They already can't quite figure out how to merge the two systems and have been selling both. The inside story is that EQL will go away, but they never seem to go away and Compellent can't quite come up with a product as simple and cheap as EQL.
Scuttlebutt is that they're prepping to release firmware for EQL and CML that will allow cross-replication and extend the Enterprise Manager tool to also manage EQL. And the simplicity... well they did just come out with the SCv2000 which is all wizard-driven and about as dead simple to set up as the EQL. I predict we'll see that same level of simplicity making its way into the higher tier products pretty soon.
I think there's also an open question about the mid-long range future of Compellent's primary sales pitch, its automatic tiering of data between different disk speeds (like SSD, 15k and 7.2k) when the future of data storage looks increasingly like it will be all flash, at least for most of the market volume.
What does all that tiering overhead mean in a world dominated by flash? Maybe it makes sense for the absolute largest installs where petabytes are in play, but most of the Compellent installs I've seen have been a shelf of tier 1 and maybe 2 shelves of tier 3. And they're increasingly 10G iSCSI focused, passing on FC.
To me this is interesting. Thing is there's more than one type of SSD technology at play today. There's SLC, (e)MLC and now TLC (3D-NAND). Each of these have different performance stats just like spinning disk. Yeah, even the lowest end of these is 10 times as fast as even a 15K drive but the write performance statistics of each of these drive types in particular is quite different. I remember going from my Samsung SLC 64GB boot drive on my laptop (this is going back several years) to an MLC 128GB drive and despite similar read performance I was always struck by how different the write performance was. Yeah, the MLC was a lot cheaper for the capacity but the write performance suffered greatly. From what I hear, TLC suffers a similar drop in write performance compared to MLC.
The auto tiering if configured correctly can certainly make for an interesting performance story. Put SLC at the top where you want fast writes and allow it to trickle down to MLC and/or TLC... just like 15K->10K->7K. There's a question mark over whether current controllers can really take advantage of the potential performance in this kind of setup, but we're seeing controller performance increasing over generations anyway.
The fact that we can now buy TLC drives at enterprise level for about the same price as 15K per GB is incredibly interesting to me and I think will really shake up the industry.
I can't figure out how they'd blend in EMC to this mix.
What they're probably after is controlling interest in VMware. This would give them a complete vertical play for virtualization, being able to supply compute, networking, storage and hypervisor. They would probably also be in a position to further a lot of network and storage virtualization with control over both sides of the equation, hardware an software.
I do wonder if there's a possible anti-trust question here. I also wonder how Microsoft would feel about it as well.
Ding ding ding! I think we have a winner... even though I have no information here I would guess this is almost certainly the play here. That and RSA would give Dell an even stronger foothold in the Enterprise than they already have. I have to admit they've been making some REALLY interesting changes in their portfolio, support and even sales organizations lately that I think make them a company to watch. Even in networking... they've shit-canned the atrocious Powerconnect line of switches (that some people loved) and replaced with a whole new line of switching from low end to high... and it's really good stuff! I myself just recently replaced my home core switch with an X1018; a low-end half-rack web-managed switch that's actually really bloody good, simple to set up and fanless. Gotta love that. Plus they sell a POE+ version if you want to do security cameras and phones in your house
I don't think EMC's storage portfolio would really mesh well with Dell's current storage direction, but who knows? They've been espousing the open platform advantages of Compellent since I bought my first pair of SC8K's at work ~5 years ago (they were brand new at the time as Compellent had just been bought by Dell). I find it unlikely they'd go back to the closed architecture of EMC for enterprise storage... though I'm sure the customer list would be worth something to Dell...