My New Compellent Review4U
August 02, 2016
My New Compellent Review4U
Score 7 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Compellent
Our organization was merging technical teams and assets and we faced a need to consolidate our data storage solution onto a single platform for ease of management. We had storage arrays from EMC and Hitachi presently but both were aging and we needed a cost-effective solution that would provide ROI in terms of letting us get the most usefulness out of our purchased storage.
- Dell Compellent support (Co-Pilot) and the add-on service (Optimize) are critical services that Dell Compellent does very well. Alerts from the array are sent to Co-Pilot where tickets are automatically generated and customers are notified of events. Of greater importance at times is the proactive support Co-Pilot and Optimize provide by contacting us of inefficiencies in the array and consulting on resolutions.
- Enterprise Manager (Dell's "single pane of glass" management framework) is a useful tool for configuration/evaluation of the array and other Compellent products.
- Ease of management. From firmware upgrades to managing server volumes the process is much simpler than with other arrays.
- The Dell Compellent model is migrating away from the WebGUI in future controller firmware versions and is focusing solely on their Enterprise Manger product (soon to be Dell Storage Manager) for managing all of their products (arrays and NAS devices). I personally like to have multiple vectors of access, or have the option to enable these if needed. Since the Enterprise Manager product relies on a separate in-house server, this presents a unique single point of failure in the event of an outage unless other highly available precautions are taken.
- Since this review concerns Compellent as a whole, I would like to mention the Compellent NAS solution: FS8600. This is a product that I believe was acquired and customized into the FluidFS architecture as an after-thought. We have a 4-node FS cluster and have not been satisfied with the product's ability to handle SMB connections (very low for an "enterprise" product like this). We feel as if we are in a constant state of debugging the software for whatever current release we find ourselves in. Firmware upgrades have not been an issue, however Compellent support is not equipped to handle calls from FS8600 users as there is generally much shuffling and transferring of the call (it seems as if there are a limited number of qualified technicians to service this product).
- The add-on service "Optimize" is a great resource for Compellent knowledge and proactive notifications and Co-Pilot support is great for any issues that arise. The only issue with these services is that, with the way the system is engineered, the services are almost mandatory as without them you would have no way of knowing how inefficient your RAID stripping was at any given time and even if you did there would be no way for you to fix it. As a customer you have the Enterprise Manager product and a set of Powershell cmdlets at your disposal, but the complete suite of support tools only resides with support, therefore you are required to not only purchase support (which should be done regardless), but if you have a large array and a very busy environment it is a good idea to purchase the Optimize service as well. They are a benefit to the customer, but they are because they have been designed that way as quid pro quo back to Dell.
- The ease of management has allowed our entire team to take advantage of storage tasks that may have only once been relegated to a dedicated storage administrator. This allows for segregation of duties for a better security posture and faster deployment of storage to projects.
- We have had several "work stoppage" events from software bugs encountered from the FS8600. In one case having to implement daily workarounds via separate devices to keep the cluster running properly for almost a year until the developers put the proper version "fix" into place. These issues have never been related to the underlying Compellent storage array connections and have always been seated in the NAS firmware itself. The organizational impact of these events has been extremely negative.
Previous products used have been EMC & Hitachi arrays and NAS products. Dell Compellent is outstanding in its storage array operation and support. It's user interface is much more intuitive and use of RAID technologies appears to "get the most" out of the storage purchased. They only seem to falter on their NAS services where other vendors have had a much longer presence and have devices much more stable.
Dell Compellent has a decent portfolio of products for varying sizes of business. Their licensing model is suited for those not wanting total a la carte fare, and administration is intuitive as compared to other storage arrays. This combined with Co-Pilot support gives Dell a good presence in a vast number of scenarios where networked storage is required over a DAS solution. It's only fallback is its own NAS solution, which itself may be better suited to smaller environments.