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Live From C-Drive

When Compellent's PR folks invited me to attend their annual C-Drive user and channel partner conference, I thought I'd pass. As a native New Yorker, a trip to Minneapolis, even in May let alone February, wasn't nearly as attractive as, say, an all-expense paid trip to VMworld Europe in Cannes (VMware PR please note) or even Vegas. Add in that the last time I went to a vendor conference I wasn't allowed out of the press room without a minder and the whole thing didn't really sound like a day at the beach. When they promised that I would not only be able to attend the technical sessions like a real user but would also have full access to the attendees I thought it may be worth a trip.

Given that many organizations have slashed training and travel budgets, I was impressed that 400 partners and users, along with a handful of brave analysts including this intrepid reporter, braved the Great White North to drink the Compellent Kool-Aid and network with their peers. Given that Compellent only has about 1,300 customers, and that NetApp canceled their first annual user event due to lack of interest, 400 attendees is a bunch.

Equally impressive was how wide Compellent opened the kimono laying up their roadmap through 2010. It of course included the expected features like 10-Gbps Ethernet and FCoE support (which they'll implement using a CNA rather than writing their own stack), SAS 2 drive enclosures and 2.5" drive support, but also included a few unique cool features.

That's not to say the current Storage Center software wasn't already impressive. Compellent's automatic data progression that moves data pages between tiers of storage in a Storage Center and even between the faster outer and slower inner tracks of drives dynamically, based on how frequently the page is being accessed, is already the most sophisticated way to take advantage of SSDs in a SAN array. EMC is promising their FAST implementation starting on V-MAX at some point in the near future, but Compellent's been shipping for years.

Storage Center 5.0, due later this year adds several exciting new features:

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