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Storage becomes fluid by design

Dell develops scalable and adaptive storage systems for both SMBs and enterprises

Storage becomes fluid by design
Dell is looking to integrate systems from recent acquisitions to give customers an easy to manage environment.

Dell is holding its annual Dell Storage Forum in London, which is focusing on the development of fluid and scalable data storage.

The Forum is being held under the title ‘Fluid by Design', and is looking at the development of adaptive storage that changes when enterprises need it to, according to Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager of Dell Storage.

 Dell has focused on eight key areas for the development of fluid and adaptive storage solutions, the first is dynamic tiering, which allows companies to utilise a unique tiering app to move data to the most appropriate storage medium based on cost and performance.

"The reason why tiering is so important is, today, if you get the fastest drive in the world, or the most cost-effective drive in the world, the difference is about 4X in performance, you get a really fast drive spinning 15,000 rpm, or you can buy inexpensive drives running at 4,200rpm and you can take advantage of that cost, so for 4X, tiering across that is valuable, but now we have flash memory devices that have hundreds of times faster read and write times. You are not going to be tiering stuff that has 4X capability, you are tiering something that has 1000X performance and capacity, at that point, how you tier and how smartly you tier can make a huge difference in your performance and costs," said Thomas.

The second key area is Dell's development of innovative licensing.

"Dell is unique, we sell two products and both of them you can own the software licensing and the hardware can come and go, but the software licensing is yours. No other company does this and we built it so that customers can be very cost effective and cost efficient. If you bought a piece of software from us and changed the hardware three years later, you can still use that software," said Thomas.

The third key area for Dell is creating a harmonious storage system through mergers and acquisitions. Dell recently purchased four storage companies and combined them together to create a combined whole product.

"Each [company] one has a pillar to itself and is a great product, but when you combine these values they get even better. Combine EqualLogic with a Fluid File system that we built, when you do that and you are a customer with both of those systems in your IT shop, then you have one file system to manage. Our intention is to give you better values; if you buy one of your products, you get one set of values, if you buy more than one product, you get more," said Thomas.

Dell is also working on developing self-protection on all of its devices; Dell said that self-protection is essential as there is no longer such a thing as non-mission-critical data. Thomas said that Dell is currently working on a one-button-push protection system on its devices.

Maximising efficiency is also key to keeping up with and exceeding the expectations of the storage market, according to Dell.

"We bought a compression company; it is our intention to compress data as soon as possible and never rehydrate that data until it is time to rehydrate it. You can move it in its compressed form and every device we sell we use the exact same compression system, so you can rehydrate the data only when you read it," said Thomas.

This compression maximises company and storage efficiency by using a smaller data storage space.

Dell also believes that all their customers should have a consistent ownership experience.

"You should expect, if you get a really good product from us, you should get really good customer service; [we have] our Copilot programme, which guarantees that a customer has a friend inside Dell who will solve any problems or queries they may have. This does not just mean technical problems," said Thomas.

Thomas also said that cloud is a very important development for storage and while large enterprises are not going to move everything onto the cloud, because of security issues, cloud is coming.

"We would like to believe that one day our storage devices will have a button on it that says cloud and you push it, describe what you want and cloud becomes part of your tiering structure," he said.

Scale-Out Design is something that is now central to storage development. With the explosion of data companies need to be able to increase their storage capacity rapidly, without downtimes.

"We don't know how big storage is going to get, many, many of these systems need to get big and need to get big elegantly. So creating scale-out storage is important to us," said Thomas.

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