Dell EMC SC Series Review

Gives you the flexibility of spinning disk, flash, or a combination, while auto-tiering keeps hot data up on your fastest Tier 1

How has it helped my organization?

It's easy to expand. Back in the day, if you wanted to expand, you would have to buy a block of disk from somebody or a new shelf. Here, if you have open spots, you buy some more disk and you expand.

What is most valuable?

What I really like, from the model line starting with the 3000 all the way up, is the flexibility. You can have spinning disk, you can have flash, you can have a combination. 

Another valuable feature is the performance of the auto-tiering. It will move hot data up to your fastest Tier 1 or move your slow data down. Data progression is what it's called. With the auto-tiering you can have multiple tiers, you can have your Tier 1 be either spinning or flash, all the way down to 7.2K. It will change the RAID on the fly so your writes come in at RAID 10. After they sit for a while, they get converted to RAID 5, then they'll cool off and move down the tiers. Your performance is kept going, while the cold data is moved to your slow, non-performance tiers.

With federation, you can have multiple systems across sites. You can treat them as one, and with a live migration, volumes don't go down. You can move them from site to site, doing maintenance, and keep your environment up.

They already integrate with Dell Storage Manager, so you can manage multiple, you can set up replication, you've got monitoring, vSphere, Hyper-V.

What needs improvement?

Going into the unit itself, to manage, takes a little more intuition. But when you integrate it into the Dell Storage Manager it gives a much more GUI, user-friendly area to manage, provision volumes, etc.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable, especially with federation. If you outgrow the number of spindles that a unit can support, depending on the model, you can go into federation.

How is customer service and technical support?

Copilot support is next to none. I've dealt with a lot of support before. With Copilot, you're usually on the phone if you have a problem. Even as a customer, not a partner, if you have an issue or you're planning on upgrading code, you call Copilot, they do a system check, they give you the thumbs up. The support is very helfpul.

How was the initial setup?

The 3000 Series are user-installable but, as a certified installer, I have found that customers, if they're not used to the interface, like to come in and have a tutorial to see the interface and how it's done. Anything in 5000 Series and above requires a certified installer. You want to make sure that you get your networking and zoning set up properly; and to get a walk-through on setting up the environment and for getting used to it.

It does not have a steep learning curve. Especially in the SMB, the front-end is not hard. You set up the Storage Manager, it gives you the dashboard and tells you when you're over-provisioned, and shows performance and the like.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's very affordable. Anything from an SMB on up to the large enterprise - from a 3000 Series all the way up to a 9000 Series - with federation and you name it.

What other advice do I have?

You should definitely have a partner come in. If you're going to do a multi-tier environment, look at your IOPS: What are your hot IOPS, what's your total storage need? You need to plan out those different tiers because that's where it saves you money. You don't have to go all-flash if you don't need it. You only need to be able to deliver your performance and most places have tons of cold data that they aren't aware of. So, having someone come in and do an assessment of your current storage environment and see what performance you really do need - what you're getting now and what your projected growth will be - is important, so that a system can be properly sized. That should be a pre-sales process. Your engineer should understand Compellent and be able to size it properly.

I just deployed a 3000 Series in a small VDI environment and, during a bunch of huge data copies, I was seeing 15,000 IOPS at less than about 7 or 8 milliseconds of latency and that was on 10K disk. I was really impressed with that.

The most important factor when looking at a vendor is, are they there to sell you a box or are they there to help you? Are they there for the long term?

From my dealings with it, it's right up there at ten out of ten. Obviously, there are more expensive systems out there but, for all the deployments that I've seen or done, its been a rock solid platform.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.

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