Dell launches its first all-flash object storage appliance

Object storage is no longer 'slow, cheap, and deep,' according to Dell, which positions its new EXF900 array for AI and cloud-native use.

Data center corridor of servers with abstract overlay of digital connections.
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Dell Technologies has introduced its first all-flash object storage appliance, saying the perception that object file storage is "slow, cheap and deep" is changing as the massive growth of unstructured data makes enterprises more inclined to use high-performance storage for object-based applications.

The company is adding a new appliance, called the EXF900, to the Dell EMC ECS EX-Series lineup. It claims the EXF900 has the highest performance of the ECS range of appliances, but that's because the rest of the lineup – the low-end EX300, the mid-range EX500 and high-end EX3000 arrays – are all disk based.

The EX900 uses NVMe SSDs and a PowerEdge server to drive them, and ECS software supports NVMe-over-fabric (NVMe-oF) to access its back-end network. The result is a 21x performance improvement over the EX300 and 19x more transactions per second.

"Organizations are realizing the advantages object offers – scalability, flexibility, API-driven cloud-native architectures – when combined with high performance all-flash media, can support their most data-hungry workloads. The object storage market is primed for a revolution," said Tony Yakovich, ECS product marketing manager, in a blog post announcing the new line.

The hardware, while nice, is hardly new or original. Cloudian, NetApp, and Pure Storage all offer all-flash arrays. What makes the EXF900 special is the update to the ECS software. With ECS 3.6, Dell introduced a number of changes and new features:

  • Object cloning: This new feature enables high-speed object cloning and fan-out writes by implementing a fan-out API specification. Essentially, ECS enables a single request to write or copy thousands of private copies on the backend, reducing client-side processing, server-side processing and network load. This capability is ideal for media and entertainment workloads such as Cloud DVR, according to Dell.
  • Security admin role: New to ECS 3.6 is a way for organizations to grant specific usage rights and privileges to security administrators to better protect data. This feature integrates with existing Active Directory/LDAP permissions for easy adoption and implementation.
  • Security API: ECS version 3.6 adds a new API to automate the reporting of system security settings. This API is aimed at making it simple to integrate ECS with existing monitoring and data protection solutions for improved security.

The EXF900 will also support a new Dell project in the software-defined object storage space. ObjectScale, currently in beta, is new scale-out object storage software built to take advantage of Kubernetes' native deployment automation, scaling and management capabilities.

Dell claims ObjectScale will empower organizations to deploy the software on their platform of choice alongside the full spectrum of ECS appliances, making ObjectScale an option for edge environments in addition to the traditional data center. Dell has not yet set a release date.

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