At our April 2010 Tech Day, one of the sessions was a technical overview of the X9000 Network Storage System. The X9000 is based on technology from our acquisition of IBRIX. The presenter is Efrin Molina, a technical specialists.
We announced the X9000 Network Storage System in November 2009. This is a podcast with Milan Shetti, former CEO of IBRIX and Lee Johns, Marketing Director about the X9000.
By Calvin Zito
We wanted to try a new format with our blog so I'm happy to share this podcast with you today. We'll still post written blogs but we'll also mix in podcasts now and then.
Today's discussion is with Lee Johns. Lee is the Director of Marketing for our Unified Storage Division. Lee and I discussed a blog post that we had seen from George Crump, a storage analyst at Storage Switzerland. George talked about storage applications "like thin provisioning, snapshot, replication and other capabilities" and wondered why customers can't just buy this software capabilities and run it on their hardware. That's what Lee and I discussed in this podcast. Let me know if you like the format.
By Pete Brey, WW Extreme Storage Business Development Manager
As you may have noticed the HP StorageWorks Scalable NAS team has been rather busy lately. The acquisition of IBRIX Software closed last week and just this Monday Ocarina Networks put out a press release about Ocarina’s ECOsystem software being resold through HP as an offering for our Scalable NAS products.
Great software on great hardware – it’s a beautiful thing! So what is it that these two great software offerings bring to the table, you ask? Performance and capacity optimized storage, of course. Bringing IBRIX into the HP NAS portfolio extends our offerings with data protection, high availability features and data management services for extreme scale-out, cloud and high performance computing deployments. IBRIX excels in high performance file serving environments with the ability to share storage and span a name space across multi-petabyte systems.
Now multi-petabyte systems are great when you have zillions of files that need to be stored but so is a multi-petabyte system that is optimized so that in the same space tens of zillions can be contained. This is where Ocarina’s ECOsystem software adds its value to our NAS products. The ECOsystem software transforms your storage with its content-aware storage optimization that compresses data up to 10:1 with added features such as deduplication, ECOsnap snapshots, and its own global name space capability. The unique thing about our reseller partnership is that HP can run the ECOsystem software right on our NAS nodes, further optimizing your infrastructure. Now there aren’t too many storage vendors out there who can talk about that now, are there?
HP StorageWorks NAS, IBRIX, and Ocarina - this truly is a beautiful thing! Look for more beautiful things to come from HP StorageWorks in the near future.
By Calvin Zito
I had previously told you about HP's intent to acquire IBRIX. Today, the acquisition of IBRIX by HP was finalized and boy, was that a fast close!
I'd like to welcome the IBRIX team to HP and the StorageWorks organiziation - glad to have you aboard! Now the heavy lifting of integration can begin. We'll be working fast to bring the IBRIX solutoins into our StorageWorks portfolio and we'll share more details when we can so stay tuned!
By Ian Duncan
You almost certainly shouldn't have a favorite child - that can't end well.
At some point in your life you may well find yourself having a favorite pair of socks - this is a normal sign of aging. Don't fight it - it's inevitable.
You can (in fact I may argue you should) have favorite words - I find myself utilizing some words in conversations more often than perhaps I should simply because I like the way that they sound. Rambunctious, Panacea and Diametric all fit into this category - If I can find a way to fit them into a sentence I will.
I spent a lot of time thinking about diametric forces last week - we had one of our regular customer councils where about 40 or so customers from across the country were good enough to come and spend some time telling us about their experiences with our products. These are some of our most loyal customers and so there's little to no attempt at selling in this forum - we really just want to get a deeper insight into what their day to day lives are like and how we can make sure our product marketing and development teams really understand the issues and opportunities that they live with every day.
The diametric forces that many of them talked about can be summarized (fairly) briefly:
- On the one hand everyone continues to experience dramatic information growth - the trajectory varied between 50% and 200% per year but there were some common themes - most of the content was file based, much of it related to static or streaming media, collaboration tools or replicated data.
- On the other hand no one was claiming that their IT budget was growing at anywhere near these levels - in many cases folks believed they'd have to deal with a budget reduction.
This puts them in a challenging position - data keeps growing yet budgets don't keep pace - something has to change and whilst technologies like file optimization, deduplication and smart snapshots can help reduce the amount of content stored many in the room believed that the biggest opportunity is aligning data with the most appropriate storage system.
Since we announced the 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100) back in May (and incidentally it started shipping recently) one of the most interesting aspects of talking to customers about it has been how quickly the conversation turns to price - I've sold hardware and software for a number of years and typically price is a part of the conversation that you try to keep away from for as long as possible. With the ExDS9100 we're very open about the price (under $2/GB since you're asking) and we're finding that it's becoming a more prominent component of the customer evaluation process.
It's understandable with the world economies collapsing around us that price is high on many people's agenda but there's more to it than just acquisition cost. The fact is that people are staying in roles for a shorter amount of time right now - the average CIO tenure is around 3 years and so people are looking for a Return-On-Investment that is front-end loaded. Why should they sign off on a piece of infrastructure that will only benefit their successor? Customers have every right to expect storage vendors to apply innovation to reduce storage costs as much as increasing levels of performance or protection - we think that the ExDS9100 is targeted at a very clear customer issue today - those that need high scalability AND petabyte administration AND ridiculously low acquisition costs. Data Mobility Group recently undertook a study to look at how the ExDS9100 improves the economics of large scale storage - it's well worth a read - http://h71028.www7.hp.com/ERC/downloads/4AA2-3467ENW.pdf.
Ian Duncan, Director of Scalable NAS
-by Michael J. Callahan (Note: reposted to fix formatting problems)
1). You mention PolyServe as part of the solution--what exactly is PolyServe and what does it do?
PolyServe is a shared data clustering software product that runs on Linux or Windows. It provides three key capabilities:
- Cluster-wide storage access: a symmetric cluster file system and cluster volume manager that allows all the servers in the cluster to access files in a single shared pool of storage directly
- High-availability: automatic monitoring of hardware and software health, and failover in the event of problems, based on administrator-specified policies
- Cluster-wide administration of storage resources and software services
These core capabilities provide the foundation for the ExDS platform. The cluster file system allows all 4 to 16 blades in the system to access the data stored in all storage blocks simultaneously; this means there's no need to partition data manually among blades, makes it possible to scale out performance across multiple blades, and is the basis for fast fail-over. The high-availability and cluster-wide administration infrastructure make it easy to provide services such as NFS, CIFS or HTTP across the blades and to do so in a way that is resilient against hardware or software failure.
In fact, while I mention services such as NFS, CIFS and HTTP, PolyServe can support many different kinds of applications running on top of it. In the past, we've built solutions on top of the core PolyServe technology for building consolidated, scalable, highly-available file servers -- (which ExDS will incorporate) and consolidated, easily-managed, mission critical database clusters.
However, it's also possible for users to put their own applications on top of a PolyServe environment. The PolyServe file system looks just like any other file system from the application perspective and uses the same APIs. For ExDS, this means it is possible to run user-provided applications on the blades within the system. These applications can easily be made highly-available using the mechanisms I mention above. I'll talk more about this capability in a future post.
2) Why does the ExDS use Linux as its operating system, rather than Windows Storage Server?
As I described above, the PolyServe software itself runs on both Linux and Windows. In fact, we've done a lot of work specifically targeting the Windows environment, with a particular focus on supporting Microsoft SQL Server about which I also hope to blog in more depth in future. However, we've found that the majority of customers seeking very large-scale storage solutions like ExDS are deploying services on Linux, so that's the platform we've used for ExDS.
3) Why does ExDS use new 'storage blocks' rather than traditional arrays like MSA or EVA?
As I mentioned in my first post, one of the key design principles for ExDS is to be as cost-, space- and power-efficient as possible while delivering a very large amount of storage. The hardware we're using for the storage block is strongly optimized for these attributes: for example, each storage block provides 82 1TB drives in only 7 rack units of space, which is far denser than traditional arrays.
Thanks for the questions!
Michael Callahan, Chief Technologist
HP StorageWorks Scalable NAS Division
-by Pete Brey
In last week’s blog, you heard from our Chief Technologist on the HP Highly Scalable NAS team. I work closely with Michael and am the World Wide Marketing Manager for our recently announced Extreme Data Storage product. When I joined HP’s Network Attached Storage group several years ago, I was responsible for bringing to market HP’s Enterprise File Services product line which is based upon the PolyServe scalable file system. In the time since we brought those products to market, we have experienced incredible success growing that business by rolling up our sleeves and helping customers build their next generation file serving environments. To be certain, our new Scalable NAS products are deployed in a wide array of customer scenarios – some small, and some very mind-bogglingly large. We’ve been working on perfecting our product for years and ExDS is a culmination of our experience serving the large end of the NAS market.
When you step back and you look at what the industry players are saying about this space – whether they call it Cloud Storage, Clustered Storage, or what have you – there are a few things we at HP think are going to drive the overall direction of the market. First and foremost, these environments are very complex and people are fundamentally looking for simpler and better approaches. At HP, we’ve had many years of experience working closely with these types of customers to build these kinds of solutions. We know the fundamental components inside and out – the scalable file system, the hardware to run it on, and the storage to house the content. From our continued investments in PolyServe to our industry-leading BladeSystem to some cool new storage technology we’ve developed in-house, we are innovating and we will deliver a complete “baked” end-to-end solution. So while some are approaching this market as a “science project” with cobbled-together software and hardware, HP will be harnessing all of the knowledge and power of its portfolio to deliver what customers are demanding. Others are approaching this market with proprietary close-ended solutions, which we also think is the wrong long-term approach because it locks customers in with few long-term options and fundamentally higher cost structures. HP’s Extreme Data Storage System encompasses our vision that customers should demand these types of systems be industry standard and open.
But don’t take my word for it – here is what others are saying about HP’s approach:
And here are some other recent industry articles:
-by Michael J. Callahan
Since this is my first posting here, I thought I should introduce myself. I am the Chief Technologist for the HP StorageWorks Scalable NAS Division. HP is very serious about broadening its offerings in file-based storage, and the creation of this division was a reflection of that. A significant part of the division--though by no means all of it--came to HP through the acquisition about a year ago of PolyServe, a shared data clustering software company where I was CTO and cofounder. HP had long partnered with PolyServe to deliver NAS solutions using HP servers and storage and PolyServe software, so it was natural for us to find a home here.
It's been a tremendously exciting first year: being part of HP has allowed us to deepen our investment in PolyServe's clustering technology dramatically and also to leverage HP's great strengths in servers, blades, storage hardware, and storage and management software. Last week we announced some of the first fruits of the work we've been doing--the HP StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data System--and so for my first post I'd like to discuss why I'm so excited about this product.
The ExDS solution builds on PolyServe's experience working with customers who are building new business models based on having vast amounts of data, from hundreds of terabytes to multiple petabytes, available on-line at low cost; for example, web digital media and social networking services, and some kinds of scientific and technical applications.
It's worth acknowledging up front that this isn't everyone. We have customers using our software in a wide variety of ways, from financial institutions running mission-critical applications handling millions of transactions a day, through enterprises building scalable, easily-managed NAS services out of industry-standard servers and consolidating their Microsoft SQL Server databases into highly-available, efficient clusters. For these customers, integration with traditional data center storage infrastructure, like our MSA, EVA and XP storage arrays, is key. We've covered those needs for the past few years with several offerings: the HP StorageWorks Enterprise File Services Clustered Gateway, which includes everything you need to build scalable, highly-available file services on top of traditional enterprise storage; the HP StorageWorks EVA-FS, which adds EVA storage to the EFS-CG; and finally various software-only options, where you add your own servers and storage. ExDS is not a replacement for these products.
In our experience, however, petabyte-scale deployments have a distinct set of requirements, and that's what ExDS is designed to address. Typically, we've found that customers in this space are very concerned about issues of cost, physical density, power efficiency, and manageability/operational efficiency:
If you're buying such large amounts of storage, obviously cost per gigabyte becomes a major concern. One way of looking at this is: what solution delivers the thousands of drives you'll need for petabytes of data with as little cost overhead per drive as possible?
Besides cost efficiency, customers are looking for solutions that are physically dense and power-efficient, to make economical use of data center space, power and cooling. Again, you can view this as asking, per drive, how much physical space and power overhead does the system impose?
Whereas in enterprise environments, it's typical to have storage administrators' responsibilities measured in tens or hundreds of terabytes, in petabyte-scale deployments this would clearly be uneconomical. It must be possible for an individual administrator to handle petabytes of storage.
The ExDS contains a lot of new engineering to provide a complete solution addressing these concerns, building on our experience working with customers who have constructed petabyte-scale environments using PolyServe software. These customers have typically combined PolyServe software with storage hardware of their own choice, in many cases making a significant investment in custom integration to put the whole solution together.
To achieve excellent cost-, space- and power-efficiency, ExDS is based on HP c-Class BladeSystem blades and new storage hardware, different from anything in the existing StorageWorks product portfolio, which we're calling 'storage blocks'.
Blades run storage services for the outside world, and an ExDS can be configured with anywhere from 4 to 16 blades, based on the level of application performance required.
Storage blocks contain disks in a very space- and power-efficient package. Each block consists of 82 drives in 7 rack units of space, for a density of nearly 12 terabytes/U with the 1TB drives we'll have. An ExDS can contain from 3 to 10 storage blocks, for up to a total of 820 drives.
Note that performance and footprint can be scaled independently--it's perfectly legitimate to have an ExDS system with 4 blades and 10 storage blocks, or 16 blades and 3 storage blocks. This in itself can be a major source of savings, since you don't have to pay for (and power, and cool) CPUs you don't need.
To address the operational issues entailed by operating at such a large scale, ExDS contains new appliance management software that permits the entire system to be provisioned, configured, monitored and optimized from a single console. Blades and storage blocks can easily be added to an ExDS system using the console, and any failures (drives in particular, in a system of this scale, are bound to fail) are surfaced to the administrator with direct information about what FRU to replace to solve the problem.
Of course, ExDS also includes the PolyServe software, which includes a cluster file system allowing all blades to access all storage in the system simultaneously, provides complete high-availability, and allows standard software--even the customer's own application--to run on the blades within the ExDS system .
I have a lot more to say about all of these elements in future posts, but for now let me just close by saying again how pleased I am to be able to start talking, finally, about some of what we've been working on. From a PolyServe perspective, ExDS does a great job providing a complete, simple, out-of-the-box solution to a big challenge--whereas, in the past, we've seen customers have to invest a significant effort to build similar environments themselves. It also shows why being a part of HP is such an advantage. I mentioned above that the StorageWorks Scalable NAS division, although it includes PolyServe, is far more than just PolyServe. In fact, the ExDS solution has been built principally by a part of our team that was not formerly from PolyServe, and it includes a lot of work, and indeed IP, from other parts of HP. I think it's a great start, and I expect to have a lot more to say about it, and other things we're doing, in future.
I'd love to hear your feedback on ExDS or other aspects of our technology!
Michael J. Callahan
StorageWorks NAS Division Chief Technologist