Today I have both a video version and MP3 download of a recent HP ExpertLink webinar we did focused on Converged Storage. The video is only the introduction on converged storage while the MP3 includes the entire webinar that included a Q&A with a panel of experts.
Today at VMworld, we had another announcement, following up on the storage federation announcement we did last week. I'm at VMworld now and ran back to my room to give you a quick overview of this announcement. So here it is:
- We announced the HP VirtualSystem for VMware. Our QuickSpec document is always a helpful technical resource to get familiar with a new product so here's a link to the VirtualSystem QuickSpecs. It's also been a topic of a few blog posts I've done.
- We announced the latest version of our HP LeftHand software, SAN/iQ 9.5 that will be available worldwide in October. I'll have more on this in the next few day.
- HP also announced enhancements to our HP FlexNetwork Architecture. Here's a link to a high-level document (PDF format) that talks about that.
Vaughn Stewart, my storage industry colleague over at NetApp, posted an article yesterday about its new Virtual Storage Array or VSA. We have a product also called VSA. To avoid any confusion, I thought it would be worth doing a high-level comparison.
This is the third podcast in my series about virtualization. I talked with Jeremy Sherwood, VP of Sales and Operations from Opus Interactive about how they've used virtualization in the data center and specifically his experience with the P4000 SAN Solution (former HP LeftHand)
By Calvin Zito, aka @HPStorageGuy
In yesterday's podcast, I talked about the new P2000 G3 MSA with Charles Vallhonrat. Today I turn my attention to the HP StorageWorks P4000 G2 SAN Solution (formerly known as HP LeftHand). This is a major release of the P4000 and you'll get the sense of that in the podcast as I talk to Chris McCall about many of the enhancements in the P4000. Here's the podcast:
As I said, there are a lot of new features with the P4000 release. Here are the highlights I talked to Chris about:
- Improve capacity efficiency by as much as 50%
- Best Practice Analyzer allows you to check your infrastructure configuration to ensure you are using best practices
- Simplified data management and data protection with Application Integrated Snapshots
- Unified NAS Gateway for the P4000 allows you to manage both block and file data storage with the same infrastructure
- Support for Integrated Lights Out (ILO-2) extends management framework to manage both HP servers and the P4000 with ILO-2
- Mid-line SAS drives gives customers the same capacity and price as SATA but with the interconnect benefits (like dual port) of SAS drives
And don't forget about the upcoming HP and VMware Rethinking Virtualization workshops coming to 27 U.S. cities starting next week.
If you have any questions or comments about this announcement - leave me a comment or send me an email by clicking on the "Contact" link at the top right hand side of the page.
By Calvin Zito (Follow me on Twitter as @HPStorageGuy)
If you were like me and about 106 million other Americans, half of the fun of watching the Super Bowl are the ads. For folks outside of the U.S., you might get the Super Bowl on tape delay but not with the commercials. They are classic and worth checking out on YouTube. Some of the ads were very funny, others did a great job of making the brand or product advertised memorable. Still others were trying to be funny but so detached from the product that I was left scratching my head wondering if the advertising manager and agencies that did the ads still had jobs.
One that made many lists of "the best Super Bowl ad" was this one - it's hilarious and my family was rolling on the floor when it played.
After I saw the ad, I couldn't help but think of some of my fellow storage vendors and their capacity guarantee programs. Here's why. As a consumer, when I think of a guarantee, I think of products or retail outlets that say "if you aren't 100% satisfied with your purchase, return it for a no questions asked refund". Well, these capacity guarantees are far from a satisfaction program. One of the programs that does talk about their requirements publicly, the list of what you have to do to be part of their guarantee is longer than a winter night at the North or South Pole. Really, how is it a guarantee when the vendor stacks the deck with requirements that really is their guarantee that they won't lose the bet their making. And that takes me back to the commercial and the guy baiting the dog with a bark collar to speak so he'll give him a chip to eat. Let's look a bit closer at this.
What do these capacity guarantee programs promise? There are a few of these programs out there and all of them guarantee a 50% savings in capacity over your current environment. Wow - that does sound impressive, doesn't it? But I think you have to dig a little deeper.
How do these programs measure the 50% capacity savings? 3Par recently announced a guarantee and is short on disclosing any requirements that help you understand how they'll measure the savings. They have a link to a poster that is supposed to have more details and it's more like those home-made ads you'd find hanging in the lobby of your local grocery store - just missing those little bits of paper that you tear away to to have the phone number to call later. However, there is a rather prominent box where you can put your contact details and have someone get back in touch with you. I'm sure they'll be happy to call you and give you the details. In a Twitter conversation, Marc Farley (@3parfarley on Twitter) responded to a question about what's required by saying, "..there is a contract involved. There is necessarily going to be fine print. That's what contracts have." Maybe it's just me but I can't find the large print.
At least NetApp's guarantee lays out the starting point and some of the requirements. You have to be using RAID 1 (mirroring) or 10 (mirrored and striped) on your current array. My colleague Jim Haberkorn already covered the details of NetApp's program in a post titled "NetApp's 'Shining' Moment - its Capacity Guarantee Program follow-up" and he showed that by switching from RAID1 or RAID10 to NetApp's RAID DP, customers will get a 43% savings. Let me say this a different way to be as clear as I can - 43% of the 50% savings comes from changing RAID levels. HDS's new program has the same stipulation that you are using RAID 1 now and will use RAID 5 with their array. This sounds more like bait and switch than a guarantee.
HP doesn't have a capacity guarantee - so you must not be able to help save capacity, right? Our StorageWorks portfolio certainly has strong technologies that will help customers better manage your existing storage capacity. I could (and probably should) fill a blog post talking about all of these options but here are a few that come top of mind:
The budget an end-user spends on storage capacity is just one slice of their bigger IT budget and probably a small slice compared to the rest. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to save money on capacity - you should and we can help you do that. But I'm not sure these marketing ploys really have many customers in their programs. I would love to know how many customers try to take advantage of these guarantees only to be turned away because the vendor knows they will not be able to deliver. The bottom line is that these guarantees are designed to get customers to engage with these companies' sales team and hopefully drive a sale. I get that - we have activities designed to find prospects and drive sales too.
That leads me to the bigger picture. All of these vendors who have capacity guarantees only have one thing to offer customers - storage. HP is a total technology provider and is much better suited to help customers take cost out of their infrastructure just by virtue of the fact we are more than a storage company. NetApp, 3Par, or HDS can't do anything to help you drive down your power and cooling costs by making your data center more efficient. They can't help you to virtualize you entire infrastructure so that you can consolidate and have more flexible, adaptive resource pools. With solutions like Data Center Transformation, Data Center Smart Grid, Converged Infrastructure and Energy and Space Efficiency to just mention a few, HP can help you take cost out. One last suggest is you might consider attending the Realize the Future tour. Several of our senior leaders from our Enterprise Business (Services, Storage, Software, Servers, Networking) are part of the tour.
I can't help but leave you with one more Super Bowl commercial that had reminded me of these guarantees. Just be sure when you go to checkout and the "guarantee cashier" asks you RAID1 or RAID5 (RAID DP or whatever they want to impose on you), don't give the wrong answer or the capacity police just might haul you away!
Virtualization has been an often covered topic here on the Around the Storage Block blog. I have a great opportunity for you to learn more about virtualization your infrastructure with HP and VMware.
HP, VMware and select Authorized Channel Partners are teaming up to present 27 interactive workshops in US cities in February and March. The topic for these workshops is Rethinking Server Virtualization - Breaking the Performance and Manageability Barriers. If you attend one of these workshops, you'll learn how to simplify management, reduce costs, and optimize your infrastructure. The workshop will explore storage solutions like the HP LeftHand P4000 Storage System and the importance of storage when you virtualize servers.
Here are the topics these workshops will cover:
- Provision storage resources dynamically and intelligently
- Reduce the impact on application performance
- Scale for growth and adapt rapidly to changes in business requirements
- Manage your entire storage infrastructure through a single console
- Benefit from data center virtualization with VMware vSphere 4.0
Here's a link where you can register to attend. The tour starts in Dallas, TX, Jacksonville, FL, and Boston, MA on February 23rd and continues through March 18th. I hope you can join HP and VMware for one of these sessions.
By Mike Moroze, P4000 Usability Manager
A new feature found in the HP 4000 Storage System (HP LeftHand) is tighter integration with Microsoft's Volume Shadowcopy Services (VSS). I sat down with Adam Carter, Product Manager - HP P4000 solutions, to discuss our VSS integration and to help us understand it better.
1. Usability Corner (UC): What is VSS integration?
Adam Carter (AC): VSS is a framework that Microsoft provides to take snapshots in concert with applications.
2. UC: Why is this important?
AC: Integrating with VSS ensures the application is in the correct state when the snapshot is taken. This means that no I/Os are in "flight" or uncommitted - making sure all files associated with the application are in sync with the application and the storage solution. In addition, this also handles the application's volumes being spread across multiple volumes.
Our solution has had the ability to work with Microsoft's VSS since 2003, but now it's much easier to use - making it available on a daily basis. It is now more accessible to the "less tech-savvy customer" without taking the flexibility away from the "tech-savvy" or more sophisticated customer.
3. UC: Why is this solution better than others? Why would customers use our solution? What does it help them to do?
AC: There are several key differentiators to our solution:
A. No additional software is needed. This is important to our customer as it doesn't increase the cost of the solution.
B. No additional hidden costs for buying additional servers.
C. Increases ease of use. Because the customer is not buying additional software there is no new or additional user interface to learn, no separate installation, and no separate maintenance needs.
4. UC: What was your goal in coming out with this feature?
AC: We wanted to make VSS more accessible to all users and to keep it easy to use without adding any additional complexity - "just like snapshots should be." In the future, we'll be investigating if this should be the default setting. Our intention would be to broaden this integration beyond VSS/Microsoft to include other applications such as VMware ESX. Once we have that, then it would become the default - "the way snapshots always should be" - through one simple management interface.
5. UC: What are the 3 top reasons someone should use our solution?
AC: The 3 top reasons are:
- Easiest to Use
- No additional costs for software
- Operationally, no additional installations, or need to put on a server, no additional maintenance. It's "free," not "free like a puppy."
6. UC: How was usability addressed in this feature? And do you think you achieved it?
AC: Usability was THE GOAL -- it had to be easy enough for users to use. Yes, I think we did achieve it. It boiled down to a simple "check box" - 1 question: Do you want your application to manage the snapshot?
7. UC: What is the current biggest pain point this is meant to address?
AC: Customers now have better awareness for the need for the feature. The pain point was how much effort and expertise did the customer need to use the feature. We solved that by making it very simple to use.
8. UC: What's the initial customer response to this feature?
AC: We have taken something that was very difficult and made it really simple. Current customers appreciate that it is not a new, additional thing - they don't need to install and upgrade another thing. This is a big concern for our customers.
To see how easy it is to create application-managed snapshots, see the screen-shots below. These examples show how the feature is accessed via the Centralized Management Console (CMC, a single pane of glass for managing the P4000 Storage System).
For a single snapshot:
For a schedule to snapshot a volume:
By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy
I was trolling a bit this morning on the Internet and came across a YouTube video interview with our own Bill Chambers. Bill came to HP from LeftHand Networks and was interviewed by Virtual Strategy Magazine during the event. While I realize the event was a few months ago, the video serves as a good summary of the HP LeftHand P4000 SAN solutions. Here's the video::
(If you have any issues viewing the embedded video, you can view this video directly on YouTube by clicking here)
And just because I really got a lot out of VMworld 2009, I thought I'd give you with a couple of the blog posts that I had done around the event. These have some great information that many will find useful:
- My very late VMworld summary: Lots of good stuff here - I'd highlight the video of the P4000 demo that was done during our HP Super Session. The demo highlighted a multi-site stretched single SAN failover. There's also a video of me doing my social media thing that at least my kids got a good laugh at when they saw it.
- VMworld special podcast #1: I talked with Adam Carter, our P4000 Product Manager, about Virtual Desktop Infrastructure for remote and branch offices
To all those in the U.S., have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!