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Rollout: Compellent's Storage Center 3.5

The Upshot

With support for both iSCSI and Fibre Channel devices, Compellent's Storage Center 3.5 brings cutting-edge features, such as thin provisioning, tiered storage with automatic data migration and WAN-optimized replication, to midmarket arrays.
Conventional SAN arrays are hard to administer and have limited flexibility. Users must choose between FC for speed and iSCSI for lower cost. Static RAID sets and logical disk allocations lead to over-provisioning and low utilization.
Compellent's Storage Center has a terrific mix of high-end features and impressive flexibility. Even if it's not quite as easy to manage as arrays that support Microsoft's Simple SAN initiative, the features for the price make Storage Center a winner.

Compellent's Storage Center 3.5

Storage vendors have been calling their entry-level and midrange SAN disk arrays modular for several years. But Compellent Technology's Storage Center 3.5 fits the bill better than any of the competition with its winning feature set and flexible storage options.

Rather than spend R&D dollars on developing hardware disk controllers and enclosures, Compellent uses industry-standard servers as disk controllers and OEM supplier Xyratex's SBOD (switched bunch of disks) enclosures that incorporate Fibre Channel (FC) switching components and JBOD (just a bunch of disks) for SATA drives.

Standard, But Outstanding

Although using standard components can result in a plain-vanilla array system, Compellent's storage system is anything but. Unlike those on more conventional systems, such as the significantly more expensive EMC Clariion CX3 or Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Thunder 9500 series, the Storage Center's ports are not dedicated. Each of the four available slots on the server-based controllers can hold a four-port FC or a one-port Gigabit Ethernet HBA (host bus adapter) for iSCSI. All the ports can be used for server connections or replication, and the FC ports can be used for back-end connections to disk enclosures. Storage Centers can support up to 784 drives--significantly more than the competitors--and the controllers can be configured into a two-node active-active cluster.

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