Optimizing Storage Infrastructure: Key Strategies for Dell Compellent

In the dynamic realm of IT infrastructure management, understanding the intricacies of your storage system is not just beneficial—it’s crucial for ensuring efficiency and a competitive edge. For those utilizing Dell Compellent storage arrays, grasping the functionalities of Data Progression, RAID rebalancing, compression, and deduplication is paramount. Let’s dissect these key terminologies and their importance, along with discussing how a partnership with Dell can be instrumental in managing these complex processes.

Understanding the Terminologies

Before we delve into operational strategies, let’s clarify what these terms mean and why they are significant.

Data Progression

What It Is: Data Progression is Dell’s automated tiered storage technology. It intelligently moves data to the appropriate storage tier based on actual use and performance requirements.

What It’s Used For: This optimizes performance by ensuring that the most frequently accessed data is stored on the fastest Tier 1 storage (SSDs Typically) while less critical data is moved to slower, more cost-effective storage tiers.

Why We Use It: By aligning storage costs with the value of the data, Data Progression enables organizations to achieve high performance where it’s needed while keeping storage costs in check.

RAID Rebalancing

What It Is: RAID rebalancing is the process of redistributing data across all available disks in the RAID array after adding new drives or modules.

What It’s Used For: It’s crucial for maintaining optimal performance and ensuring data is evenly distributed across the storage infrastructure, which enhances fault tolerance.

Why We Use It: RAID rebalancing is employed to integrate additional storage capacity seamlessly and to maintain uniform load distribution, which is critical for system reliability and performance.


What It Is: Compression is a data reduction technique that decreases the size of data, allowing more information to be stored in the same amount of space.

What It’s Used For: It maximizes storage efficiency and can significantly reduce the required storage capacity.

Why We Use It: In environments with growing data volumes, compression is a cost-effective way to extend the life of the storage infrastructure without incurring immediate capital expenses for additional raw storage.


What It Is: Deduplication is another data reduction technique that eliminates redundant copies of repeating data within the storage.

What It’s Used For: It’s particularly effective in environments with significant data redundancy, such as virtualized storage or locations with numerous similar virtual machines.

Why We Use It: Deduplication enhances storage optimization, reduces costs, and can improve backup and recovery processes by minimizing the data footprint.

Operational Strategies and Considerations

Adding new storage to the Dell Compellent storage array and configuring advanced features require meticulous planning. Here are some critical considerations:

  • RAID Rebalance: Initiate this manual process during low-impact periods to minimize I/O latency. A RAID rebalance will temporarily halt Data Progression, so it’s advisable to schedule this during a planned maintenance window.
  • Tier 1 Space Management: Anticipate space requirements and manage data placement carefully. Prior to a RAID rebalance, ensure there’s adequate space in Tier 1 to avoid disruptions.
  • Compression and Deduplication: These processes add complexity and time to RAID rebalancing due to the extra computational load. They should be enabled after careful planning, ideally after the rebalance is complete to streamline the process.

The Value of a Dell Partnership

The complexities associated with these advanced storage management processes highlight the value of a partnership with Dell. Their expertise is indispensable for configuring and maintaining an optimal storage environment. From expert guidance to proactive support, Dell’s involvement ensures that your team can navigate the storage management landscape with confidence, whether it’s expanding capacity, optimizing performance, or safeguarding critical data.

Navigating RAID Rebalance and Data Progression in Dell Compellent

When it comes to managing the Dell Compellent storage array, understanding the impact of adding new storage and the subsequent processes like RAID rebalance and Data Progression is not just beneficial but critical. Let’s explore some frequently asked questions and their implications for your storage infrastructure.

Understanding Critical Data Allocation: Pinning Data to Tier 1

In scenarios involving critical data, such as databases for SQL servers, constant high-speed access is crucial. Businesses often require such data to reside on the fastest storage tier available — typically Tier 1, which is comprised of SSDs. The management of these data placement decisions is usually handled through specific storage policies within the Dell Compellent environment.

These policies can be configured to “pin” critical data to a desired tier, ensuring that it remains on Tier 1, irrespective of the data progression policies that are in place. This is particularly important for performance-sensitive applications where latency can significantly affect operations.

Is the RAID rebalance a manual process?

Yes, RAID rebalancing is typically a manual process. Within the Dell Compellent systems, the rebalance is initiated manually following the addition of new storage. This manual initiation is key to planning the rebalance at a time that minimizes operational impact, preserving the efficiency of your IT environment.

Does the RAID rebalance stop data progression?

Indeed, it does. During a RAID rebalance, Data Progression is paused. The rationale is straightforward: to safeguard data integrity. The system cannot assure data consistency during an active move between tiers, hence the temporary cessation of Data Progression is a necessary measure.

Does the RAID rebalance cause I/O latency?

Yes, a RAID rebalance can induce I/O latency due to the resource-intensive nature of the process. Therefore, it is recommended to schedule a RAID rebalance during a maintenance window or off-peak hours. This scheduling reduces the impact on performance and ensures the system operates with reduced activity, facilitating a smoother rebalance.

Could running out of Tier 1 space be an issue?

If Data Progression is halted for a significant period due to RAID rebalancing, and your Tier 1 space is already low, there’s a real risk of running out of space. Anticipating additional space requirements and managing data influx during the rebalance is crucial.

Does enabling compression and deduplication prolong the RAID rebalance?

Yes, enabling these data reduction techniques can extend the duration of a RAID rebalance. Compression and deduplication necessitate additional processing to minimize the data volume, which can prolong the time required for the RAID to rebuild and balance. The extent of this additional time hinges on the volume of data, the efficiency of data reduction algorithms, and the processing power of the system.

Strategic Approaches for Storage Management

In light of these insights, let’s consider a strategic approach for managing these storage processes:

  1. Plan for RAID Rebalance: Initiate the manual rebalance process during predetermined maintenance windows to curb any potential latency impacts.
  2. Anticipate Data Progression Halts: Understand that a RAID rebalance will suspend Data Progression. This requires a calculated approach to manage Tier 1 space effectively to prevent bottlenecks.
  3. Assess Timing for Compression and Deduplication: Implement data reduction technologies like compression and deduplication post-rebalance, factoring in the additional time and resources they require.

Partnering with Dell: A Strategic Advantage

With these complexities in mind, recognizing the value of a partnership with Dell becomes evident. The company’s expertise ensures a meticulous approach to integrating additional storage, managing Data Progression, and leveraging RAID rebalancing, among other features.

Final Thoughts

For organizations utilizing the Dell Compellent, comprehending the intricacies of RAID rebalance and Data Progression is essential. These technologies, when managed adeptly, can significantly enhance storage efficiency and operational performance. By acknowledging the manual aspects, planning for the possible impacts on data accessibility, and strategically scheduling intensive processes, businesses can mitigate risks and ensure seamless operations.


The Dell Compellent array offers sophisticated features that, when understood and managed correctly, can substantially benefit your organization. It is essential for management and IT teams to either possess a deep understanding of these technologies or to partner with Dell to maximize the storage investment. By doing so, businesses ensure that their storage systems are not merely operational but finely tuned to support and propel business operations now and in the future.


Below, you’ll find a list of relevant resources from Dell that delve into topics such as RAID rebalancing, data progression, and data tiering policies for systems like the Dell Compellent. You should check the current Dell support site or contact Dell directly for the most up-to-date links and resources.

1. Dell Compellent Data Progression: For detailed explanations and best practices on Data Progression in Dell Compellent systems, you would typically refer to the Dell Storage Manager User Guide or Compellent’s specific documentation.

Dell Compellent Data Progression – https://www.delltechnologies.com/resources/en-us/asset/white-papers/products/storage/h17334-wp-sc-series-data-progression.pdf

2. RAID Management and Rebalance: Information on RAID management, including rebalancing procedures, can often be found in the hardware manuals or storage management software guides provided by Dell for the SC Series.

Dell SC Series Storage Professional Guide – https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-us/collaterals/unauth/white-papers/products/storage/h18185-sc-series-technical-docs-and-articles.pdf

3. Tiering and RAID Policies: Documentation on setting policies for tiering and keeping data on certain tiers would be available in the Dell Storage Manager documentation or the SC Series Best Practices Guides.

Dell Storage Manager Administrator’s Guide – https://www.dell.com/support/manuals/en-us/dell-compellent-sc8000/dsm2016_admin_pub-v1/introduction?guid=guid-5c39edc1-c2a3-4f47-b18c-3de6c06b58a4&lang=en-us

4. Compression and Deduplication: Details on enabling and configuring compression and deduplication features are typically found within the Dell Storage Manager documentation or technical whitepapers for Dell Compellent.

Understanding Data Reduction Technologies – https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-us/blog/data-reduction-technologies-keeping-up-with-the-data-deluge

5. Critical Data Management: Managing SQL data and ensuring it remains on the fastest tier can be found in Dell’s SC Series Storage and Microsoft SQL Server Best Practices, covering the integration and configuration for optimal performance.

Best Practices for SQL Server – https://www.delltechnologies.com/resources/en-us/asset/white-papers/products/storage/h15093-dell-emc-sc-series-storage-and-microsoft-sql-server-best-practices.pdf

6. Support and Technical Assistance: For direct assistance and the latest resources, contacting Dell’s technical support or accessing their knowledge base is recommended.

Dell Technical Support – https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-us

Remember that these links may change over time as Dell updates its support documentation and resource locations. If these links do not work or if you require further information, visiting the Dell Support website or reach out to a Dell representative would be the next steps to take.