Dell beefs up its top of the line SC enterprise arrays

Dell Storage SC9000 slider

Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage, with the SC9000

AUSTIN — High-end enterprise arrays from EMC may be on the way, but the highest-end storage arrays in today’s Dell inventory received a major boost this at Dell World. The Dell Storage SC9000, which replaces the SC8000 as Dell’s flagship array, boasts major hardware enhancements, new 12Gb SAS expansion enclosures and next generation array software.

“We are very happy about the SC9000 release, which represents a major boost at the enterprise end of our storage portfolio,” said Travis Vigil, Executive Director, Product Management, Dell Storage.

While much of Dell World this year was upstaged by the announcement of Dell’s $67 billion acquisition of EMC the week before, Vigil made the interesting point that Dell storage, the part of the company likely to be most directly affected by EMC coming on board, actually received more interest than they ordinarily would have for their new releases as a result of the deal.

“We got a lot more attention around our announcements because EMC created renewed interest in what we are doing in the storage portfolio,” Vigil said.

The SC9000 is the most enterprise-focused SC offering Dell has released, and replaces the SC8000 at the top of the line. Memory in each of the dual controllers is up four times from before. The processors go from dual 6-cores in each controller to dual 8-cores. Back end SAS connectivity enhancements went from 6Gb to 12Gb. All of this gives the SC9000 has the ability to achieve more than 385,000 IOPS. The SC9000 also has more than double the throughput compared to previous SC arrays, provides more than three petabytes of raw capacity per array and scales-out even further in federated multi-array configurations.

“It is a major hardware upgrade, and is a big step forward compared to the normal incremental upgrade that customers expect when a new model is released,” Vigil said. “It is based on our 13th generation server platform, and delivers 40 per cent more IOPs than the previous model.”

The SC9000 features both all-flash and hybrid flash configurations, with Dell touting the all-flash arrays as offering prices as low as 85 cents per Gb net effective capacity. Still, while the price-performance benefits are strong, Vigil acknowledged that all-flash still comes at something of a price premium over the SC8000.

“We think the SC9000 will skew higher in the market because of flash, but there is a difference in price,” he said. “We are keeping the SC8000 around for those customers who don’t need that increased performance and whose needs would be better served by the SC8000.”

With the SC series, over the last 18 months Dell has been incrementally bringing out more specialized models focused on specific user needs and requirements.

“These offerings have been optimized to specific portfolios,” Vigil said. “For example, the SC4020 has lower scalability, but also a lower sales price, and is aimed at smaller deployments. We think we have the right coverage with the four models we have now.”

The new SC400 and SC420 enclosures have (12) 3.5” drive slots and (24) 2.5” drive slots respectively, along with a 12Gb SAS back-end.

Dell also announced Dell Storage Center 6.7 array software, the operating system for the SC series.

New capabilities include enhanced Live Volume auto-failover for built-in disaster recovery with zero workload downtime.

“We had Live Volume before, but it was the user doing it,” Vigil said. Now, no user intervention is needed for the failover.

“One of the big lifts to getting to this point is the sync Live Volume feature, where volumes are 100 per cent in sync on separate arrays,” he added. “In the future, this will be even more automated, and allow you to scale out as well.”

With 6.7, data-at-rest encryption is now available on flash.

“We had self-encrypting drives for HDDs before, but this is the first time for flash,” Vigil said. “It’s importance for compliance.”

Other software improvements include enhanced compression, which now saves up to 93.65 per cent flash capacity (on SQL), Dell says capacity reduction will also save up to 53.47 per cent on VMware, 40.93 per cent on ESXi Virtual Machines, and 39.85 per cent on Hyper-V. 6.7 also features integrated host-side data protection for Oracle, Microsoft and VMware environments.

The Dell Storage SC9000, Dell Storage Center 6.7 and Dell Storage SC400 and SC420 enclosures are available now.