A couple of weeks ago, we had a full day of live streaming interviews from Microsoft Management Summit. There's no doubt that both HP and Microsoft are titans in technology and the partnership is helping our customers with their cloud journey - whether that is a private cloud or hybrid cloud. The interviews we did focused on that. There are too many to embed them all but I'm going to put a few of them here and give you links to the rest. There were 13 in all but this was my favorite!
By Govind Rangasmy, Product Manager
As a product guy, I'm constantly thinking of ways to simplify day-to-day operations for storage administrators. In that vein, one of the more interesting features recently released by the HP Storage Essentials team is automated storage performance policies - this helps manage performance on HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) and HP StorageWorks XP Disk Arrays.
As part of the requirement, I told the engineering team that policy management in HP Storage Essentials should be as easy as managing their Outlook rules. In Outlook, you define a policy (rule) using a precooked template, select a bunch of options, fire it up and off you go. I indicated to the engineers that for HP Storage Essentials to be effective and useful, the system should automatically monitor all of the EVA and XP storage arrays under management in a large enterprise, sending alerts if any deviations occur from the defined rules. Our engineering team ran with the idea, and we packaged up the new feature in the latest HP Storage Essentials 6.2 release.
There's an old storage axiom that every application performance issue is by default a storage issue until it's proven otherwise. While this simple wisdom holds up in most cases but not all. I recently attended a conference call with a customer who said that whenever he would go to a cross functional, application trouble shooting meeting, typically it would turn into a finger pointing session after five minutes. To avoid a similar fate, he suggests the Storage guy come prepared with lots of charts and data. Data speaks the truth. When you show up with more reports than the "other" team (Server or Application), it's much easier to prove that you're not the culprit and the storage team wins.
If HP Storage Essentials is deployed in your datacenters, you have the opportunity to make a splash at your next performance engineering meeting. HP Storage Essentials makes it easy to configure performance policies using pre-configured templates with a few mouse clicks. Once these policies are defined for your system components, whether it be controllers, array groups, or vdisks, the rest is automatic. HP Storage Essentials will send you an email containing data to quickly produce the charts and reports you need.
(NOTE: Click on an image to see a larger version of it)
VJ Garcha , Product Manager HP Storage Essentials software
Recently, we launched HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Manager (SRM) software 6.2, a new enhancement to our Business Service Automation (BSA) portfolio. We designed HP Storage Essentials 6.2 to help our customers increase performance monitoring, reduce management costs in heterogeneous environments and ultimately manage storage more efficiently.
Coming from an HP Storage Essentials product manager standpoint, I'm most excited about the below three features of the new version:
1. Storage Resource Management and Disaster-Recovery Environments
Storage networks have grown rapidly in recent years, increasing the critical need for proper management processes. A well executed strategy gives administrators better visibility into their infrastructure, optimized capacity planning and overall stronger performance. While many enterprises have multiple management tools from myriad of vendors, HP Storage Essentials 6.2 is a single SRM solution for heterogeneous environments. It improves resource utilization, lowers management costs and increases the quality of services to help drive goals for the business.
With the HP Storage Essentials 6.2 release customers can now manage storage in a disaster-recovery environment. It is well known that the availability of key application services and information is critical to maintaining business process in today's environment, and any outage has far reaching consequences on the business operation as a whole.
More often than not, organizations have multiple replication technologies within the environment. This leads to poor visibility and lack of capacity management, ultimately limiting efficiency and impeding SLA compliance. HP Storage Essentials 6.2 helps organizations reach a resolution, enabling auto-discovery, mapping capabilities, reporting and management of replication environments.
2. Architecture Options
Organizations used to have to choose a tool based on their requirement for an agent-rich or agent-less architectures, but now they are no longer limited to one option over the other. The new release of HP Storage Essentials lets customers pick their architecture (agent-less, agent-rich or hybrid). An agent less deployment delivers quicker time to value and requires less people cycles due to lack of agent life cycle management. An agent rich deployment delivers reports, forecasts and analysis in the context of applications and host volumes. So depending on the situation HP Storage Essentials 6.2 can be deployed in a agent less mode or agent rich mode or just a perfect blend of it.
3. Storage Automation
Are you intrigued by the idea of an internal storage cloud but wary of the potential disruption to your data center? HP Storage Essentials 6.2 is your platform to build a simple, internal storage cloud using your existing SAN to automate storage service delivery without any changes to your existing IT infrastructure. HP Storage Essentials 6.2 allows you to quickly and easily set up a simple service catalog to provide fully automated, on-demand access to a range of IT services to efficiently manage your SAN and virtual hosts.
You can leverage HP Business Service Automation (BSA) Server Automation, HP Storage Essentials and HP Operations Orchestration to order and provision a VM with operating system, application, and SAN storage in a fully heterogeneous environment.
By Jack Hughes, Storage Automation Product Manager
For what seems like years, the trades have been touting storage automation as the next big thing to improve data center efficiency. No doubt, there is vast potential for automation to help streamline SAN and NAS management. Storage provisioning, back-up, capacity reclamation and configuration management are a few examples of storage services typically requiring lots of repetitive, time consuming manual processes. So why are enterprise organizations, even those who have made the leap into server and network automation, reluctant to bring automation to storage operations?
Perhaps the answer lies in the history and culture of storage administration which has been somewhat shrouded in secrecy and segregated from the rest of the IT community by security measures. Whatever the reason, storage administrators often substitute home-grown scripts for true automation, relegating themselves to endless updates in order to stay current with the ever changing storage infrastructure.
This set-up worked just fine over the years until the disruptive force of virtualization changed everything. The virtualization revolution forced most organizations to re-think the way they’re doing business, and SAN and NAS management is no exception.
What we’re hearing now from customers is that the virtual revolution and its indisputable benefits also comes with a dark side manifesting itself in VM sprawl, over-provisioned storage, and underutilized capacity leading to application performance bottlenecks. Data center and NOC managers are concluding that the old ways of managing storage are no longer viable. Transparency of information about the storage infrastructure including capacity utilization, compliance, and performance is a must. In addition, more and more organizations are considering adding storage to self-service portals to more effectively meet the demands of growing and constantly changing virtual host infrastructure.
The virtualization revolution has provided the impetus to finally make storage automation essential for successful enterprise IT management. But to effectively meet the challenge, you need the right tools. HP Business Service Automation (BSA) is a good place to start. HP Operations Orchestration (OO) is the industry leader in run book automation and is tightly integrated with HP Storage Essentials. Together, these tools provide out-of-the box storage automation flows for rapid deployment of a variety of storage services. In addition, custom flows are easily created with the OO Studio using a simple drag, drop, and wire interface to quickly automate storage services and routines.
In upcoming editions of this blog I’ll talk more about specific use cases for automating storage services, but in the mean time I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of storage automation and its relevance in today’s virtual data centers.
By Nimish Shelat, Product Manager for HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management software
I wrote in July on the developments the storage software group has been doing. I followed up with how Storage Essentials SRM software can help manage storage in a virtual environment (Link Here). But I realized I left off some of the fundamentals - I get so caught up in this stuff I forget not everyone lives and breathes it as I do! So let me back up a bit.
The HP Storage Essentials (SE) software suite is a comprehensive storage resource management (SRM) solution that simplifies management of heterogeneous enterprise storage environment via storage provisioning, metering, and customized reporting, business application and backup monitoring, and end-to-end performance management.
Storage Essentials is a key component of the HP Business Service Automation (BSA) suite, which enables integrated automation of the entire IT service including applications, servers, network, and storage infrastructure. The integrated suites allow customers to discover and baseline their service infrastructure and manage its operations to enable service performance, availability, and improved IT agility.
Today I want to build on my last post and talk a bit more about delivering on the promise of automation......
We have noticed that in most enterprise customer environments typical IT service involves many components like applications, servers, network, and storage. Each service has multiple configurations and interdependencies and is managed by different teams using disparate management systems. Customers with such an interconnected IT infrastructure require multiple IT systems and teams to collaborate in a coordinated, process-oriented approach to be effective.
Making a simple task such as provisioning new storage to an application is typically a multi-step process that requires that several teams work together. I've seen it look like this:
The storage team needs to create new storage volume and assign it to the server
- The server team needs to create the server logical volumes and/or file systems to use the new storage
- And finally the DBA or the application administrator needs to assign the new storage to the appropriate application
In the same way, typical ITIL-defined change processes for storage infrastructure require coordination across multiple systems and teams, like this:
- The storage team scopes the changes to the storage domain-including the host-based storage resources that would be potentially impacted
- The storage team inputs this data into a change management system as a Request for Change
- The Change Advisory Board (or the IT service managers) evaluates service impact of the proposed changes to plan/schedule the change
- Upon approval from the Change Advisory Board, the storage team executes the change
- The storage team updates the change management system with the executed changes
- The IT service manager updates the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) to reflect the new state of the IT service-with the changed infrastructure and its configuration and interrelationships
All of these processes although critical are executed manually today. This puts a lot of pressure on the customer who must manually integrate the systems and coordinate the end-to-end process. Automation can help with the challenges associated with such a manual method.
As I discussed last month, HP's storage automation software suite is designed specifically to streamline these manual process. The suite is comprised of HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management software and the newly released Storage Essentials Performance Edition.
There's another cool product that further enables end-to-end storage automation--HP Operations Orchestration runbook automation. These two products offer a tight integration that automates storage provisioning, thereby reducing manual, error-prone IT management processes. This solution offers many virtualization-centric workflows that integrate server, storage, and network tasks in the virtualized environment. Check it out for yourself here.
By Nimish Shelat, Product Manager for HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management (SRM) software
I've been thinking about virtualization clouds, specifically as it relates to server-storage visibility. Here're some of my thoughts, would love to hear what you've experienced in the area as well.
It's true that server virtualization technologies (eg., VMware's ESX) bring several huge benefits to the enterprise; but let's not overlook that these technologies also create some challenging dynamics in the storage environment.
Specifically, vendors like VMware and Microsoft recommend that all hypervisors use shared storage (i.e. SAN) to take advantage of dynamic application scaling technologies like Vmotion, LiveMotion respectively. Virtualization has dramatically increased network based storage within the enterprise. In fact, several storage analysts predict that 50% of new storage purchases are driven by server virtualization initiatives.
Gone is the well understood "server - SAN - storage array" interrelationship; now we have additional virtual machine abstractions like VMFS (virtual machine files system), VMDK (virtual machine disks), virtual HBA's to add to the complexity of the server-storage dependency. This complexity makes it hard for the server and storage team to control and make changes to their infrastructure. It raises several difficult questions, such as:
- How much of WHAT is used?
- What is underutilized and what can be reclaimed?
- Do I have virtual servers not-under-management in my environment ?
- Are these servers consuming expensive storage resources?
Without good answers to these questions, your enterprise will not use its storage resources effectively and you'll inevitably see a dramatic increase in storage budgets and purchase needs.
Another challenge introduced by virtualization is around speed. The enhanced agility of virtualization demands faster storage automation. With virtualization in place, you can no longer accept long latencies in the storage provisioning process. Your customers expect storage provisioning to be done quickly and in a repeatable way; the visionary customers are in fact, expecting coordinated server and storage provisioning solutions.
Here's where HP Storage Essentials SRM software can help. It makes storage configurations and resources visible again, creating benefits such as:
- Comprehensive visibility into VM - storage dependencies
- Accurate storage resource capacity management
- Best in class Reporting and Dashboard
- Automated and error-free provisioning of storage resources to VMware server
- Virtual Server to Storage Array performance management
HP Operations Orchestration is a run book automation technology that orchestrates end-to-end IT processes. It provides out-of-the-box integration with Storage Essentials. By providing the automation and the orchestration engine, Storage Essentials provides its customers to fully automate their virtual infrastructure management.
Learn more on how HP Storage Essentials can help better manage storage in a virtual environment here (white paper titled: Managing storage in the virtual data centre: A white paper on HP Storage Essentials support for VMware host virtualisation). .
By Nimish Shelat, Product Manager
We recently released a new product - HP Storage Essentials Performance Edition (SEPE) software. It's got some great new capabilities in it that I think you'll like, so I'd like to point you to a few different things around our hp.com web.
Look for information about the HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management (SE) software on the hp.com product page. And new stuff on the recently launched SEPE software can be found on it's hp.com page.
Beyond what you find at the respective product pages, you will find additional information in the product data sheets.
- HP Storage Essentials Performance Edition software data sheet
- HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management (SRM) Enterprise Edition Software data sheet
Immerse yourself and increase your knowledge around Storage Essentials with a set of white papers.
- Managing storage in the virtual data center. A white paper on HP Storage Essentials support for VMware host virtualization
- HP Storage Essentials Delivering on the promise of Storage Automation
Now that you know what SE has to offer, take a look at how other customers have applied it to their advantage via the following case studies
- LSAC boosts service with technology
- Walsworth Publishing Co. goes to press with HP Storage Essentials
And finally get more on SE at www.hp.com/go/getSE
- More Case studies
- Product functionality Demonstration
- ROI Analysis paper
- On Demand "Capacity Management" webinar
- On Demand "Manage Physical and Virtual Storage " webinar
By Calvin Zito
HP Storage Essentials Performance Edition (this is a link to the product page) provides path-aware performance management of your HP storage arrays (EVA and XP) and SANs while delivering a structured approach to resolving and identifying path performance issues. Key to Storage Essentials Performance Edition is the ability to Optimize, Monitor, and Analyze performance, application and capacity issues:
Optimizes... storage performance for host virtual environment and troubleshoots storage performance issues easily
Monitors... the entire application storage path for performance and capacity to meet or exceed storage service SLA
Analyzes.. historical performance and capacity trends to fix problems proactively to maintain Storage service level agreements.
HP Storage Essentials Performance Edition two solutions,
HP Storage Essentials Performance Edition 150 software for HP StorageWorks EVA environments
HP Storage Essentials Performance Edition 300 software for HP StorageWorks XP environments.
Each package provides support for one array and one application instance (Oracle, SQL Server, Exchange) over a SAN with pre-defined number of managed access port (a host, storage, or SAN port). Finally, you might also find the data shee for Storage Essentials Performance Edition useful.
By Calvin Zito
As I mentioned in my post titled Storage virtualization and the new EVA, the StorageWorks EVA is proving itself to be far easier to manage than competitive traditional disk arrays. Let me give you some of the back story here.
Last year, we commissioned an analyst team (The Edison Group) to measure the steps, clicks, and time it took to perform the most common array administrative tasks on several midrange arrays. They wrote a paper about those findings called "TCO White Paper: EMC, NetApp, and HP Midrange Storage Arrays". To be blunt, the paper never really measured TCO and in the end I thought it was the wrong title but it was still a good thing to see the time savings that we get with the EVA versus other arrays.
As I discussed in my post titled "Must See TV: EVA, EMC, and NetApp Go Head to Head" we brought customers to Houston to run some testing for us. You can find the video in the Must See TV post but there was also a white paper titled "Competitive Testing of Common Administrative Tasks" that gave more details on what happened through that testing. Again, interesting but still didn't give me what I wanted to see - how much can a customer save.
Fast forward to pulling together our announcement for the new EVA6400 and EVA8400. The thought was to do a survey of storage administrators on how they spend their day - meaning how often do they perform these different administrative tasks on their storage arrays. It seemed to me that if we had that data, we could then get to a time or cost savings when managing an EVA. This approach hit paydirt! Because the Edison Group had done the original testing, we turned to them again to survey administrators and calculate the savings. The paper based on this research is called "Comparative Management Cost Survey" Let me briefing summarize the results:
The total workday savings of an organization using an EVA as compared to EMC is 36 percent. When compared to NetApp, the savings are 50 percent. Workday savings is a term Edison uses to describe the value of an employee's daily work averaged over a year.
So when you hear us say the EVA costs up to 50% less to manage than other competitive traditional disk arrays, you know now why we can confidently say that. If you aren't using EVA's today, can you really afford to spend 2X managing the other guys' arrays, especially in today's economy?
One last point - I'm sure the competition will try to come up with 30 different reasons why our conclusions are wrong. EMC already tried to debunk the original Edison report by having an EMC engineer perform the same tasks on a Clariion and time the results they got. Well, duh! If I have an EVA engineer do the same tasks that Edison did I'm sure they'd complete them faster too. I would love to put all of these products to a joint test - have the best and brighest engineers from each company perform these tasks on their own storage array and everyone posts the results to their website. Somehow I don't get the sense that this is a challenge that either EMC or NetApp will want to touch.
Have a great weekend!
By Calvin Zito
Last year when we announced the EVA4400, we brought some customers and partners to Houston who were not familiar with the management of either the EVA or EMC Clariion CX array. We gave them a list of tasks to complete and then created a video of that. It was one of the most popular videos of the last year on hp.com. The test showed that for the tasks these customers were asked to accomplish, they clearly thought the EVA was far easier to manage.
As we were preparing to announce the EVA6400 and EVA8400, we wanted to create an interesting video that would again make the point of how easy the EVA is to manage compared to competitive disk arrays. So the idea that we came up with was to have some high school students who are taking technical classes at their local high school (e.i. technology saavy) but not SAN or disk array experts put the EVA and competitive arrays to the test. The result is the HP StorageWorks EVA Simplicity Challenge. I don't want to spoil the fun for you but I'll make one comment about the results - the only reason the NetApp FAS system was even close was because no one could figure out how to do a snapshot on the NetApp system. So while the results look close, I personally thought we should have elimimated them from the results all together but we decided to keep their results in the video and note that doing the snapshots was beyond the scope of the test (in other words, was way too hard to figure out).
By the way, I wonder if my EMC blogger buddies have noticed that the EVA now has SSD drives - about a year a sooner than they predicted because to paraphrase their point of view, HP is a server company and can't innovate in storage. Of course, EMC doesn't have a virtualized storage array so what else can they say!