Compellent wins Microsoft Storage Partner of the Year

Compellent Storage Center offers Windows administrators an easy and familiar interface using a Web-based GUI to manage their networked storage. By offering thin provisioning, Compellent makes it easy for Windows administrators to reduce initial deployment costs by increasing capacity incrementally based on application demand.

Compellent Storage Center offers Windows administrators an easy and familiar interface using a Web-based GUI to manage their networked storage. By offering thin provisioning, Compellent makes it easy for Windows administrators to reduce initial deployment costs by increasing capacity incrementally based on application demand. The flexibility of Compellent Storage Center, coupled with its integration with Volume Shadow Copy Services, makes it possible for administrators to recover data for Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and other Microsoft applications—quickly and efficiently. Compellent also helps consolidate file-based data by offering a fully integrated, network-attached storage gateway that uses the enterprise features of the Compellent SAN and takes advantage of native Windows file-level features.

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Compellent's special sauce is their data lifecycle manangement, moving less accessed storage to cheaper disk which is uber cool.  But most storage admins want a command line interface which they don't offer....also most vendors now offer Thin-Provisioning (NetApp has had it forever).  I like Compellent, but my enterprise data is staying on the big guns of storage, NetApp, EMC, Hitatchi...
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Tony, thanks for the response and to each his own way dude.  Stay with what works. 


From the thin provisioning perspective I have to disagree with you there amigo.  That really depnds on the space guarantee setting that is managed by the SAN administrator.  I know from experience that it's NetApp's best practice and default setting for all volumes that are created to set space guarantees equal to "volume", which reserves space equal to the size of the volume being created.  Not really thin if you ask me man.


Data Progression (ILM) is uber cool, and one ingredient in the special sauce, but NetApp does not provide functionality similar to Data Progression. I know that NetApp has partnered with 3rd party vendors to provide file based ILM. Those products are not fully integrated, they only work with Windows, are far more expensive, and do not work at the block level. While NetApp can utilize both SATA and FC disks in a single system, I personally have found that Compellent is the only vendor to provide automated tiered storage with these drives.


Cheers

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I wasn't commenting that NetApp has a similar ILM product, that's why I said it's Compellent special sauce.  While you are correct about space guaranty on the volume, most NetApp admins I know only guarrenty on business critical apps like SQL and Exchange....NAS/NFS/CIFS is usually only file or none....while its not "purely" thin-provisioning, its still possible.  In reality, does anyone really want to over-commit storage, how valuable is thin-provisioning in the end.  I will tell you this, thin provisioning is automatic with NFS on VMWare, slap ASIS on top of it and I'll take the 40-60% reduction in storage over ILM any day of the week.


 See you next week!!!

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Good point my man.  Should be a fun couple of days next week man....looking forward to it.
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I've got a few comments for you guys.  First off, if Compellent didn't have a command line I wouldn't have bought it.  The actual command to create a new volume on Compellent looks like this: "volume create -name CommandLineRox -size 2000g -readcache true -writecache true".  You can add parameters to tell it which server to attach the LUN to and configure the block level ILM all in one command.


On Thin Provisioning, Compellent still has the TP advantage for VMWare that blows away the benefit of using NFS.  The main reason ESX guys are starting to use NFS is the enormous waste inside a VMDK file.  With Compellent's TP, I can create any size VMDK and I don't consume physical space on the SAN LUN until I write data inside the VMDK.  Compellent can recognize white space (sequential zeros) inside a VMDK file and ignore it.  They do the same thing with white space in a SQL or Oracle DB.  So after I create my 100g VMDK file on a Compellent 4Gbps FC attached LUN, I've consumed 0g of disk space.


Compellent is the only system that has this kind of block level intelligence and an uber command line on top of loads of special sauce!  TP and ILM just scratch the surface.


By the way, for those of you who think that NFS is faster than an FC LUN, VMWare disagrees with you.  Take a look at "Comparison of storage performance protocols in ESX Server 3.5", http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/storage_protocol_perf.pdf


I would never use NFS for my production VM's.  Of course, on NetApp, NFS is definitely faster than the SAN emulation they use to mount an FC LUN.  NetApp is just a NAS after all.  So I guess it depends on which SAN you use.  If you use NetApp, I'd recommend NFS for VMWare.  If you use a native FC SAN, then FC will blow away NFS performance every time.


-Jason

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Jason,


 I evaluated Compellent about 6 months ago and was told by the SE and Sales SE there is no command line interface, if they changed that, great!  However when I looked at it, is wasn't available.


As for the VMWare doc...thats a completely loaded document because they only cover a single ESX host.  The original design of NFS was having multiple hosts reading and writing from the same target.  Once you go beyond 5 ESX hosts accessing the same NFS mount, performance beings to equal that of 2GB FC - provided you designed your ESX infrastructure correctly.  By using NFS on multiple ESX hosts, you elimate the SCSI reservations used by VMWare on FC with VMFS.  Using NFS on NetApp gives you the same exact thin-provision you described with Compellent.


Lastly, I can only comment on NetApp, I haven't seen NFS on other storage platforms, but another big reason the NetApp NFS gives you FC like performance is their WAFL filesystem.  There are other advantages as well, like being able to snapshot all the VMDK's on the storage side without need to do anything on the ESX side, again, you're eliminating VMFS.  Or being able to share out your NFS mounts via CIFS and mount your snapshots on media servers for backups, and my favorite ASIS (automatic single instance storage) that removed redundant blocks and replaces it with metadata...I've seen almost 50% reduction in storage on VDI with ASIS.


Just to be clear...I'm a fan of Compellent, I think they have a nice product...but storage vendors come and go except for the big players I mentioned earlier.  It won't be a shock if one of those bigger players buys Compellent just for their ILM technology.

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Hey Michael,


See ing as you ahve some experience with Compellent,. Are you familiar with Equallogic? We have  afew of their arrays here and really like the simple management, and addons in thier Host integration toolkit. They will also do some ILM and automatically move things around to different speed disks as needed (although we have yet to use this as all our disk is the same speed).


 Since Dell grabbed them up we are now a little scared to buy any more.


 


Have any comparisons betweene them that you feel like sharing?

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I am familiar with EqualLogic.  I'm a partner of Dell/EqualLogic and I'm a partner of Compellent.  Let me first say, I like EqualLogic for some environments, not all, but some.  On the flip side, I like Compellent in some environments but not in others.  Hence why I'm associated with both.  I am a big fan of the technology that Compellent brings to the market and that is why they are a strategic partner of mine.  I also have to say that every SAN vendor has their own story and to stick to my "solution provider" mantra, I look at all aspects of a client environment and then make the best decision based on those factors.


The best thing I loved about EqualLogic is that it is very easy to setup and configure.  We had one up and going along with replication in a very short time. 


Let me tell you some of things that I personally don't find appealing to me about EqualLogic:


Snapshot Space Allocation must be pre-allocated, which wastes storage resources.  EqualLogic's fixed technology where you are limited to iSCSI server-attach with SATA drives only and where performance is limited to 100 MB/s maximum for now until 10G becomes more prevalent.


I don't like the fact that you have fixed RAID levels to where you are limited to one RAID level per array.  One big thing that I noticed in the EqualLogic documentation  is that it recommends changing RAID levels during off-hours.  With Compellentyou can change the raid levels whenever you want and it schedules the change for you when the system has idle cycles.


From a Space/Disk Utilization perspective you can only put 14 drives per enclosure, and the use of SATA requires extensive overhead.


Now my opinion on the controllers is that I like separate controllers from an availability perspective, whereas EqualLogic has both controllers in a single unit.  I had a customer recently add another whole controller for a performance increase.  Afterwards, we were having a discussion around SAN technology and I mentioned to him that with a Compellent SAN he could have just added IO cards to increase the IOPS to his servers.


Don't be scared to buy from them.  You were obviously pleased about something, but if you feel that the technology isn't allowing you to be as flexible as you want then look at other vendors, there are some great ones out there.

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Right on dude....EQ uses Copy on Write for their snaps which pre-allocates like Mike said...Compellent uses Allocate on Write which only right writes blocks when they change.


 The only problems I've "heard" - I haven't seen this in action, with EQ is keeping a large number of snaps starts to impact performace of the production LUN.

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Tony...you are right on that.  It does have a impact that is definitely noticeable.
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