Yes! Compellent has just announced at Storage Networking World that they’ll be adding enterprise solid state drives (SSDs) to their excellent fully-virtualized storage arrays. Why is this worth shouting about? Simply because their automated block-based tiered storage architecture ought to be able to really take full advantage of the performance offered by SSDs. If you’ll pardon the pun, SSD in a Compellent array is positively compelling!
Let’s take a second to review: EMC became the first modern storage vendor to include NAND flash-based solid state drives as a standard tier of storage in an enterprise storage product when they announced flash in the Symmetrix DMX in January. Although every other vendor has made “me too” comments since then, enterprise flash remains pretty rare. Could Compellent really be the second major vendor to actually do something, coming along 10 months later?
More than a year ago, I rhetorically asked where the enterprise solid state drives were. In that post, and others that followed, I suggested that SSD wouldn’t really “work” as a mainstream tier unless a storage array was smart enough to dynamically allocate content to this “tier-0” in a granular fashion. In other words, adding a big lump of flash to a static storage array and trying to manually allocate it on a LUN-by-LUN basis to hot applications is not likely to meet anyone’s cost/benefit sniff test!
But if a post-RAID storage system was smart, it could really make use of the technology, and that’s what makes Compellent’s announcement so interesting. They dynamically move blocks (rather than the much-bigger LUNs) around, and could thus make a smaller amount of flash go a lot further. Add a few flash drives and let the system tune itself! This is a big differentiator, folks!
Of course, this is not just Compellent’s advantage. Any fully-virtualized system could do the same, and we’ve heard such talk from folks as diverse as HP (I’d love to see it in both EVA and LeftHand), IBM (for real in SVC, not the science experiment), Sun (combined with ZFS), Dell/EqualLogic, and I’d love to hear it from 3PAR. Bring it on, folks! Listen to Greg! Let’s get this technology integrated, tested, released, and in the field!