Compellent simplifies replication, cuts pricing

By Dave Simpson

-- With the introduction of its Storage Center 5 SAN array and software today, Compellent has added a number of features designed to simplify storage management tasks such as replication and to cut initial and ongoing storage costs.

A Portable Volume feature provides an alternative to expensive disaster recovery practices such as using dark fiber WAN connections, and/or the more common practice of shipping secondary SAN arrays to the primary site, copying data, and shipping the array back to the remote site.

Portable Volume allows administrators to replicate data to external drives to speed up the initial synchronization process and "jumpstart" the replication operation, according to Bruce Kornfeld, Compellent's vice president of marketing. Users connect the 1.5TB or 2TB external drives to a Compellent array via a USB port, and the company's Enterprise Manager software automates the process. Data is protected by 128-bit encryption, and the drives are shipped overnight to the remote site. After the initial synchronization, companies can proceed with replication over low-bandwidth WAN links.

Kornfeld claims that the Portable Volume feature can reduce the time required for initial replication from weeks or months to days.

Compellent also added support for SAS drives (up to 384) for the first time in its SAN arrays, enabling automated tiered storage across SAS, SATA, Fibre Channel and/or solid-state disk (SSD) drives. Users can configure the arrays with 450GB, 15,000rpm SAS drives or 1TB, 7,200rpm drives.

Also new in Storage Center 5 is a twist on RAID-6 (dual parity) technology that, according to Kornfeld, eliminates the write penalty associated with some RAID-6 implementations. In Compellent's implementation, data is first written to high-speed drives in a RAID-10 configuration, and then the system dynamically migrates inactive data (via a Data Progression feature) to a RAID-6 configuration for high availability.

Virtual Ports technology allows users to virtualize ports (Fibre Channel or iSCSI) on a Storage Center array, and to create volumes in servers without worrying about paths – a feature that may be most appealing to companies building internal clouds, according to Kornfeld. Virtual Ports decreases the number of controllers and switch ports required by 50%.

A Server Mapping feature allows server/storage administrators to create and map virtual machines (VMs) much faster compared to manual or traditional scripting methods. Finally, Compellent added consistency groups to its arrays, which allows users to take snapshots at exactly the same time across different volumes (up to 40 volumes simultaneously).

The company also reduced pricing on its SAN arrays. For example, an entry-level configuration with one controller and 8TB of capacity is priced around $12,000, and a 10TB SAS-based configuration with dual controllers is priced at $21,000, including software features such as Virtual Ports, Server Mapping, consistency groups, thin provisioning, Fast Track data placement, and snapshots.

An 8.7TB configuration with the above software, automated tiered storage, replication, six 1TB, 7,200rpm SAS drives and six 460GB, 15,000rpm drives is priced at $38,100 and includes Data Progression tiering and Remote Instant Replay replication licenses.

The optional Portable Volume kit with two 2TB drives starts at $1,250.

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This article was originally published on January 11, 2010