Compellent Storage Center 4.0: Fully-integrated, full-featured 4Gbps Fibre Channel system

Compellent's Storage Center 4.0 offers ease of use, a great feature set, and excellent performance at a good price for a 4Gbps Fibre Channel system. Support and phone-home maintenance is also excellent.

The system we tested included a storage controller and two shelves of drives, one with 16 300GB 15,000 RPM drives, and one with eight (out of 16 capacity) 500GB SATA drives, for a total usable capacity of just over 8.5TB.

All three boxes included dual controllers and dual power supplies for a fully redundant system. The system included all software options – server instant replay (snapshots), dynamic capacity (thin provisioning), data progression (automatic migration of data to lower tiers), synchronous and asynchronous replication. The price of $68,709 is the highest in this test, but not high for what you get – 4Gbps Fibre Channel support, excellent iSCSI support, high performance, great usability and excellent features.

Once we took the system out of the box and mounted it in the rack, it was a snap to set up and begin configuring storage. Wizards and a great interface make it easy to find servers on the SAN, configure volumes and associate them with a given server.

Everything is available from a selection of choices – you never have to look up a name on a switch or server and manually enter it. Even usually difficult tasks, like setting up remote replication, are easy – a matter of a few clicks to find a volume on a remote system and designate it as the mirror to a local volume.

While we did not compare performance between products, since comparing 1Gbps iSCSI to 4Gbps Fibre Channel isn't really fair, performance of the Storage Center was excellent. The other kind of performance, real-world "it just works" performance, was also great – everything worked first time out, and as expected.

With the ability to add multiple shelves of drives to a single controller, and control multiple controllers through a single administrative interface, the Storage Center can easily grow in both capacity and performance to extremely high levels. You can also get a system with basic functionality at a reasonable price and add the software features as needed.

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