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Dell Expands Storage Options With New Appliances

Announcement also includes support for SharePoint in DX Object Store and Brocade and Force10 switch support.

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Dell Wednesday unveiled a range of products at the Dell Storage Forum in London that it says fit into its fluid data strategy, which emphasizes value, ease of use, and economies of scale.

The company introduced a new deduplication and compression appliance, the DR4000 Disk Backup Appliance, for small businesses and mid-sized enterprise customers. The DR4000 performs inline deduplication, enables remote data replication, and can compress data up to 15 times. It works with most data protection and backup packages, and is managed via a browser-based interface. The DR4000 includes licensing for replication and Symantec’s Open Storage Technology (OST).

The DR4000 comes in three models: 3.6TB of pre-RAID capacity, with 35TB of logical capacity; 7.2TB with 70TB; and the largest model, which has 12TB of raw capacity and 130TB of logical capacity.

The DR4000 will compete with appliances from EMC Data Domain, Quantum and Exagrid, but is differentiated by built-in replication. With the DR4000, the company has adopted an all-inclusive licensing program, which is similar to that of its EqualLogic arrays. This means that any enhancement to the DR4000 appliance such as replication will be provided to customers at no charge. This is significant as EMC Data Domain provides replication only as an optional component.

[ Get advice from Azaleos on how to steer clear of common Sharepoint mistakes. See 5 SharePoint Pitfalls To Avoid. ]

The DR4000 is based on technology acquired from Ocarina Networks, which Dell bought in July 2010. Wednesday's announcement follows Dell's introduction of the DX600G Storage Compression Node in October, which is used in its DX Object Storage system to compress primary unstructured archive data, and signals further integration with Dell Compellent and Dell EqualLogic storage platforms.

Dell intends to use Ocarina's deduplication and compression technology in its Compellent Storage Center systems, and its EqualLogic storage and PowerVault array products. Whatever direction Dell takes with the rest of its deduplication and compression technologies in its NAS and SAN products, it will be tailor-made for the platform itself, whether accommodating different performance expectations, different levels of content awareness, or resource availability. The company intends to build out its deduplication and compression appliance platform. Though currently offering products for SMBs and mid-sized enterprises, Dell said it would introduce models with more scale and throughput for large data centers and edge-to-core implementations for distributed enterprises.

Dell Wednesday also introduced enhancements to its Dell Compellent Storage System, including a 64-bit operating system, the ability to scale to large storage capacities, and expanded VMware support for virtualization. In the VMware realm, Dell announced support for copy offload and thin provisioning unmap VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) primitives, which allows the Compellent Storage Center array to contact VMware vCenter to suspend all virtual machines that are attached to a LUN that is running out of space. VAAI offloads specific storage operations to the Compellent Storage Array, allowing performance enhancements and eliminating redundant data flow. Dell Compellent was among the first vendors to implement VAAI.

The new operating system also includes support for the Hardware Assisted Locking VAAI primitive, which prevents virtual machines from competing for the same block storage, thereby improving performance. In addition, Dell now supports VMware's Site Recovery Manager 5, which features automated failback and new workflows for migration and downtime. Finally, Dell said it has integrated Compellent Storage Center management with a vSphere 5 Plug-in, which allows administrators to manage virtual storage resources from the vSPhere 5 client.

Dell also announced a services offering built around SharePoint implementation for its DX Object Store, Compellent support for the newest Brocade 16Gbps Fibre Channel switches, and EqualLogic support for Force10 10Gb switches, the first proof point of its integration of its Force10 acquisition.

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.

InformationWeek is conducting our third annual State of Enterprise Storage survey on data management technologies and strategies. Upon completion, you will be eligible to enter a drawing to receive an Apple iPad 2. Take our Enterprise Storage Survey now. Survey ends Jan. 13.

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