Why Dell EMC SC4020 storage is compelling (but not Compellent)

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Published 17-Feb-2017 08:34:41
Why Dell EMC SC4020 storage is compelling (but not Compellent)
 

For mid-market storage the Dell SC4020 was already hard to beat. With EMC on board it's even better.

New EMC software for Dell storage

Dell’s 2016 acquisition of EMC was the largest technology merger in historyThe move instantly made the combined organisation the dominant player in enterprise storage systems, with over 30 per cent of the market.

 Obviously there was an immediate challenge to integrate and rationalise the product portfolios of the two businesses, but this had to be achieved in a way that would not alienate existing Dell or EMC customers. In this respect, the decision to concentrate initially on a common software experience was a stroke of genius.

Dell EMC quickly announced it had boosted the capabilities of its mid-market Dell SC series storage arrays by extending key EMC software capabilities to include them. This has enabled a ‘mix and match’ approach across the entire Dell EMC portfolio, providing a common user experience with the same storage management, data protection and mobility capabilities regardless of platform.

SC series customers also stand to gain from access to EMC’s data protection technologies, designed to safeguard business-critical data and applications from outages. These also enable customers to visualise performance and capacity, analyse configurations for compliance, and plan for expected growth.

In practice, this appears to extend the capability of the enterprise-level Compellent software included with the SC4020 since its launch in 2014. In fact, it seems the Compellent name is being retired altogether.

If operating in a hybrid Dell/EMC environment is important to you, these developments are great news. But if you’re quite happy with the mid-tier SC series as it is, it’s reassuring to know the product line remains a key part of Dell EMC’s strategy and that it’s going to continue to receive focus and investment.

Mid-market all-in-one array

All this suggests the SC4020 has become an even more attractive package than ever. What’s so special about it?

The SC4020 is a 2U, 24-drive storage area network (SAN) array, already widely deployed by Vohkus customers. Its automated data placement and data efficiency features provide blistering performance at a very advantageous price, and the range includes all-flash, hybrid and disk-only configurations.

Dell EMC claims that the SC4020’s customer base shows distinct areas of strength where Dell is the server vendor, which doesn’t surprise us. Much of the work we’ve done with SC4020 arrays has been alongside Dell’s PowerEdge FX converged modular architecture. Let’s look at one example to see why the customer chose this particular configuration.

SC4020 in action

The customer in question was struggling with its point-of-sale solution and wanted to upgrade to the most recent version of Microsoft Dynamics (which its current systems couldn’t support). As the UK arm of a multinational, it took advice from its US parent about how to achieve the best possible infrastructure for its budget, and Dell came into the frame.

We put a chief technical architect, specialist pre-sales consultant and technical lead on the case to guide the customer through the options. In the end the customer selected PowerEdge FX blades because they were easy to manage and scale, and complemented this with SC4020 all-flash arrays.

With Vohkus’s solution design and Dell’s advantageous commercial terms – including its distinctive perpetual licensing model (whereby licences can be repurposed in three years) – the customer realised that with the SC4020 it could not only achieve massive cost savings, but also extend its specification to replicate the solution as a separate, offsite disaster recovery (DR) facility within the project’s original budget.

We’re pleased – but not surprised – that the customer is absolutely delighted with the performance and ROI.

‘Striking fear into competitors’

Few would query the price/performance benefits and high specification of the SC4020. One detailed performance review claimed it would “strike fear in the purveyors of $200,000+ enterprise storage arrays with only modest performance advantages over the SC4020.”

At the time that was written could the reviewer have been referring to EMC? Quite possibly. But the SC4020 is really a very different beast. It’s taken its place alongside an exceptionally strong line-up of storage products from the combined Dell EMC business. And it’s trusted too – it’s estimated that over 92 per cent of SC units ever shipped are still in use, thanks in part to perpetual licensing.

The bottom line is that you probably won’t be able to appreciate the SC4020 until you’re actually using it. In our case study above, the project was driven by a need to fix point-of sale problems, not to buy the cheapest storage. So make your business need your starting point.

When you’re trying to use technology to fix a business problem it’s worth asking our consultants to explain and demonstrate the options to you. You might be surprised how much you can save and how effectively you can transform your IT infrastructure with the combined might of Dell and EMC.

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