Dell is making major changes to its enterprise storage portfolio that will see its products based on a single architecture in future. The firm is also to sell a new software-defined storage line that will operate the Nutanix operating system on Dell hardware.
Dell announced the changes to its storage line-up at the Dell User Forum in Miami, along with new products comprising the Dell Storage SC4020 array and the Dell XC Series that will be based on the Nutanix OS and offer the same converged compute-and-storage capabilities.
The move will see Dell's future storage products based on the Compellent platform that Dell gained when it acquired the firm in 2011. However, this platform will be augmented with key technologies from Dell's other acquisitions, including EqualLogic, according to Dell storage marketing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Robin Kuepers.
"Moving forward, we will continue with a single architecture that we will focus all our research and development work on. The foundation of that is what we currently have in Compellent, which is still best-in-class technology, and we will add all the other IP we have acquired, including EqualLogic, to bring that new architecture alive," he explained.
New products based on the unified platform are not expected to come to market for a couple of years.
However, Dell will continue to support existing customers of its PowerVault, EqualLogic and Compellent lines with new models and upgrades, Kuepers was keen to point out.
"This is a multi-year kind of journey, this is not something we will do overnight, but I think it is fair to the customers to disclose our strategy. We are not declaring anything end-of-life that we have today, so we are still protecting the customer investments on the current platforms," he said.
Dell will offer customers the ability to seamlessly integrate to the new architecture or stay on the current platforms, he added.
Going forwards, new products will simply be branded Dell Storage, starting with the SC4000 Series arrays. These are based on the Compellent platform, while EqualLogic models will be prefixed PS and PowerVault arrays prefixed MD.
The first SC4000 model, the SC4020, is due in August. Although based on the high-end Compellent platform, it is aimed at the mid-tier $25,000-$50,000 market, according to Kuepers.
"It has the same features and functionality as the SC8000 series, but brings it to a different price point," he said.
The SC4020 is a 2U rack-mount array capable of holding up to 24 drives for a capacity of over 400TB, which can be a mix of hard drives and SLC or MLC flash, with support for both Fibre Channel and iSCSI host connectivity.
Meanwhile, Dell is also moving into the software-defined storage arena with products based on software from Nutanix and Dell PowerEdge hardware.
"We're taking a Dell PowerEdge server, we will put the Nutanix software stack on that, and we start selling that sometime in the fourth quarter for this year under a new series, the XC Series," Kuepers said.
Software-defined storage is not yet well defined, he added, and so Dell decided to work with a partner that is adopting a standards-based approach by using x86 server hardware.
The Nutanix platform combines compute and storage capabilities into a single node, and has already gained much interest from customers building out new virtualised infrastructure.
"What is unique about Nutanix is that they are not only doing the storage, but also the CPU part for workloads, and it works with all the hypervisors for virtualisation, giving us an interesting value proposition for customers," Kuepers said.
The XC Series will enable Dell to target "leading-edge customers" who are willing to invest in a more revolutionary approach to infrastructure, he added, with a lot of interest coming from companies in the ISP and hosting space.
Although the XC Series will be potentially competing against Dell's own products for virtualised infrastructure, Kuepers said Dell has always been about freedom of choice.
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