Frames DL2000 as first in intelligent storage line
Dell has said it is on the cusp of a new product category it refers to as Intelligent Data Management and which could change the economics of enterprise storage by reducing cost and complexity while making data available in ways that make sense throughout its lifecycle.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Darren Thomas, Dell’s global VP and general manager for enterprise storage said that the first of these IDM products is the PowerVault DL2000 integrated disk-based backup solution.
Thomas said that regulatory and compliance obligations continue to be “huge market drivers” with organisations facing situations where email can never be erased, IM sessions need to be stored and some customer records have to archived for years. “A product like Dell’s Disk Library 2000 brings a very high level of automation to these processes in ways that can reduce the cost of maintenance of data. It’s powered by CommVault software and will fully automate the backup of Exchange, it handles find and retrieve, and automates versioning control. We call it intelligent data management, and the DL2000 is a great example of an IDM product.”
“We are on the cusp of a new product category, and it is one we will continue to invest in,” Thomas added. Dell is apparently working to develop fully integrated and automated solutions that are simple to install and configure, and which meet some common customer needs in the areas of data protection and recovery, legal and regulatory compliance, disaster recovery and site recovery, and long-term data retention.
Thomas said the company’s nine-year relationship with EMC stands it in good stead to deal with new market demands. “The storage market landscape is changing quite a bit,” he explained. Asset retention has become a key issue, with organisations needing to keep hold of certain items in their server and storage estates longer than they would like.
The industry has made some massive steps in regard to cost and feature set improvements, and the cost of manufacturing is being compressed all the time, Thomas explained. “The cadence of Dell’s engineering process is actually very high, which also helps.” Dell works in an 18 month window to have new product systems ready for launch, a cycle he claimed is much shorter than others in the market.
“One outcome is that by the time a customer’s warranty comes up for renewal we can often be in a position to be able to buy back the existing equipment and dispose of that, and put in new product at a cost that is less than the cost of the warranty renewal.”
Other aspects of product development can also help IT shops in their bid for investment protection. Some of Dell’s iSCSI storage lines are easily upgraded to faster interconnect options simply by swapping out a front-end module. For users of some existing products, this opens a door to faster next-generation iSCSI arrays and the advantages of the 10Gb protocol options due later this year, he noted. The 10Gb protocol is being pushed as having superior capabilities for virtualisation and should help popularise next generation iSCSI.
Advances in storage systems management software are also helping IT shops do more with less. “All Dell servers come with lifecycle management tools built in which allow for boxes to be serviced remotely.”
Systems management software is provided by Altiris for server control, while EMC’s Navisphere system is used to discover, monitor, configure, and report on storage arrays, he explained.
“The ability to push live updates and remotely address many servers in groups or classes is another way to exert downward pressure on the cost of ownership of storage assets. As a service organisation, Dell has many tens of thousands of notebook and PC devices under management and we can do the same for storage units.”
He noted the acquisition last year of UK data storage consultancy, the Networked Storage Company and its Point of Proof method. This approach is primarily implemented with storage networks, but can be extended across the IT infrastructure to examine the overall costs and complexity of an organisation’s systems maintenance and management procedures.
He said it is a good way for businesses to audit the effectiveness of their storage architectures and compare their capability against peer group organisations.
Thomas believes storage consolidation still factors as a big issue in the storage landscape. “It is still the best option. Centralisation saves money. It also makes it easier to deploy software tools to automate backup and recovery, data tiering and such like.”
The Dell GM pointed out the other big source of market demand. “With the push towards virtualisation comes a move from direct attached storage to network attached storage and the storage area network. With every decision to virtualise, there comes with it a decision to move to SAN. That’s a big change, and it’s become more and more popular among the small and medium sized enterprise.”