Compellent Adds Integral NAS

Jettisons ONStor, turns to Microsoft for diskless SAN capabilities UPDATED 3:00 PM

July 17, 2007

4 Min Read
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Compellent has added an integral "diskless" NAS to its block-based Storage Center SAN, via Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 R2. (See Compellent Adds NAS to SAN.)

The move highlights a growing consolidation of NAS and SAN capabilities, as newer block-based storage vendors seek to compete against NetApp's dominance. "The general trend is to have block and file services out of a single box," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy. "NetApp has been a leader here, and most other vendors have the two elements pretty distinct... So this is par for the course. The industry expects Compellent to have something."

Compellent has collaborated with Microsoft to incorporate a 1U NAS box that rackmounts alongside the Compellent SAN. The NAS unit is packed with a dual-core 2.4-GHz processor, 4 Gbytes memory, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, two 4-Gbit/s FC ports, redundant power and cooling, and the ability to boot from the Compellent SAN. The SAN holds the OS, configuration settings, and other key elements of the entire system.

iSCSI connectivity will be available early in August, Compellent says.

"We're eating our own dog food on this one," says Burce Kornfeld, VP of marketing for Compellent. "We've been saying boot from SAN is good for application servers. It's also good for NAS. We've created a boot DVD that tells the NAS server how to boot from the SAN, then tells it how to integrate with Microsoft's NAS application."That Microsoft application will allow Compellent to incorporate its own automated tiered storage, replication, and thin provisioning alongside Redmond's Single Instance Storage, which de-duplicates data at the file level, Kornfeld says. Also, Compellent's making use of Microsoft's Virtual Disk Services (VDS) to streamline management, and Multipath I/O (MPIO) to handle redundancy on multiple links.

One customer, hosting and managed services provider Data393, based in Englewood, Colo., is looking forward to adding the NAS to its newly acquired Compellent SAN. "It's definitely nice to have one vendor. It's nice to have one throat to choke, instead of having someone talking to the SAN piece and someone else on the NAS," says CIO Steve Merkel.

The company went live with a 10-Tbyte Compellent SAN, linked with Cisco-based Fibre Channel, within the last six weeks, after evaluating gear from EMC, HDS, NetApp, Lefthand, and EqualLogic, among others. Merkel says the choice of Compellent was largely the fit with his particular requirements, which he says aren't quite as high-end as some solutions he saw. And he knew he had an option for NAS, thanks to Compellent partnerships.

Notably, as a result of building its own integrated NAS gateway, Compellent has discontinued a NAS gateway bundling arrangement with ONStor announced back in March 2006, and it looks like less formal arrangements will also go by the board. "[W]e no longer are including ONStor's NAS with the Compellent SAN," writes Compellent spokesman Liem Nguyen in an email today.

"While the Compellent SAN is capable of connecting to most third party NAS systems, especially those with standards-based operating systems, customers have asked for a more integrated SAN with NAS platform because they want to avoid the pain of custom implementations, and multiple contact points for support," stated Kornfeld.Compellent may have experienced some partnership pain points of its own. One customer, cited in the original press release announcing the ONStor/Compellent partnership, says he removed the ONStor system in January 2007, citing problems with ONStor's file system and issues of data integrity. Nick Poolos, systems/network specialist at the Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business is still using Compellent's SAN.

"We'll probably look at Compellent's NAS gateway, but right now we don't have time to try anything new," he says.

ONStor senior director of marketing and communications Douglas Gruehl acknowledges that ONStor is no longer a vendor of record for Ohio State, but he cites a range of other university customers, including the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Penn State, the University of California at Merced, the University of Washington, Bristol University, and Cambridge University.

Also, Gruehl says joint customers with Compellent accounted for less than 1 percent of the "almost 3 Pbytes of heterogeneous vendor arrays attached to ONStor."

Though Compellent says its support of NAS capabilities is included with SAN support, the vendor is pricing hardware and software maintenance separately from the systems themselves. A new Storage Center version 3.6 NAS costs about $35,950. Adding to an existing Storage Center SAN costs $9,995.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Compellent Technologies Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • ONStor Inc.

  • Taneja Group

  • 3PAR Inc.

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