Dell EMC SC Series Overview

Dell EMC SC Series is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Frame-Based Disk Arrays. It is most often compared to Dell EMC Unity XT: Dell EMC SC Series vs Dell EMC Unity XT

What is Dell EMC SC Series?

Dell EMC SC Series arrays provide a unified platform for the ultimate in performance, adaptability and machine-driven efficiency. SC Series software delivers modern features that help you meet aggressive workload demands using the fewest drives necessary. With an open, future-ready design, SC Series storage integrates seamlessly with applications and infrastructure, enabling you to scale on a single platform and add capabilities without forklift upgrades.

Dell EMC SC Series is also known as SC Series Storage, Compellent.

Dell EMC SC Series Buyer's Guide

Download the Dell EMC SC Series Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2021

Dell EMC SC Series Customers

TGen, Frost Science, Gerrie Electric

Dell EMC SC Series Video

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RW
Senior IT Infrastructure Manager at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Helped us consolidate siloed storage, but there were disk failures

What is our primary use case?

We are heavily virtualized and it is used for the storage. It's performing well, we have had no issues to date.

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the ability to replicate. We are running a financial company and it needs to be available 24/7. We can't afford any downtime."

    What other advice do I have?

    If you don't have a SAN infrastructure, this is a great one, a great entry-level SAN to start with. We are actually moving on to a vSAN. Within the next two months, we won't be using the SC Series anymore and will be migrating away from it to a vSAN. There were no problems with the SC Series, we just wanted to implement a hyperconverged system. The SC Series performed the functions we needed it to perform.
    Darren Norfleet
    Storage Team Leader at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Works in high-performance environments like Oracle and SQL, but needs more functionality

    What is our primary use case?

    We're starting our ScaleIO implementation. We have vSAN but we also have software-defined. Our primary goal is to reduce our infrastructure costs by having another offering out there, outside of the traditional SAN storage environment.

    What other advice do I have?

    Start slowly. Generally, initially, you'll get pushback because people are used to traditional storage. Start with what we call low-hanging fruit. For example, we put our test environment on it. Once people become comfortable with it, see that it performs well, then they'll start looking for it for the higher-tier environments. We're using VMware and it's particularly easy, you just provision the storage. But when it's a physical environment and you're trying to go to that environment you have to have a migration, usually a whole space migration. We try to get away from that because it's…
    Learn what your peers think about Dell EMC SC Series. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2021.
    511,521 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    JS
    Infrastructure Engineer at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    "Downright easy" to manage, and support has saved us a lot of time

    What is our primary use case?

    What we are using from Dell EMC is their server line and their storage line. We're pretty well embedded with Dell EMC.

    Pros and Cons

      • "Licensing, especially on the storage line, could use some simplification. It's not terrible, but, for example, with the Isilon series, they've gone to completely a la carte. A la carte is very difficult to traverse, as to what you need. It would be more beneficial, at least from my point of view as a customer, if they did it more like car companies do, where there are package lines"

      What other advice do I have?

      I always recommend them. Regarding the purchasing process, we were working with a VAR and they helped loop us together with the sales engineers and usually, within a few hours of discussion, we were able to drill down on everything. We had a product solution figured out, and almost next-day. The most important criteria when selecting a product like this are the reliability of the equipment itself and the support. I rate the solution at nine out of ten. They've really got the customer service, especially in the support arenas, nailed. They make information-gathering on their solutions…
      JM
      Automation at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
      Real User
      Streamlines VM deployment but support needs improvement

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it for converged infrastructure.

      What other advice do I have?

      I rate the solution at seven out of ten. To be a ten it would need better support and better compatibility metrics across the firmware driver stack.
      RD
      Virtualization Manager at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
      Real User
      Built-in migration capabilities have been very helpful, compression and dedupe are good

      What is our primary use case?

      We use it as the OS drives for our VMs. Our is a hybrid solution.

      Pros and Cons

      • "It has good dedupe and compression. Also, the built-in data migration capabilities are pretty good, as is the federation. When we started migrating the workloads from different storage platforms, like NetApp and XtremeIO, it helped us in moving to that direction."

        What other advice do I have?

        Research is important. Understand the product. Just like any other technology you use, research is the most important part.
        BB
        Systems Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
        Real User
        The way everything is integrated makes it seem there is less hardware to keep up with

        What is our primary use case?

        We use it for VDI, mainly. In terms of performance, there were some difficulties to begin with, with a lot of different upgrades. It took a lot of time because we've got several of them. With all the upgrades done, it has run pretty smoothly. Right now, we've just got one particular system on it, where we're just trying to test the waters to figure out if it's good because we use a combination of Dell EMC and Cisco equipment. So far, the Dell EMC seems to be doing pretty well. There are some applications that we've run where it appears that the Dell EMC would be a better solution.

        Pros and Cons

          • "One option I would like to see is, when you're up on the view-screen, to be able to incorporate getting to what HPE call the iLO, the Integrated Lights-Out. To be able to get that instead of having to go back and trying to find IP addresses and re-institute those would be good. It would be good to be able to that put on the initial splash screen."

          What other advice do I have?

          I would consider Dell EMC to be one of the top options, by all means. I've liked HPE, but it seems that they are integrating with that, as far as VMware is concerned. The two that we're currently using are Cisco and Dell. They're the main two that we're bouncing back and forth with. At times the SC Series has been slow. Most of the time, we have found the problem is on the appliance side, not the hardware side. I rate the solution at eight out of ten. To get it to a ten it would need fewer upgrades and getting things right to begin with. That's really one of the core issues that we've had with…
          JD
          Systems Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
          Real User
          Gives us the replication, I/O, and uptime we need

          What is our primary use case?

          It's the storage backbone for our virtual environment. So far the performance has been very good.

          Pros and Cons

            • "I would like to see higher compression, dedupe, faster I/O, and bigger drives."

            What other advice do I have?

            Do your research, check out all the vendors, and get your hands on it as much as possible.
            AP
            Data Center Supervisor with 501-1,000 employees
            Real User
            Helped us to virtualize a lot of workloads while maintaining performance

            What is our primary use case?

            It back-ends our vSphere virtualization farms.

            Pros and Cons

            • "With auto-tiering, it's easier to understand than most arrays, knowing that all of your writes go to the tier that you specify, with easy-to-create storage profiles."
            • "I would like to see an integrated key manager in the controllers. Currently, it's an external product. It would be nice to have the option of having a built-in key for self-encrypting drive features."

            What other advice do I have?

            You have to do your preparation and research but that's no different than buying any SAN. Get to know your local Dell EMC pre-sales engineer quite a bit because they'll be able to help you properly size the unit. In our mixed workloads, we generally see sub-10ms latency on the product. I don't really have any stats for high-end IOPS because we are not really doing high-performance computing. We have mixed workloads and I'm more concerned with latency than IOPS. But the performance has been great. We have been very happy with it.
            Micheal Laggis
            Senior Solutions Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
            Real User
            Gives you the flexibility of spinning disk, flash, or a combination, while auto-tiering keeps hot data up on your fastest Tier 1

            Pros and Cons

            • "A 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."
            • "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."

              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…
              Don  Woodward
              Solutions Consultant at BlueAlly
              Reseller
              No-forklift upgrade means I can change out controllers, add shelves, storage, or SSD drives, while it's up and running

              What is our primary use case?

              It's primary storage. It started off as just being spinning disk, but recently we've had a lot of traction with customers adding flash and even going to all-flash systems. Some of our customers have had it six, seven, eight years. It performs quite well. We had a customer who had an Oracle all-flash system, and they needed to run VMs in their disaster recovery facility and, of course, they did not want to purchase the Oracle storage because it's extremely expensive. So, they added flash to their existing Compellent storage, they were using a DR for the other stuff. It has performed quite well… more »

              Pros and Cons

              • "The most valuable feature is the no-forklift upgrade. While the thing is running, I can change out the controllers one at a time and keep the customer up and running. I can add shelves and storage and SSD drives or spinning drives to the system, while it's running. I can bring all that in and rebalance the load across the new disks or, if we take disks away, rebalance the load across what's remaining, and it just works."
              • "There's some new stuff coming with 7.3, which just got released, where they're spreading the sparing across the whole array, rather than having a dedicated spare disk, and have it sit there and do nothing until one of them dies, and then it kicks in - and having to rebuild all of that. Now, they'll do the sparing across all the disks and they say that is going to add not only space but performance to the array, with 7.3."
              • "We can definitely see a need for it being a multi-controller system for customers who want to scale beyond the current capability. That's always a downside. A lot of the new systems are scaling vertically, they scale out, and the Compellent, of course, is controllers with shelves under it, so you don't scale out with it, unless you add another one. But if you do, they don't talk to each other, like some of the other solutions that we sell."

              What other advice do I have?

              The SC Series is not the thing for your mom and pop shop. It is an enterprise-grade, mid-tier business type solution. It depends on how much space you need. Some situations can be fine with the EqualLogic series, although that's going to go away and, perhaps, the lower-end Unity's will replace them. You have to look at all those factors. In terms of performance with mixed workloads, generally, the Compellent has been very good. If it's over the 20ms mark that's not good, but I have never seen any problems with that, in particular, when we've added flash. In terms of migrations, I haven't used…
              GR
              Senior Systems Engineer at a non-profit with 501-1,000 employees
              Real User
              Fast performance, secure and reliable - no downtime

              What is our primary use case?

              We use it for storage. The performance is great. So far there are no issues at all.

              What other advice do I have?

              It depends on your budget. What are the criteria you're looking for? And it depends on how much storage you're going to use and the cost associated with that. There a lot of solutions now, software-defined solutions, which are way cheaper, but everything has a price. It depends upon your usage. If you are going for virtualization, sure, go ahead and use it. Performance for a regular workload is pretty great, using 3000 IOPS and, during backup at night, it goes up to the 3000 IOPS as well. Overall, the underlying technology they are using is really great. That's the whole thing. It's how they…
              Nick Goodman
              Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
              Real User
              Performance and tiering capabilities have made it a success for our customers

              What is our primary use case?

              We use the SC platform for storage solutions. As a partner, it's usually one of our go-to products for mid-range customers.
              RM
              Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
              Real User
              We see improved performance with our mixed workloads and the dedupe is very effective

              What is our primary use case?

              We use it for our production loads and for whatever is running on all the production VMs, including our database and regular applications. In terms of performance, we have had issues once or twice, but apart from that, it has been amazing.

              Pros and Cons

              • "The most valuable features are the with back-end dedupe, and the thin nodes. For a 20TB or 60TB, we're using almost a one-to-two ratio."
              • "An issue we had was that the controller went down during an upgrade because of their upgrading the code. One side of the switch was down."
              • "In terms of additional features, I would like to see some kind of I/O meter, to indicate what we are using in terms of performance. I would like to see automation with that, where it would give me the trends. I want to know those things easily, to help me know where issues are going to occur."

              What other advice do I have?

              In terms of criteria when selecting a vendor, if there is an outage and we do not get proper support from their technical team when we call them, in such a scenario we are looking at their competitors sooner.
              RA
              Sr. Systems Administrator Manager at a manufacturing company with 5,001-10,000 employees
              Real User
              Gives us good performance, it's easy to scale and reliable

              What is our primary use case?

              We use it for storage. We have gotten really good performance out of it, fast IOPS. We don't use the hybrid solution, or the built-in data migration capabilities, protocols, or DIP inline upgrades.
              MH
              Virtualization Team Leader at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
              Real User
              Allows us to grow service on demand

              What is our primary use case?

              We use it for running all our business workloads.

              What other advice do I have?

              I rate it a nine out of ten. Nothing gets a ten.
              MS
              IT Manager at a non-tech company with 201-500 employees
              Real User
              It is easy to use, expand the hard drives, add storage, and set up replication

              What is our primary use case?

              We use Dell EMC storage at two data center sites for hosting vSphere server environments. Those server services are something that we offer internally in the company: SharePoint, GIS mapping services, license servers, and domain controllers. Pretty much everything is hosted on those servers or on the storage.

              Pros and Cons

              • "It is easy to use, expand the hard drives, add storage, and set up replication."
              • "I would like to have 100% functionality through the web app."

              What other advice do I have?

              Dell has a foot in the door. We buy their servers and have relationships with their account manager and reps. I'm content. Dell EMC has been through some changes over the past couple of years. When Dell merged with EMC, it was a bit rough, but they have great experts. That kept us in this realm because of their support and team. It is a great, mid-level introduction to storage. I would recommend it. We are happy with it.
              Todd Grimes
              IT Architect at Synoptek
              MSP
              We see very low latency with very high IOPS for mixed workloads

              What is our primary use case?

              We primarily use it to support our customers. We are a managed service provider. We have private and public clouds that we use it for. The performance over the years has been great. We like the platform and the upgrade features that it has. The biggest thing which we like is the support that we receive.

              Pros and Cons

              • "We replicate between SAN to SAN for a lot of features and supportability. It also helps us when we want to upgrade to a newer SC Series or move the data from one data center to another."
              • "Most valuable features have been the system customization with it, the performance you receive, and their CoPilot Support (or Dell EMC Storage Support)."
              • "Connecting it up, you can run it within a few hours."
              • "We see very low latency with very high IOPS for mixed workloads."
              • "We had times that we needed a file service solution. We've used FluidFS, but it's a solution that is being transitioned out."

              What other advice do I have?

              Look at the Compellent solution. It probably offers the most features: * Ease of use with their system. * Being able to configure it. * Connecting it up, you can run it within a few hours. Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * The support team behind it. * The stability of the system.
              RB
              Infrastructure Engineer at a leisure / travel company with 1-10 employees
              Real User
              It has been one of the most stable products in our data center

              What is our primary use case?

              We use it in our production and environmental support along with our VDI infrastructure.  It has been working to our expectations.

              What is most valuable?

              Compared to some of the hardware that we support, from an infrastructure operator standpoint, I never had any problems with the system.

              What needs improvement?

              We have seen some degraded throughput with mixed workloads. We have been working with Dell EMC to correct some of these latency issues.

              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

              It has been one of the most stable products in our data center.

              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

              We have not had to scale yet.

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

              We have found the solution to be…
              TP
              Managing Director at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
              Vendor
              Give us densification benefits: We're able to put more applications on the arrays because of how all-flash performs

              What is our primary use case?

              We're a large financial institution and we use them at our branch sites. They're definitely not enterprise-grade, but where we need to have an all-flash solution for applications, and a smaller footprint, that's where we use them. The performance has been excellent.

              Pros and Cons

              • "The performance benefits weren't surprising, we expected that. What we didn't expect were the densification benefits that we got out of going all-flash. We're able to put more applications on the arrays because of how all-flash performs. The way some of the application profiles have responded to all-flash has been really pleasing."
              • "Everything is sub-5 MS for us. What I've found is that, with all-flash, when an app from my business is slow, I pretty much know it's them and not me. It leads to a performance conversation that has really hit an interesting threshold point where we are better than what they need. So now we get to have that "refactoring your application" conversation a lot quicker because now the performance on the infrastructure side isn't in question anymore."
              • "Overall, I'd like to see more synergy between Dell EMC's higher-tier platforms and their mid-tier platforms. What I have said, constantly, to my partners at Dell EMC is that the clear articulation of the path is really important to us. In that vein, what I'd also like to see is, with the migration strategy that's built into this product, a lot more attention paid to Dell's - in particular - legacy platforms and how we get from some of our legacy EMC platforms onto this platform with a straight-through migration and scaling strategy, not host-based migrations and not piecemeal... Dell EMC would do well to focus more on my ability to skip a generation, rather than having me take individual hops because I can't greenfield my way into a software-defined data center fast enough. This journey of multiple hops is not helpful."

              What other advice do I have?

              Do your homework. Get in the lab. Figure out what it does and doesn't do. Figure out what's different. Understand your I/O profiles. Understand your applications. Think about how you want to best choose your app mix, when it comes to what's possible. Often, when people go all-flash for the first time, especially in the mid-range, they might be a little surprised at what's possible. Rack one up, fully populate it with disk, and really see what you can get out of it before you make assumptions around what you need and how your applications are going to behave. We have not used the built-in…
              David Winegar
              Network Admin at Jefferson County Washington
              Real User
              improves our speed, storage space, and recovery times

              What is our primary use case?

              We use it for storage for a virtual environment.

              Pros and Cons

              • "The most valuable feature is the speed for the end-user."
              • "The ease of use could be improved. It took me a while to learn it."

              What other advice do I have?

              We do not use the hybrid solution yet. I would rate the solution we are currently using at eight out of 10. Moving to the next performance level would make it a 10. And for this particular solution, the only thing I would like to see improved is the price.
              YM
              IT Manager at a pharma/biotech company with 5,001-10,000 employees
              Real User
              Phone Home support is very good, providing proactive troubleshooting

              What is our primary use case?

              It acts as our VM storage, and the performance is good.

              What other advice do I have?

              The first thing you need to know is what you need, what your requirements are. The second thing is how much of a budget there is. I rate Dell Compellent an eight out of 10. So far, we haven't faced any problems. Even during the upgrades, there have been no issues. In addition, support is very good.
              DH
              System Administrator at Reuter GmbH
              Real User
              It is fast and performs well

              What is our primary use case?

              It is performing well.

              Pros and Cons

              • "It is fast and performs well."
              • "The administration and support (on the way that they delivered) was a little bit slow."

              What other advice do I have?

              I would recommend to buy Dell EMC 3020 to anyone researching these type of solutions. Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * Reliability * Support: We knew the support from EMC was really good.
              it_user735222
              IT Manager
              Vendor
              You can create volumes and easily assign them to VMware clusters, increasing their size

              Pros and Cons

              • "Easy management of volumes: You can create volumes and easily assign them to VMware clusters, increasing their size."
              • "The process of reallocating data from fast disks (SSD or SAS) to slow disks (SATA) gives you better performance and better use of resources."
              • "Snapshots in VMware. You can’t do snapshots since the storage itself does that. Therefore, some apps (Veeam, for example) don’t work well with this kind of tiering storage."

              What other advice do I have?

              Document your needs, current storage, expansion, and timeframe for replays (snapshots). If you have backups or replications in place, make sure they work with Compellent Tiered Storage.
              ITCS user
              Implementation Unit at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
              Consultant
              Top 20
              Excellent unified storage solution for the enterprise.

              What other advice do I have?

              Definitely I would like to say to all others, if you want good unified storage solution with satisfactory level ROI just go with Compellent. It'll give you flexibility, good ROI and you can integrate your existing infrastructure without facing complexity, no matter what kind of infrastructure you have (FC, iSCSI or FCoE).