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HP Blades Day 2010: HP POD Tour

March 4th, 2010 No comments

As part of the HP Blades Day, HP showed us a demo of the mobile datacenters that HP manufacturers and sells as Performance Optimized Datacenters (POD).

Though we didn’t get to see the manufacturing of this POD, they showed one of these POD’s sitting in their parking lot.

This thing was massive, a size of a tractor trailer with its weight around 100,000 pounds. Though these datacenters are not very mobile, they are used for customers that may need additional computation power or has on-demand computing. I would think these are probably available to buy by a customer and possibly lease.

Here is the video of HP POD Tour that was given to us at HP Houston, TX facilities, quite an impressive setup. Unfortunately we were not able to go inside the POD, we took pictures and movies outside the POD.

The only thing that needs to be connected to these POD’s are electric connection for power and cooling. Additional resources would include network/fiber connections etc. Not just one POD, but you can have a warehouse full of POD’s used as datacenter.

These typically cost 60 to 70% of a regular brick built datacenter and is at least 40% more efficient.

Hope you enjoy the video…

Cheers

@storagenerve

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Disclaimer: This event is sponsored by HP and hosted in Houston, TX. HP paid all the flight, living and mostly food expenses. This is a bloggers – invitation only event. No products have been given by HP.

HP Blades Day 2010: Final Thoughts

March 3rd, 2010 1 comment

This is my 5th consecutive post on HP Blades day.  So far no videos have been uploaded, just the coverage of the event and pictures. This post primarily focuses on what I feel we saw at HP in terms of things that will help them, challenges in the market and where all this may go.

There has been at least 6 to 8 hours of video recording on my flip camera; starting tomorrow I will upload these videos only of the most interesting sessions on the blog.

Satellite View of HP Facilities in Houston, TX

The coverage of the event can also be found on Greg Knieriemen’s Infosmack Podcast on Storage Monkeys, here.

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Positives

This event was a very smart move by HP and as far as I can see they have exceeded their expectations with this event. Though I felt the twitter activity with HP Tech Day (Storage, #hptechday) was much higher than what we saw with this event HP Blades Day (Blades, #hpbladesday). Though the after discussions have taken over the blogging, twitter and the Internet press by surprise with the number of tweets, blogs and press articles written about this event.

Clearly for me this was a good platform to learn, understand and share some visions and technologies related to HP Blade products. I have been a storage focused individual, but only with a shallow knowledge of the blades architecture and infrastructure. This was a great event for myself to understand the depth of these products and take a deep dive into the interworking of converged infrastructure. An Event like this helps understand and connect the dots together with future products and emerging technologies. As this was a non-NDA event, we didn’t have preview to the next generation of HP Blade products.

One thing that is pretty visible and positive is that HP has managed to mobilize resources in the direction of integrating internal resources relating to converged infrastructure. Though its obvious and again visible that at places, they have not been able to fulfill that dream entirely.

There were some awkward moments where the engineering teams were asked to not do a deep-dive on other vendor technologies. The marketing folks spoke about some strategy related to these technologies and painted an overall picture. The mix of people involved with the presentations and demos seem to accomplish the agenda. Marketing pitches by social media and marketing teams along with engineering details by the architecture teams seemed to accomplish their goals.

The highlight of the sessions were a 45 min talk with the CTO of StorageWorks, Paul Perez and the competitive intelligence session that was hosted my Gary Thome and his team to compare HP Blades products with Dell, IBM and Cisco UCS. Discussions around CEE and Virtual Connect were pretty interesting.

HP emphasized the 250 million dollar investment with Microsoft over and over during the HP Blades Day. This proves that they value this partnership heavily and possibly have a roadmap associated in the future with great integration with Microsoft products.

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Challenges

HP emphasizes a lot on converged datacenters and the products it’s gearing for the next generation. But an integration vision from a convergence management was still lacking, a direction or a strategy on how these pieces of puzzle will be joined together and managed. HP clearly owns all the stacks of the next generation products, but again the orchestration and integration is one thing that is not very clear yet. Say too big and too much to manage!!!

With Networking products and the focus on Virtual Connect, HP seems to be moving in the right direction, but again when it comes to FCoE and CEE (Converged Enhanced Ethernet) the direction is pretty unknown. It’s sort of wait and watch as to where the market goes and drives demands, a lack of vision in real terms. HP clearly has a big competition from Cisco when it comes to the Networking stack.

With Storage products, HP clearly has a very big competition with already proven Vendors and their technologies like EMC, NetApp and IBM. Also technologies that are strong and emerging would largely cause market nuisance or focus disruption for HP.

With the Blade products, HP is a market leader, but truly considers Dell, IBM and Cisco as the biggest threats and sort of prepared to fight against it. Seems the next generation Rack and Blade products might seem to have a lot of integration with storage and networking.

The services story, with the acquisition of EDS, HP made a move in the right direction being the first in the market to do so. With the latest acquisitions from Dell of Perot Systems, from Oracle of SUN Microsystems and by Xerox of ACS, large vendors are all trying to fulfill the services gap. HP clearly has a big competition with IBM and Oracle in the space.

The VCE (VMware, Cisco, EMC) coalition: What are your thoughts. It’s pretty amazing to see HP not mention the word ‘cloud’ these two days. Focus has been virtualization and the partnership with VMware, but really no focus on moving toward utility market and integration of all next gen products for converged datacenters with the underlying virtualization layer. May be the Microsoft partnership may fulfill this.

VMware or Microsoft: They didn’t say this, but seems something is cooking. The partnership with Microsoft and the investment of 250 million dollars will create some friction with VMware, at least my guess. Next gen products may utilize Hyper-V as an underlying virtualization layer rather than using the default VMware Hypervisor.

HP still needs a very strong storage technology in the Enterprise space that is their own and not OEM’d. The truth is, eventually the HP – Hitachi relationship has to come to an end with HP’s new product that may compete in the same market space. This strategy will enable HP to be very unique in terms of the markets they serve, which may include their own in-house storage products for SMB, Midsize and Enterprise customers.

So other lacking things from HP were the Cloud Strategy (if they ever plan to enter that space), FCoE discussions, Procurve and Storage Management as it relates to Insight Software.

It may have been very hard to cover all these platforms in a day and a half with giving all the technology details behind it. Also remember this was a non-NDA session, so we were not preview to all the future products and technologies.

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Summary

Overall HP did hammer us for 2 consecutive days with HP Blades Technology. Coming out of it, I can truly say, HP had so much focus on datacenter convergence. Their move to hire Dave Donatelli was a smart one many of his strategic moves and direction in the ESSN (Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking) are pretty visible now.

Apart from GestaltIT Techfield Day, HP is still the only OEM to arrange Bloggers Invite Only Event. The ratio of Bloggers to HP Personnel was 1:2, giving everyone a lot of attention.

Now the question is who will be next OEM to do a similar event and what will they do to prove themselves different. Already hearing some buzz in the industry about some the effects of HP Blades Day and some possible events from other OEMs.

But I clearly see an advantage of an event like this and the after effects of it, good move HP Marketing Team! Along with Ivy Worldwide!!

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Disclaimer: This event is sponsored by HP and hosted in Houston, TX. HP paid all the flight, living and mostly food expenses. This is a bloggers – invitation only event. No products have been given by HP.

Symmetrix: The Journey of 20 Years

December 15th, 2009 6 comments

!! CHECK OUT THE VIDEO: Journey of the Symmetrix !!

So this year will mark the history of the Symmetrix products, 20 years since its inception and the Symmetrix has come long ways. Initially released in 1990, today’s Symmetrix does not come any close to what the product was 20 years ago. The underlying code (Enginuity) is what drives and gives the Symmetrix its personality.

Symmetrix was a compute / storage beast 20 years ago and so it is today.

This post includes the video “Journey of the Symmetrix”  (20 years in the making) created exclusively for this blog post.

To read more about the Symmetrix

Symmetrix Deepdive

Symmetrix product is considered a Flagship product and possibly has the largest share in the Enterprise Storage – Compute market today.

Here is a video I have put together showing my love for the Symmetrix Product. It starts with the Symm that was invented 20 years ago to this last generation Symmetrix V-Max.

Viewable in HD

Some other details on the Symmetrix include generation of the product, some facts, Enginuity code levels and model numbers.

The 8 Generations of Symmetrix

  • First Generation: 1990
  • Second Generation: 1992
  • Symmetrix 3.0: 1994
  • Symmetrix 4.0: 1996
  • Symmetrix 4.8: 1998
  • Symmetrix 5.0: 2000
  • Symmetrix 5.5: 2001
  • Symmetrix DMX (Generation 6.0): 2003
  • Symmetrix DMX-2 (Generation 6.5): 2004
  • Symmetrix DMX-3 (Generation 7.0): 2005
  • Symmetrix DMX-4 (Generation 7.5): 2007
  • Symmetrix V-Max (Generation 8.0): 2009

There are various models within each generation of the Symmetrix and these models have different characteristics. Follow the deepdive section to read more about it.

Some other facts of the Symmetrix include:

  • Introduced in 1990
  • 8th Generation Symmetrix available in the market today
  • 450 Patents
  • Introduction of the first every ICDA: Integrated Cache Disk array
  • First system to support both Mainframe and Open systems environment
  • SRDF Support introduced in 1994 (first in the market)
  • RSF Supported introduced in 1992 (first in the market)
  • BCV support introduced in 1997 (first in the market)
  • In-the-Box Tiering only offered through Symmetrix (DMX-4 onwards), can support FLASH, Fibre and SATA drives
  • Symmetrix (DMX-4) is worlds first PB enterprise system
  • Symmetrix (V-Max) is worlds first multi PB enterprise system
  • USD 3 Billion invested in Symmetrix Multi-vendor Interoperability Matrix support
  • 800 Speed Gurus supporting the Symmetrix Performance and configurations for optimizing environments.

Enginuity Code Levels

  • First Generation: Unknown
  • Second Generation: Unknown
  • Symmetrix 3.0: 50xx, 51xx
  • Symmetrix 4.0: 5265, 5266
  • Symmetrix 4.8: 5266, 5267
  • Symmetrix 5.0: 5567, 5568
  • Symmetrix 5.5: 5568
  • Symmetrix DMX (Generation 6.0): 5669, 5670, 5671
  • Symmetrix DMX-2 (Generation 6.5): 5670, 5671
  • Symmetrix DMX-3 (Generation 7.0): 5771, 5772
  • Symmetrix DMX-4 (Generation 7.5): 5772, 5773
  • Symmetrix V-Max (Generation 8.0): 5874

Symmetrix Models

  • First Generation: 4200
  • Second Generation: 4400, 4800
  • Symmetrix 3.0: 3100/5100, 3200/5200, 3500/5500
  • Symmetrix 4.0: 3330/5330, 3430/5430, 3700/5700
  • Symmetrix 4.8: 3630/5630, 3830/5830, 3930/5930
  • Symmetrix 5.0: 8130, 8430, 8730
  • Symmetrix 5.5: 8230, 8530, 8830
  • Symmetrix DMX (Generation 6.0): DMX800, DMX1000, DMX1000-P, DMX2000, DMX2000-P, DMX3000-3
  • Symmetrix DMX-2 (Generation 6.5): DMX801, DMX1000-M2, DMX1000-P2, DMX2000-M2, DMX2000-P2, DMX2000-M2-3, DMX3000-M2-3
  • Symmetrix DMX-3 (Generation 7.0): DMX3-950, DMX3
  • Symmetrix DMX-4 (Generation 7.5): DMX4-950, DMX4
  • Symmetrix V-Max (Generation 8.0): V-Max SE, V-Max

Disclaimers

I have not been awarded a free V-Max or DMX-4 for my basement. I do not personally own a V-Max or a DMX-4.

As you can see, this post shows my love for the Symmetrix technology and sort of my tribute to the 20 years of Symmetrix technology advancement.

FAST: Features, Drawbacks, Applications and some Questions

December 9th, 2009 4 comments

FAST (FULLY AUTOMATED STORAGE TIERING)

FAST made a debut in the storage market yesterday (12/08/09). Finally after the market buzz we got a preview of the product in terms of its features, functionality, characteristics, possible shortcomings and use cases.

This blog post focuses on the features, the drawbacks and some applications around FAST.  By no means is this a comprehensive or an exhaustive list of the above.

After all, FAST makes a debut, (The previous post on FAST).

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Imagine the possibilities of FAST with this infrastructure

Imagine the possibilities of FAST with this infrastructure

NOTE: Out of the box thinking by EMC, imagine the flexibility one would have with a large infrastructure and FAST moving data based on policy. Its all about the big picture.

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Here are some features, highlights of FAST and how it operates.

  • FAST will perform data movement based on IOPS, average I/O size and write percentage. This is currently true for the Symmetrix V-Max, Clariion CX4 and Celerra NS.
  • Three elements that define FAST: Storage Type, FAST policies and Storage Groups.
  • FAST is based on user defined – configuration policies.
  • The configuration of FAST is typically done through FAST wizards (Symmetrix Management Console) on Symmetrix V-Max, FAST LUN Migrator for Clariion CX4 and Rainfinity File Management Appliance or VE for Celerra NS.

How Fast works 1

..How Fast works 2..

How fast works 3..

Screen shot 2009-12-08 at 5.13.31 PM..

  • User defined analysis period for FAST. That will enable FAST to recommend or perform data analysis and then a data move based on policy.
  • FAST created policies will associate with Storage Groups.
  • FAST policies will be configurable at a LUN / drive / drive type / speed etc level.
  • Data movement will take place based on a time of the date policy called “COLD” move or on usage policy called “HOT” move.
  • Data movement will take place between various drive types, various LUN types and LUN sizes. (LUN types, LUN sizes will need to be same for the source and destination LUNs). For example a 9GB FBA LUN being migrated from Fibre to FLASH will need similar source and destination LUN properties.
  • FAST data analysis will be performed in the background.
  • For Symmetrix V-Max platform FAST will perform all analysis without the use of Symmetrix Performance Analyzer. Understanding is there will be some sort of API plugin available on the Service Processor of the V-Max that will enable Symmetrix Management Console (FAST plugin) to interface with the Symmetrix through the SYMAPI interface.
  • For Clariions, the performance data of the array will be monitored and collected by Navisphere Analyzer.
  • Based on the source LUN analysis, FAST will recommend the user to move the data either a faster speed drives or a slower speed drives.
  • FAST will enable roll back based on user preferences (automated).
  • FAST will be configurable by Symmetrix Management console wizards or SYMCLI
  • FAST configurable by Clariion Naviseccli and installed on a host connected to Clariion, Host software called FAST LUN Migrator.
  • FAST configurable by Rainfinity File Management Appliance GUI or CLI for Celerra NS “out-of-box data” movement. This enables the Celerra to move data to another Celerra or Centera or Atmos.
  • FAST configurable by Rainfinity File Management / VE (Virtual Appliance) for Celerra NS “in-the-box” data movement.
  • FAST can be installed non-disruptively on all platforms.
  • FAST will operate both at an FBA and CKD level supporting open systems and mainframes for V-Max.
  • FAST will operate at a LUN level on Symmetrix V-Max
  • FAST will operate at a LUN level on Clariion CX4
  • FAST will operate at a file level on Celerra NS
  • FAST v1 users will be able to purchase a FAST v2 upgrade when it’s released in second half of 2010.
  • FAST can be purchased as a FAST suite or part of an ATSM (Advanced Tiering Storage Management) suite with bundled discounting prices.
  • For a unified storage system like a front end NAS (Celerra) with a backend SAN (Clariion), FAST can coexists at both levels. But it is not recommended to deploy FAST at a Celerra LUN level.
  • FAST integrates with Symmetrix Management Console and with Rainfinity GUI (Celerra) for simple management. Though Clariion implementation will need one to specialize in CLI.

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FAST data movement on supported platforms (Symmetrix V-Max, Clariion CX4 and Celerra NS).

Symmetrix V-Max Data Movement

Symmetrix V-Max Data Movement

Clariion CX4 Data Movement

Clariion CX4 Data Movement

Celerra in the box data movement

Celerra in the box data movement

Celerra in the box and out of box data movement

Celerra in the box and out of box data movement

FAST introduction by EMC

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FAST Drawbacks

Here are some drawbacks of FAST as I see it today.

  • Does not support Virtual provisioning. So the Virtual provisioned LUNs will not be FAST enabled. Sub-LUN expected in second half of 2010
  • FAST is not free and is charged based on RAW CAPACITY of the Storage Array.
  • FAST will only work with similar LUN types (example FBA LUNs can be migrated to FBA) and LUN sizes (9GB LUN can be migrated to a 9GB LUN) only.
  • FAST will require Professional Services and is not recommended for customer self implementation at least for the Clariion and the Celerra platforms. EMC is making a claim that FAST can be self provisioned on the Symmetrix V-Max platform.
  • FAST works only on current generation systems like EMC V-Max Enginuity 5874, Clariion CX4 Release 29 and Celerra NS.
  • With Clariion CX4 and FAST implementation, requirement is to have Navisphere Analyzer.
  • With Celerra NS and FAST implementation, requirement is to have Rainfinity File Management /VE or Appliance.
  • With Symmetrix V-Max FAST implementation, requirement is to have Symmetrix Management Console (Not free any more starting with the V-Max)
  • For the Clariions, FAST only analyzes Fibre drives and LUN movement has to initiate from Fibre channel to FLASH or Fibre channel to SATA drives only. Movement from FLASH to Fibre or SATA to Fibre has to be initiated manually.
  • A customer implementing Virtual Provisioning on Clariion CX4 and Symmetrix V-Max that is using 50% Thick Provisioning and 50% Virtual Provisioning. FAST will not work with Virtual Provisioned LUNs. But the customer will probably pay for 100% of Storage Raw Capacity when it comes to paying for FAST either non-bundled or bundled in an ATSM (Advanced Tiering Storage Management).
  • FAST does not support IBM System I platform currently.

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Some real world FAST applications

vBlock

vBlock

  • Acadia Service Model can now add granularity with offerings around on-demand resources using FAST at its core.
  • On Demand application and workload needs can be met for OLTP, Data Warehousing, Mainframe compute and Virtual compute using FAST driven policies.
  • Multi-tenancy with Private Clouds
  • Move high demand data on faster drives while rarely used data goes on slower drives.
  • Sell ITaaS based on SLA’s. Higher SLA’s can mean higher price. All automated processes controlled by policy.
  • Higher transactions typically mean low overall cost; mean higher efficiency means higher profits all achievable through FAST policy engine.

Need to see some real world implementations of FAST now. In theory and on paper, FAST looks pretty compelling but practically will it do the magic.

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Some unanswered questions today

  • How does it prevent from LUNs jumping between Fiber, FLASH and SATA if the application has un-expected performance that day?
  • Manageability of FAST interfaces.
  • Usability of FAST interfaces.
  • Granular configuration policies associated with analysis.
  • Future upgrades.
  • Current implementations and how long and how effective are those.
  • Can you improve performance without using SSD’s. Example with Fibre and SATA drives only.
  • With future upgrades from FAST v1 to FAST v2 what happens with current user defined policies.
  • Would Symcli scripts change with FAST implementation?
  • During lockout periods (Where Symmetrix configuration cannot change, eg before a BIN file change) would FAST still operate.

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FAST is a bit of a new subject for me. Any experts please feel free to correct me if my understanding of FAST is incorrect at any level.

Stay tuned for a series of FAST posts over the next few days talking about various topics and how FAST plays within those areas.