Archive for the ‘Storage’ Category

Compellent Storage Center 5 – Introduced

January 11th, 2010 6 comments

Compellent is introducing the new Storage Center 5 today (11th Jan, 2010). Some highlights of this announcement are: Dynamic Storage Architecture for Disaster Recovery, Automated Storage Tiering and Ease of Management for Virtual Data Centers.

Recently EMC introduced FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) for its Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra products. Compellent has been the market leader in the offerings around Automated Storage Tiering, which it introduced around 3 years ago.

Some granular highlights of the new Storage Center 5 are:

Portable Volume Replication: Data gets replicated to a portable external drive, encrypted and shipped to a remote site for disaster recovery purposes. Mounted through USB ports.

Scalable SAS Storage: Using Storage Center 5 now customers can scale their Compellent Storage from 6 drives to 384 drives in the same unit (serial number) and using the existing enclosures.

Automated Tiered Storage for RAID 6: All data is written to RAID10 devices and then using Automated Storage Tiering, the least active portions of the data is migrated to RAID6.

Virtual Ports: Addition of virtual ports through shared physical ports will allow the customers to reduce the active number of ports on a Compellent unit and the associated switches by 50%, these ports would be able to move through physical connections and can be shared. Support for both FC and iSCSI will be available with Virtual Ports.

Server Mapping: Automation of virtual server deployment with clusters for thin provisioned volumes, which will enable addition and removal of any servers any time without an outage, enables automated multi-pathing.

Introduction of Consistency Groups: Data recovery of applications, using snapshots.

Compellent Storage Center 5

Some Drawbacks of this announcement seem to be:

Portable Volume Replication: It is probably hard to understand why customers would replicate or copy data to portable volumes and then spend money to ship the drives to a remote site. May be agreeable with slow replication links, it may take weeks to replicate all the data, but is this best way to replicate data with shipping disk drives (portable volumes). Why not just replicate data directly to a remote site with a bit of high bandwidth connection. No way is this CDP (Continuous Data Protection).

Scalability: To reduce footprint, easy manageability of data and ever growing customer demands related to data, would a 384-drive system accomplish the scalability issue?

Cost: Even though Automated Storage Tiering is a big selling point within Compellent Architecture, the product has additional licensing cost compared to a base unit. Compellent should try to make the automated storage tiering feature an included feature with all its new generation products.

Seems like Compellent solution is sort of targeted for mid-tier markets, competing with the EMC Clariions, NetApp FAS series, HP EVA’s systems. It doesn’t seem like these units will be able to withstand the brutal I/O requirements of Enterprise class storage. May be my understanding of the Compellent architecture is not so deep.

Though it is worth noting that Compellent is a very strong growing company with last 16 positive growth quarters, +1B Market Cap and around 1700 customers in 35 countries.

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


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 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).


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.



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.



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



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.



Some real world FAST applications



  • 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.



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.


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.

After all, FAST makes a debut

December 8th, 2009 4 comments

So EMC has proved critics like me wrong and have introduced EMC FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) as an offering in Dec 2009. There were many skeptics like me that saw this product release being stalled because of various reasons, here.

FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering)

FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering)

Truly this was one of the most awaited products of 2009 from EMC after the initial announcement by EMC back in April 2009 along with the release of Symmetrix V-Max.

I have dedicated a separate deep-dive section for EMC FAST on the StorageNerve Blog, here

Along with FAST, EMC has also introduced some new enhancements to the EMC Symmetrix V-Max, Clariion CX4 and Celerra NS platforms. Currently FAST will be available on the above 3 platforms at debut and will provide automated storage tiering “in-the-box” for Symmetrix V-Max, “in-the-box” for Clariion CX4 and “out-of-box” for Celerra NS platforms.

As expected EMC has not made this feature free but rather offers a pricing model based on bundled software. FAST will be an available feature within ATSM: Advanced Tiering Storage Management bundle and will be charged based on RAW Capacity of the Array (Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra)

FAST will not be supported on EMC DMX-4 and Clariion CX3. In essence FAST is only compatible with EMC Symmetrix V-Max Enginuity Microcode and Clariion CX4 Flarecode Release 29.

FAST is a software only feature and integrates with existing hardware / software on the associated platforms.

The following are some of the features FAST will support at GA on the EMC Symmetrix V-Max, Clariion CX4 and Celerra NS platforms.

EMC Symmetrix V-Max

Symmetrix V-Max Data Movement

Symmetrix V-Max Data Movement

  • Volume / LUN based data movement (Automated Storage Tiering) for open systems and CKD – mainframe volumes.
  • Management of FAST through Symmetrix Management Console or SymCLI
  • Data Movement can be accomplished between FLASH, fibre channel and SATA drives within the V-Max platform. Data can move in any direction and on any type of the drives based on policy.
  • Data movement within a single frame or serial number only.
  • FAST suite can be purchased as a standalone software suite but will be available at a discounted price based on a bundled option with Symmetrix Optimizer, DCP: Dynamic Cache Partitioning and SPC: Symmetrix Priority Controls.
  • Symmetrix Performance Analyzer will be required for FAST to operate on Symmetrix V-Max platform. (Based on the comment from Barry Burke below, Symmetrix Performance Analyzer is not required for FAST to operate on the Symmetrix V-Max platform.

EMC Clariion CX4

Clariion CX4 Data Movement

Clariion CX4 Data Movement

  • LUN based data movement (Automated Storage Tiering)
  • Management of FAST will be enabled through CLI only. Not supported as an integrated part of Navisphere today.
  • Will work with Flarecode Release 29 (Clariion CX4) only.
  • Unlike the Symmetrix, the automated data movement will only be supported between fibre channel drives to FLASH or fibre channel drives to SATA. There is no automation related to data movement from FLASH to fibre channel or FLASH to SATA or SATA to FLASH or SATA to fibre Channel drives.
  • Data movement within a single frame or serial number only.
  • FAST suite can be purchased as a standalone software suite but will be available at a discounted price based on bundled option with Navisphere Analyzer and NQSM: Navisphere Quality Service Manager.
  • Navisphere Analyzer is required for FAST to operate.

EMC Celerra platform

Celerra in the box data movement

Celerra in the box data movement

Celerra in the box and out of box data movement

Celerra out of box data movement

  • File based data movement (Automated Storage Tiering)
  • Management of FAST can be accomplished through Rainfinity file management appliance GUI or CLI. Customers also have an option to purchase Rainfinity File management/VE (Virtual Appliance), which has some limitations.
  • Data movement can be enabled to another tier “in-the-box” or to another Celerra or Centera or Atmos.
  • Celerra FAST is most interesting as it enables out the system data movement, like to another Celerra or Centera or Atmos.
  • FAST suite can be purchased as a standalone software suite but will be available at a discounted price based on a bundled option with Rainfinity File Management Appliance or Rainfinity File Management /VE.

Based on EMC heat index charts, a before and after picture of a FAST implementation would look like this.

FAST Implementation

FAST Implementation

A FAST implementation video

Here is a post, back from August 2009 on Gestalt IT describing how EMC’s Unified Storage vision and federation may work. It is good to see, some of those things come to fruition now, and at least FAST with Celerra proves it.

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