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Dell Unwraps First Ocarina-Based Storage Offering

In the not-so-distant past, Dell's storage revenues primarily consisted of EMC commissions, which at a reported $1.29 billion in 2008 were nothing to sneer at. Fast forward to today after the acquisitions of companies like Compellent and EqualLogic, and the company's own intellectual property now represents nearly 80% of its storage revenues and more than 90% of its storage profits. Dell is now looking to leverage another acquisition, Ocarina Network (data compression and deduplication software), to drive its storage sales even higher.

During this week's Dell World 2011 in Austin, the company is announcing the Dell DX6000G Storage Compression Node (SCN) for its DX Object Storage Platform, which will start shipping next Tuesday. Targeted at big-data applications, the data management and retention solution can scale seamlessly to store billions of files or petabytes of information. The compression node can help customers "drastically" reduce the footprint of archival and cloud infrastructure by shrinking storage data file sizes up to 90%, depending on file types, says Dell. The list price of $25,000 includes three-year service support.

The node gets rave reviews from one of the beta users and Dell partner John Hodges, VP of global account project management, Jersey City, N.J.-based AvePoint, which has been providing governance solutions for Microsoft SharePoint since 2001. "We've done some internal testing this week on a complete set of different data types and saw compression rates of roughly 50 to 70% across the board with virtually no impact on the data center. This is how you optimize SharePoint costs." He adds that the SharePoint market is really hungry for this type of optimization and none of his other storage vendors have anything comparable. "Dell is probably one of the most compelling in terms of overall costs."

Dell has been integrating Ocarina's software since the acquisition in the summer of 2010. In a recent blog from Darren Thomas, VP/GM, Dell Storage, he wrote that Ocarina helped it understand the best practices in integrating technology acquisitions and embedding technology across multiple sites and platforms. There are two optimization goals, he says: best data shrinking at every tier of storage and keeping data shrunk through its lifecycle unless a user asks for it. "If you shrink the data early and keep it shrunk, you reduce storage costs, shrinking time for every storage workflow and bandwidth usage everywhere. It just makes more sense."

In addition to the DX offering, Thomas says, there are plans to include data optimization into Dell's NAS backup product as well as EqualLogic and Compellent platforms. The company is even looking at integrating this into servers at some point.

In other news at Dell World, the company announced that Dell Compellent storage and Dell Force 10 networking capabilities will be made available in existing vStart configurations starting in 2012. Combining Dell PowerEdge, PowerConnect and EqualLogic offerings with virtualization packages from VMware or Microsoft, vStart provides a pre-sized, pre-racked, pre-wired and pre-tested solution to ease deployment concerns.

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