica.

The initial release, which is slated for the second quarter, will be targeted at healthcare, file and e-mail archiving, eDiscovery and content management applications.

Dell plans to work with other software vendors to build out the platform for additional applications in the future.

Forrester Research senior analyst Andrew Reichman says object-based storage systems are relevant for highly regulated archiving applications or large cloud service provider data depots -- two markets where he says Dell lacks a foothold, aside from supplying low-cost servers for cloud farms. 

"Object-based storage has been talked about a lot for cloud usage. I'm a bit skeptical of object-based storage as it is often a proprietary framework, compared to standard file interfaces that provide less metadata but are much more consistent across implementations," says Reichman. "EMC's Centera is one of the most prominent object-based storage systems, and its proprietary nature has caused frustration among customers, and has made it less promising as a product than software-based archive platforms."

Data deduplication

In addition to the DX launch, Dell added to its data deduplication portfolio by expanding its relationship with EMC to include the latest Data Domain deduplicating storage systems.

The new Dell-EMC DD Series includes three disk-based backup systems – the DD140, DD610 and DD630.

The systems are designed for edge sites that store backup or archive data locally for rapid restores and replicate it via a WAN for long-term storage. The DD630 and DD610 appliances feature up to 1.1TB/hour and 675GB/hour, respectively, of inline deduplication throughput. The DD630 supports up to 420TB of logical capacity and the DD610 stores up to 195TB.

The DD140 ties into larger Data Domain systems such as the DDX Array to feed recovery images back to a central data center for disaster recovery.

The DD630 and DD610 support the same software and storage protocols as the rest of the Data Domain product family, including NFS, CIFS, NetBackup OpenStorage (OST) and virtual tape library (VTL) as software options.

The appliances are also compatible with backup and archiving applications from Atempo, BakBone, CA, CommVault, EMC, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Symantec.

Disk-based backup

Also new to the Dell storage lineup are two versions of the PowerVault DL2100 disk-based backup system – one based on Symantec's Backup Exec 2010 and the other on CommVault's Simpana 8 software.

The PowerVault DL2100 Powered by Symantec Backup Exec 2010 uses source-based data deduplication and integrates with the Dell EqualLogic and Dell-EMC families of storage arrays and VMware vSphere virtualization solutions.

The PowerVault DL2100 Powered by CommVault Simpana software works with the Simpana SnapProtect client and the Dell EqualLogic PS Series of iSCSI SANs to provide new recovery options and streamline the data protection process.

The CommVault version also supports application-aware snapshot management. Dell claims that leveraging the snapshots in the Simpana software gives users the ability to perform granular application-aware recoveries for Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle and Windows, Linux and Unix file system environments. The same snapshot copies can also be automatically moved to deduplicated disk, tape or cloud storage.

Unified storage

Rounding out the product barrage, Dell will begin selling its own branded versions of EMC's Celerra NS line in the form of the Dell-EMC NS Series of storage systems.

The Dell-EMC NS Series, which includes the NS-120, NS-480 and NS-960, offers built-in tiering and deduplication across multiple data types, such as block or file, and various storage protocols.

Dell also announced the PowerVault NX3100, a dedicated NAS system designed to handle both block- and file-based data in a single system. The NX3100 features Single Instance Storage and built-in reporting through File Services Resource Manager, and scales to 24TB internally and up to 384TB externally.

The Dell-EMC NS-120, NS-480 and PowerVault NX3100 will be available in April. The NS960 is due in May.

Related articles:
Dell boosts DAS performance with 6Gbps SAS
EMC refreshes Data Domain dedupe systems
Dell ships 10GbE EqualLogic arrays, networking gear


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