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Dell XC hyper-converged systems, high-end SC arrays added

At Dell World, Dell moves to allow EqualLogic customers to import onto Compellent arrays and adds all-flash Dell XC hyper-converged appliances ahead of the EMC acquisition.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Dell kicked off its annual Dell World conference Monday night with the launch of Dell XC and SC enterprise storage products that were in the works long before the company revealed its proposed $67 billion acquisition of storage giant EMC.

The company spotlighted the global availability of a faster new Dell Storage SC9000 storage array with 12 Gbps SAS expansion enclosures and Storage Center 6.7 operating system update. New software features include Live Volume with automatic failover for built-in disaster recovery with no downtime, enhanced data compression, "thin" import for EqualLogic customers and integrated host-side data protection for Oracle, Microsoft and VMware environments.

Dell also launched its highest-density XC6320 hyper-converged appliance and XC630-10F and XC6320-6F all-flash nodes. The Dell XC Series integrates Dell's x86 servers and Nutanix's hyper-converged storage and virtualization software stack through an OEM deal between the vendors. The XC appliances will become available in November.

Travis Vigil, executive director of Dell Storage, said the company has shipped thousands of appliances to hundreds of customers since announcing the Dell XC Series last year at Dell World. The largest customer, the U.S. Department of Justice, recently entered into a contract to deploy virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for 55,000 users.

Dell's XC6320 has four compute nodes and supports more than 44 TB of storage in a 2U form factor to enable customers to reduce hardware rack space, power and cooling. The XC630 all-flash node version will be a 1U node, with a three-node minimum configuration required.

Dell's flash plays grab IT's attention

But the Dell flash product that's already starting to turn heads is the SC Series, with its support for economical triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND flash. Vigil said the TLC 3D NAND support has been available for less than two months and is already exceeding the company's forecasts.

"What Dell is doing in flash is the most compelling part of the story. They are unique in leveraging TLC and storage efficiency to change the economics of flash. For me, this is the biggest deal for customers," e-mailed Laura DuBois, program vice president for IDC's storage practice. "This is an offensive move other competitors will need to react to."

George Crump, founder and president of Storage Switzerland, said the SC9000 array's automatic tiering makes it well suited to the use of TLC 3D NAND, which has lower write endurance than other types of flash, such as single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC).

"I've been saying for years now that, in the data center, we're not pushing MLC hard enough. Using this [SC Series] sort of as a shock absorber for 3D NAND TLC makes an awful lot of sense," Crump said. "You don't want to write to TLC too much. Preferably you'd like to read from it. So what they'll be able to do is put the really active data on an MLC tier, and as it cools off, move it to the TLC tier, and chances are that it'll never be written to again."

The SC9000 supports configurations that are all-flash, whether write-intensive SLC or read-intensive MLC and TLC 3D NAND solid-state drives (SSDs), hard disk drive (HDD) only and a hybrid combination of SSDs and HDDs. The SC400 enclosures have 12 3.5-inch drives, and the SC420 has 24 2.5-inch drive slots.

Dell claims the new SC9000 can get more than 385,000 IOPS, a 40% boost over the prior SC8000, and, with the new 12 Gbps SAS enclosures, more than double the throughput. The SC9000, which is based on the 13th generation of Dell's PowerEdge servers, has more than four times the system memory and can scale up to more than 3 PB of raw capacity per array and scale out still more via federation, through the seamless movement of volumes between SC Series arrays.

Vigil claimed the SC9000 can get to a street price as low as $1.42 per GB of raw capacity. With nearline compression factored in, he said the price comes down to $0.65 per GB, including the array, software and three years of Dell Copilot support.

Vigil said the enhanced compression occurs on the lowest tier of active data, as opposed to prior SC Series models, where it occurred in the lowest tier for inaccessible snapshots. For instance, in an all-flash configuration with MLC and TLC tiers, the compression would occur on the TLC tier for active data. Vigil said the improved compression provides a "much bigger population from which you can compress."

The SC9000 as well as older SC8000 and SC4020 models can take advantage of the new features enabled by the SCOS 6.7 update, such as the enhanced compression and the thin import of volumes from PS Series onto an SC array.

The PS Series are arrays Dell acquired from EqualLogic while the SC Series comes from Compellent.

"We talked a lot about how we're going to a common architecture based on SC Series and that we're going to provide on-ramps for PS Series customers to easily move to the SC Series as their next logical step, as they're going through this storage lifecycle," Vigil said. "This thin import capability is the first capability we're offering to be able to do that."

He added that cross-platform replication and common day-to-day management will follow.

Next Steps

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Users look to TLC for a lower-cost flash option

OEM deal with Nutanix brings Dell XC hyper-converged storage

Dig Deeper on All-flash arrays