Compellent: More performance, fewer drives

By Kevin Komiega

February 28, 2008—Compellent has fine-tuned the way its SAN software writes data to disk drives with new techniques that could boost performance and capacity utilization while simultaneously reducing disk drive requirements by up to 80%, according to company officials.

The latest release of the company's SAN software, Storage Center 4.0, features new software applications such as Fast Track, Thin Import, and Free Space Recovery, all of which help reduce the number of disk drives required, effectively reducing total cost of ownership and energy consumption.

The Fast Track application automatically places active data on the outer tracks of a disk drive to speed access to frequently used information. Compellent's vice president of marketing, Bruce Kornfeld, says competitive offerings place entire volumes on perimeter tracks, while Fast Track only moves frequently accessed data to the outer tracks of the drive, which accelerates performance and reduces drive requirements.

"If a storage system can differentiate between inner and outer tracks on the drive you can avoid putting inactive data or unallocated space on the outer tracks, so you get more performance out of the drives and you can buy fewer of them," says Kornfeld. "This technology can lower storage costs by 50% by reducing the number of drives."

Also new to Storage Center 4.0, the Thin Import feature reduces disk drive requirements by converting existing data into thin-provisioned volumes as it is copied to a Compellent SAN.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior storage analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, says the Thin Import technology has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of storage in the data center.

"Imagine being able to pull all the over-provisioned, over-allocated, and under-utilized capacity off your old expensive arrays and instantly apply just-in-time thin provisioning to those volumes," says Duplessie. "It is tantamount to taking your 25% utilized storage infrastructure to 80%. Think of what that would mean for everything from footprint to backup."

Storage Center 4.0 also includes a feature called Free Space Recovery, which reclaims unused space in Windows environments, and Application Optimizer, a tool that tunes the size of data transfers within the SAN to match I/O performance for different applications.

A Storage Center 4.0 QuickStart ILM Bundle is priced from approximately $57,200 with 7.2TB of capacity, a single controller, and the Fast Track, Thin Import, and Free Space Recovery applications. Users can also purchase the new Storage Center 4.0 applications and controller as individual upgrades.

This article was originally published on February 27, 2008