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By | Chris Mellor 13th October 2009 11:36

Savvis picks Compellent for public cloud service

Spirited automatic data progression

Savvis has picked Compellent to be its cloud storage supplier in the Spirit project to develop a virtual private data centre public cloud service. Compellent beat other vendors because its automated data movement made its storage more cost-effective and cheaper to manage.

Savvis, an $850m a year revenue managed services supplier, said it was heading cloudwards in September with its Project Spirit, named after aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis flight from St Louis which presaged the commercial aviation industry, and where Savvis has its headquarters. The idea is to offer virtual private data centres (VPDC) from a shared infrastructure based on Savvis' 28 data centres around the globe and accessed through cloud interfaces.

Account-holding customers will access VPDC resources as and when they need them, through a pay-for-use model with virtually instant provisioning, scaling up and down of resources on demand, and de-provisioning, allied with selectable quality of service. Key components were Cisco's Nexus 5000 and 7000 networking switches and VMware vSphere v4.0 as the front-end virtualisation layer.

The server hardware is understood to be HP, although it's easy for Savvis to switch to another X86 box shipper. The storage component was left undefined at that time.

Now it has been revealed that Compellent's small/medium business (SMB) SAN storage arrays have been picked over existing Savvis supplier 3PAR and VMware's parent EMC with its Atmos cloud storage technology. This is surprising as Compellent is not classed as an enterprise storage supplier, yet it has been chosen for an infrastructure that's going to require some enterprise attributes such as scale, manageability and integration with virtualised servers.

Compellent arrays track block-level activity and automatically move data blocks across tiers of storage, from fast and expensive solid state drives (SSD) to slower and capacious SATA hard disk drives across intervening faster but lesser capacity HDDs. This means that expensive SSD is used to optimum effect without placing excess data there, and that data movement does not need manual intervention.

Savvis chief technology officer Bryan Doerr said: "Compellent will help us drive down the cost of lifecycle storage while preserving application performance for our customers' applications.”

Todd Loeppke, the technical VP of storage architecture in Doerr's office, added: "It allows us to take cost out of storage... (We) write data to the right tier for performance reasons and then it will waterfall down the tiers as it ages." Doing it at the LUN or sub-LUN level "is not granular enough".

The beta test of Project Spirit will start before the end of the year with various levels of VPDC service.

3PAR is still a Savvis supplier, with Loeppke saying it is "still the storage behind our dedicated cloud and open cloud [offerings], but in Project Spirit we needed to drive out cost more and offer different qualities of service". It has automated block-level movement, Adaptive Provisioning, under development but this is not yet in beta.

Other than LUN masking Compellent doesn't have multi-tenancy features, the ability to treat groups of users as an entity belonging to a particular Savvis customer (tenant) and provide particular qualities of service to them, such as data access performance, business continuity, protection and security. HDS is adding this to its content storage platform, and HP is adding it to its EVA product. But multi-tenancy is not yet needed by Savvis in its storage VPDC component and cost is king.

Why did Savvis choose Compellent? Cost to buy and cost to run - it's that simple. ®

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