Dell EMC targets NetApp with new all-flash SC Series storage arrays

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Dell EMC targets NetApp with new all-flash SC Series storage arrays

Dell EMC is taking direct aim at NetApp with new all-flash versions of its midrange Compellent SC series storage products, and a new loyalty program one executive calls a storage market "game-changer."

The company overnight launched two new all-flash SC block storage arrays as part of a series of additions to its midrange portfolio, including all-inclusive software packages for the SC series, efficiency improvements to the Unity line and the "Future-Proof Storage Loyalty Program".

Sam Grocott, senior vice president of storage marketing at Dell EMC, said the day is coming when midmarket customers would broadly demand all-flash storage offerings, and the new loyalty program is a critical element of the strategy for the company's partners.

"We need [partners] to understand how to position the Future Proof Storage Loyalty Program," Grocott said. "It is a game-changer. Typically we sit back and wait for a technology, or features, but we need them to understand how to lead with the Future-Proof Storage Loyalty Program. It's as important as a whiz-bang new feature. It allows them to compete more strongly, win more customers and provide value to end users."

The loyalty program gives customers a three-year, money-back guarantee; a storage efficiency guarantee; seamless data migrations; trade-in credits toward new Dell EMC storage products; credits toward storage controller upgrades; and a 10 percent allocation and one year of built-in Virtustream Storage Cloud on Unity all-flash products.

Graham Holt, Dell EMC Australia and New Zealand general manager for primary storage said the new products and loyalty program would alleviate midmarket businesses' struggle to gain investment to deliver digital transformation programs.

"With the introduction of the three-year money-back guarantee and the efficiency guarantee, we are able to provide business leaders with peace of mind that the investment they have made in modernising their data centres is a sound one," he said.

"All-inclusive software options and a hardware investment protection plan, gives our customers unparalleled, market-leading value. We will continue to bring enterprise-grade solutions to the mid-market to help drive digital transformation outcomes for our customers.”  

The loyalty program, Grocott said, was created based on feedback from Dell EMC partners.

"This is a partner-first program," Grocott said. "When they looked at how they compete in the marketplace, we did not have a program like this, so the excitement about how this is going to help them accelerate their velocity and wins in the marketplace is shared by the direct team and the partner team. It is clear that customers are looking for investment protection in that what they buy today protects them for what they need tomorrow."

The Dell EMC SC5020F and SC7020F are the first all-flash models in the SC line. The models are self-optimizing and come pre-loaded with all the software needed to operate them. Pricing for the 3U, Intel Xeon-powered appliances starts at about 50 US cents per GB, and they're intended to fill a gap in the SC portfolio and take on all-flash storage powerhouse NetApp in the midmarket, Grocott said.

"NetApp has an a la carte model," Grocott said. "Depending on what you want to get out of the system from a packaging standpoint, it's a bit of a nickel-and-dime approach. We're including all of that value in the price point."

The SC All-Flash products have a technical advantage, too, Grocott said, in that multiple arrays can be clustered together. "One of the big value propositions of the SC series, whether it's hybrid or all-flash, is the ability to federate or cluster together multiple arrays into a single system," he said.

"Comparing a single SC all-flash to a single NetApp all-flash, it's going to be very comparable in terms of performance, capacity, features, function. When you factor in federation, the ability to scale out an SC environment to 10 arrays in a single federated cluster, that's where you get the benefit of aggregated performance and capacity."

A single SC all-flash array, Dell EMC's Grocott said, can scale from 400,000 IOPs and up to 3PB of capacity to 4 million IOPs in a 10-node system, and 30PB of capacity.

Still, Dell EMC has to contend with the fact that its all-flash efforts have focused on the high end of the market with its VMAX, XtremIO and Isilon lines while leaving the midrange open for competitors like NetApp.

Dell EMC estimates that midrange storage represents a US$14 billion market and that it's growing at about 6 percent annually, Grocott said, adding that a wide swath of Dell EMC partners are equipped to attack that market, especially when using the new loyalty program as a weapon.

The SC all-flash line are "Category A" products within Dell EMC's partner program. Including base rebates and new business incentives, Category A products can earn partners rebates of nearly 20 percent.

Dell EMC also said it was offering free software upgrades for Unity customers, including inline data deduplication, synchronous file replication and the ability to perform online "data-in-place" storage controller upgrades.

The Unity upgrades and new SC All-Flash models are designed to position Dell EMC for growth in midrange market as all-flash takes hold in that segment, Grocott said.

"The adoption of flash in the high end has taken off like a rocket ship," Grocott said. "The midrange is now starting that shift as well. It's only a matter of time, whether it's three years from now or five years from now, where it's all-flash all the time, and that's started in the midrange as well. Customers are expecting an all-flash experience going forward."

This article originally appeared at

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