Dell Storage SCOS 7 - A Future Ready Architecture

Today Dell have announced the latest release of their Dell Storage Operating System (SCOS) version 7. This is the most feature rich software release Dell have had for some time and this post will look at some of the key features soon to be available free of charge for customers who have an active support contract.

Over the last couple of years Dell have released several new arrays to the market from the SC series (Compellent) allowing a great deal of flexibility when choosing the best storage solution for your business. Not forgetting the PS series (EqualLogic) arrays product line which has had significant updates in this time bringing new 10Gb capabilities and hybrid arrays to the market. Up until now these products had their own management tools and were treated as separate entities. With the release of SCOS7 this is all about to change.


Deduplication and Compression Enhancements

SCOS7 will now offer deduplication to further increase the efficiency of the array. Dell have engineered the deduplication with patented methods designed to maximise performance. One key feature is the software targets the “right data” within each volume for deduplication and there is zero impact on write performance. Deduplication can be applied to SSD tiers, HDD tiers or both using hybrid arrays.

Whilst compression has been available since 6.5 on the SC8000 arrays, and 6.6 for the SC4020 arrays the latest release brings further enhancements to the compression engine. Compression can be enabled on the lowest tier of storage and with hybrid arrays this is typically the capacity tier. All flash arrays can now benefit from compression maximising the investment.   

You have the option to enable deduplication with compression, or compression only and it is important to note this is configured on a per volume basis. As we all should be aware not all data is suitable for compression or deduplication.

Enhanced Flexibility: Live Migrate and Volume Advisor

Live migrate allows volumes to be migrated between different arrays with no downtime and no host remapping without affecting workloads. This allows the SC series to scale out to give additional performance and flexibility as your environment grows. In a federated cluster you can rebalance arrays using information presented to you by Volume Advisor where it makes recommendations on the best placement for each volume.

The best way to describe this is virtualisation of the LUN. As it is not tied to a particular set of disks, or a particular controller it can be moved between arrays seamlessly. This feature is available with the SC9000, SC8000 and SC4020 arrays and you can federate using like or unlike models. 

Quality of Service (QoS)

QoS allows us to set limits on resources such as IOPS, bandwidth and latency. This will help to eliminate issues such as the noisy neighbour problem where certain applications consume so much resource it affects other production workloads. One example could be the finance team running large reports or developers running tests resulting in the whole environment slowing down. This will be a thing of the past as with SCOS 7 you now have the ability to control on a per volume basis what resource it can consume.

You also get customised alerts and the scripting ability via REST. 

VVOLs support

If you are an EqualLogic customer, you will have had this feature for a while now but SCOS 7 brings VVOL support to SC arrays. In a nutshell VVOLs allow the array to pass storage capabilities up to vSphere where storage policies can be defined on a per virtual machines basis. This granularity allows the workload to get the exact services it requires from the storage layer at a virtual machine level. For example, your file server needs to be located on replicated storage, or your web server needs to be on SSD. 

Dell Storage Manager (DSM)

In my opinion this is the best part of the release – a brand new common management platform for both PS and SC arrays. More importantly this is a HTML5 based interface so at long last we can goodbye to Java. Dell Storage Manager with SCOS 7 adds bi-directional cross platform replication between SC and PS arrays to give us one Dell Storage Ecosystem. 

This is a strong message from Dell and I know this has been on their roadmap for a while. No longer do you have to stick with one technology as you can have both and manage them using a single interface. Perhaps you use PS array in both production and DR as you rely on array based replication for SRM. At the next hardware refresh you can transition to an SC array whilst maintaining array based replication to PS arrays at DR. This will unlock storage capabilities such as deduplication, compression and data progression at the production site whilst maximising the investment already made in PS arrays by running them for DR.

To sum up Dell have invested heavily into this release and it’s great to see replication between SC and PS arrays is now possible. I’ll be upgrading our demo arrays over the coming weeks and publishing further content around this release along with PS firmware v9 so make sure you stay tuned.

If you would like to know more about the SCOS 7 or discuss any of the new features in further detail, then please get in touch.