Vendors Play Integration Duet

Compellent and OnStor team on integrated Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and file system

March 28, 2006

4 Min Read
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Compellent and OnStor are combining to serve up an integrated Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NAS system.

Compellent's Storage Center controllers already support Fibre Channel and iSCSI in the same SAN. As of today, Compellent is adding NAS support through an OEM deal with OnStor. OnStor's Bobcat NAS gateways will connect to Compellent controllers and disk to form a common pool of storage. The file-and-block storage can take advantage of Compellent's Data Progression application that runs on its SANs and automatically moves inactive data from Fibre Channel to cheaper SATA drives. (See Compellent 'Blocks' ILM.)

The partnership helps both startups battle EMC and Network Appliance, which both offer systems that combine Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and file storage in one system. (See EMC Refreshes NAS, SAN, NetApp Banks on iSCSI, and NetApp Does the Storage Two-Step.)

The two startups haven't completely integrated their systems. Compellent will not re-brand OnStor's gateways, and the systems use separate management consoles. But Compellent will sell and service Bobcat gateways for customers that want to buy systems from both vendors and for its current customers that want to add NAS.

Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business falls into the second category. The college added a Bobcat gateway to its Compellent Storage Center before the partnership became official.Fisher College has had a Compellent SAN in place since early 2004. Nick Poolos, systems developer at the college, decided last fall to replace aging Novell file services with a NAS. He wanted a NAS gateway that was not only compatible with his SAN but virtualized his block-and-file storage in one pool.

"We briefly looked at other NAS vendors, but we would have to implement a second SAN if we wanted to pool storage," Poolos says. "We also looked at NAS with integrated storage, but that was causing same problems we were trying to avoid with servers -- they were over in another block, off the Compellent system. You can't move storage around that way -- you're managing two storage pools. It was a big cost benefit for us to not have to separate pools of storage. That defeats the purpose of having a SAN to begin with."

Poolos says he takes advantage of the Data Progression application to move data across tiers of storage based on usage. That makes it easier to manage storage for 125 faculty members, 150 staffers, and 5,500 students. Poolos says because student data is not permanent, it gets treated differently than staff and faculty files.

"Every student gets a lab account with a quota of storage," he says. "Some students use it heavily, some never use it, and some are in between. If files haven't been touched in a certain period of time, they will be moved to slower but cheaper storage."

The integrated systems start at $71,000 for a 2-Tbyte package of one Storage Center controller and one Bobcat gateway. A 6-TByte configuration with two controllers, two gateways, and Data Progression software costs $173,000.Analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group says the two companies' technologies are a good fit because Compellent lacked file services and OnStor does not sell storage. He says it was also the best way for Compellent and OnStor to compete against the big guys.

"Compellent absolutely needed file services, and they got it through this partnership," Taneja says. "If Compellent lets a customer go somewhere else for file services, they may lose that customer down the road to the other company. OnStor also needs neutral third parties to sell its disk."

OnStor customers can attach its gateways to any disk, but customers that don't have spare capacity must buy their own storage. That has prompted OnStor to line up storage partners to help push sales of its gateways, including a deal with 3PAR similar to its Compellent partnership. OnStor also has reseller deals with Nexsan and Xiotech. (See ONStor, 3PAR Double-Team, ONStor, Xiotech Partner, and ONStor, Nexsan Deliver NAS.)

While OnStor's other partnerships allow both vendors and their resellers to sell the products and include a single point of contact for support, Compellent will handle all sales and support of the integrated Compellent/OnStore systems.

Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

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