Compellent adds SSD, reveals technology roadmap

Data StorageGreen-ITInnovationStorage

SAN-in-a-box specialist Compellent has revealed its technology roadmap for the next two years. It includes SSD, which the company said will deliver big cost, energy and efficiency savings.

Compellent now has customers using SSD (solid-state disk) drives in their storage systems, the SAN-in-a-box developer announced, as it discussed its technology roadmap for 2009 and 2010.

The addition of SSD – it is using drives from STEC – will cut costs and energy consumption, as well as improving performance and efficiency, claimed Bruce Kornfeld, the company’s marketing VP, in an exclusive interview at Compellent’s C-Drive customer conference.

“If there’s a drive technology that fits right in Compellent’s sweet spot, it is SSD,” he said. He explained that this is because Compellent’s technology operates below the volume level, building virtual storage volumes from blocks that come from multiple disk types. It then automatically moves inactive data to slower blocks within the volume.

This means an array only needs a few SSDs, Kornfeld said. By comparison, less granular storage from other companies needs a whole tray of SSDs, set up as a discrete Tier 0.

Mike Dufek, the information systems director at Munder Capital Management, confirmed that with just two SSDs in place, his Compellent system ran 10 to 15 times faster. SSD removed the need to buy and run 15 Fibre Channel drives to provide similar I/O performance, he said.

As a result, although each SSD costs more than a Fibre Channel drive, the overall cost was lower. Dufek added: “The power for SSD is half that of a Fibre Channel drive, so if one SSD gives the performance of 15 Fibre Channel spindles, that’s 8W versus 240W.”

Kornfeld said that Compellent’s technology roadmap is topped by three new storage virtualisation features – Live Volume, Portable Volume, and Virtual Ports, all due for release from the third quarter of 2009.

Live Volume creates an additional layer of virtualisation on the storage network, allowing a virtual machine to be replicated or migrated from one SAN to another – on a different site, typically – while it is running. Initially it will provide asynchronous replication; a synchronous version is planned for 2010.

Portable Volume eases the task of remote replication and saves bandwidth by allowing you to pre-stage data (encrypted and compressed) onto a 1.5TB external USB device. This is taken to the remote site and used to kick-start replication, after which the WAN takes over.

Virtual Ports means that users no longer need to allocate each connection two ports, one primary and one reserve, in case a controller fails or must go offline for maintenance. Instead, the ports are virtualised, and connections can be migrated between controllers in software. It means you need 50 percent fewer controller and switch ports, Kornfeld said.

The company also plans to add support for 8Gbit Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and 10Gbit iSCSI, with server multipathing between any combination of connections. These will need new HBAs and network cards in the storage controllers, which run Compellent’s operating software but are otherwise standard Supermicro servers. A new, more powerful, Series 40 controller based on Intel’s Nehalem processors is also on the way.

On the storage side, Kornfeld said that Compellent will introduce 15,000 rpm SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) and 2TB SATA disks later this year. The SAS drives will simply be tiered with equivalent-performance Fibre Channel drives.