Dell adds SC4020 as it edges towards iSCSI-FC unification

Dell ditches separate Compellent and EqualLogic branding with the debut of the Dell Storage SC4020 midrange SAN

Dell has announced a new storage array – the Dell SC4020 – which combines iSCSI and Fibre Channel block access in a mid-range SAN.

The SC4020 (pictured) marks a step in Dell's plan to combine its Compellent Fibre Channel arrays and EqualLogic iSCSI boxes.

But at this stage, no rewriting of the operating system (OS) has taken place to accommodate both protocols in a single controller.

Instead, like the existing enterprise SAN, the SC8000, the SC4020 uses the Compellent Storage Center controller OS, with iSCSI functionality taken care of in the network card, according to Dell's EMEA storage marketing director, Robin Kuepers.

“We have our own EqualLogic iSCSI stack and on the SC4020 that sits in the NIC driver set,” he said. “It is not hard-coded into Storage Center 6.5.”

The 2U SC4020 has a base unit capacity of 24 drives and is aimed at “the mid-tier space”, said Kuepers. It slots into the range below the SC8000.

The Intel Ivy Bridge-powered SC4020 can accommodate 24 drives of any mix from SAS spinning disk (7,200, 10,000 and 15,000rpm) and MLC or SLC flash.

Up to two 24-drive expansion units can be added for a maximum capacity (using the highest-capacity drives) of about 500TB.

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The SC4020 can be configured as an all-flash array, but without controller hardware and software optimised for flash, this tops out at a performance of about 120,000 IOPS and latency of “less than a millisecond”.

This does not compare well with flash arrays designed as such, so for extremely high performance, Dell recommends adding its Fluid Cache PCIe server flash.

Dell wants the SC4020 to mark a move away from separate Compellent and EqualLogic branding for the company, with only the Dell and SC prefix being used.

“It’s the starting point of that process,” said Kuepers.

Meanwhile, Dell has also signalled its intent to offer Nutanix converged storage in PowerEdge servers and branded as Dell XC appliances.

Nutanix combines compute and storage resources to provide a scalable “virtual server farm” without the need for individual server and storage arrays. In this arrangement, Nutanix software will reside on Dell hardware, which will be offered in three configurations – entry-, mid- and high-level – to provide a range of performance and capacity options.

The SC4020 will be available in the third quarter of 2014 and the XC Series in the fourth quarter.

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