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Storage consolidation for SMBs: June 2 announcement

Reposting of article about the announcement made on June 2, focused on storage consolidation for SMBs. We updated the HP StorageWorks Data Vault, X1000, and P2000 product families.

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HP Technology@Work Day 1 morning summary

By Calvin Zito, aka @HPStorageGuy

HP Technology@Work is underway here in Frankfurt (did I actually get any sleep on Monday night??).  I've attended two sessions this morning.  Here's a brief summary of each

Solving storage challenges in HP BladeSystem environments (presenter Chris Hornauer)

Chris opened this session by asking the customers (probably around 50) who had DAS, iSCSI, or FC-based with their HP BladeSystem.  I was surprised that almost everyone said FC and that most all of them were EVA customers with a few XP customers too.  I didn't get a chance to ask any of them why but based on some of the questions that were being asked about the MDS600, the main reason is around shared storage and disaster recovery.  The P4000, our iSCSI-based storage, also has very strong disaster recovery capabilities, but is a rather new offering for most customers in Europe.  Here's a picture of Chris presenting:

Chris ran through the range of storage offerings from SAS-based MDS600, iSCSI-based P2000 G3 MSA, FC-based EVA, and file-serving X9000.  It was a basic session reviewing key features and capabilities of each product. 

What's new with the P2000 G3 MSA (presented by Norman Morales)

Norman presented a similar presentation at our HP StorageWorks Tech Day where he talked about the latest enhancements to the P2000.  Here are a few pictures I grabbed during Norman's session.

Norman Morales presenting


A summary slide showing what's new with the HP StorageWorks P2000


Comparison of P2000 G3 MSA with previous generation


Another slide comparing P2000 G3 with G2.

This afternoon I'll attend Dave Donatelli's plenary session and hopefully a couple more storage sessions.

Labels: EVA| HPTAW| P2000| P4000| SAS| storage

Are Fibre Channel disk drives dead?

  By Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy

It's time to get back to the topic of storage - as most of the regular readers of this blog know, I've been out for a few weeks dealing with my Mother's death.  Before I jump back into storage, I want to again thank everyone who was so kind to me.  I thank you very much - your kindness helped to get me through a difficult time.  Ok, so now onward....

There are a number of storage-focused groups on LinkedIn.  I noticed a conversation that was started on one of them discussing an article written by industry analyst George Crump.  The article itself was promoting a particular vendor but asked some good questions.  It covered a couple of different emerging technologies that could help reduce storage costs.  George makes the case that customers are buying more drives than they need from a capacity perspective to get the performance needed though I would argue that our EVA array minimizes this issue because of the built-in virtualization.  George suggests that SSD could help fill this gap but because it's still expensive compared to hard drive technology, it's not for everyone.  You can either read George's blog or read the conversation on LinkedIn to get the details of what he discussed.  Today, I wanted to highlight the answer that our own Tim Sheets gave.  Tim works in our Unified Storage Division managing portfolio strategy and marketing operations.  Here's what he had to say:

From a vantage point of a company that sells more HDD's than anyone else in the world, there are certainly changes on the horizon. SAS drives clearly offer an economic advantage and truth be told, the HDD manufacturers are trying to get away from FC drives because they are more expensive to produce. Now as for SSD's replacing FC drives... that is not going to happen wholesale at this time. The costs are too high, and there is still much to learn about the longer term reliability related to write cycles (SSD cells wear out at much lower cycles than traditional HDD's)  

While there is lots of work going on in the SSD market to manage write balancing, we cannot overlook the fact that there is much more work to be done to get to full enterprise reliability at volume economics. SLC is certainly more robust that MLC, but does not have the capacities of MLC. On the flip side, SLC has better write "wear-out" cycles than MLC. Either way, SSD costs are extremely high even when compared to FC HDDs. For now, I think we will primarily see SSD's in very high performance systems where customers are willing to pay a significant premium to get that performance. Texas Memory Systems and Fusion IO are good examples of this. However, we will not see mass adoption until the wear out rates become stable/proven and the costs drop dramatically. According to the SSD manufactures, that is still some time away for enterprise class drives.

Additionally, we will need to see the application developers modify their applications to take advantage of what SSD's can offer. Storage management/tuning tools will need to change in order to optimize storage environments using SSD's. And as Phillip from 3PAR notes above, storage tiering is critical here. (Editor's note: You'll have to go to the LinkedIn discussion to see what Phillip said). Today, solutions that are read intensive and need high IO rates are ideal for SSD. Write intensive applications are probably better off with rotating media for now if cost is a major factor.

All of this will take some time, as does adoption for most nascent technologies. SSD's will become more popular in certain applications, but the industry won't turn on a dime just yet. Longer term (3-5 years or more) they will begin to become more of a mainstream storage technology. For now, rotating media is here to say for a while.

Tim - I hope you don't mind me using your answer here for our readers.

Why isn't all storage in a SAN?

By Charles Vallhonrat

Despite many years of strong growth in storage migrating to SANs, we still live in a world where a huge amount of storage is still directly attached to servers.  Why have we not seen all storage move external for any environment with multiple servers?  Surely the SAN offers lower cost, higher data protection, and better utilization.

The fact of the matter is a lot of data remains inside servers or directly attached via a JBOD because that is the best place for it.  Maybe there is a specific performance need, or certain local control of data and access that leads to customers keep storage directly attached. Customers are savvy and until the SAN offers a better solution for their specific need, they are keeping certain storage infrastructure close to the server.

Enter shared SAS.  It looks and smells like shared storage yet offers the simplicity of Direct Attached Storage (DAS) and has no requirement for a switch or to manage a network in smaller configurations.  HP introduced a shared SAS solution - The MSA2000sa - in August 2008 and quickly SAS became 25% of the interconnect mix for MSA.  Now with the release of a generation 2 model (or G2) there are a number of improvements that will likely boost usage still further.  The G2 products is faster than the previous generation, supports more drives, supports more snapshots, supports more LUNs, supports more servers...and on and on.  But, one of the most important new features is support for 2.5" inch (aka Small Form Factor) drives.  Yep, the same type of drives used in many ProLiant servers.  In fact, with the MSA2000sa G2, the small form factor drives are same drives that are used in our HP ProLiant servers.  Talk about keeping the simplicity of DAS...

By the way, once customers get the benefit of shared storage using SAS, the MSA architecture allows them to upgrade controllers to iSCSI or Fibre Channel if they wish.  Maybe we have finally found the catalyst to remove storage from servers.

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6Gbps SAS drives

By Calvin Zito

Sonia Mathur, my colleague on the HP ProLiant team, has a post titled "Are 6Gbps SAS drives right for your environment?".  Here's a link to her post:  I think you'll find this very helpful.  You can also check out our StorageWorks Product Selector to see which of our StorageWorks disk systems support SAS drives.  Go to the product selector (URL: and under drive info, select SAS.  In future posts, we'll talk about support for 6Gbs SAS drives on our storage systems. 

Labels: SAS| storage
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