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Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7

April 27th, 2009 No comments

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The Technical Case

Continuing the blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA), this post focuses on the technical case on why analysis of your storage platforms is important and how it might help you discover inconsistencies in storage environments.

 

To read the previous blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA)

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 1: Storage Resource Analysis and Storage Economics

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 2: The IT – Storage World of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3: The IT – Storage Budgets of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 4: Some Fundamental Questions

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 5: Facts about your Data

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6: Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7: The Technical Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 8: The Business Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9: The End Result

 

From a technology standpoint, it’s very important to understand what Storage Analysis will do and how it might overall bring more value, efficiencies and utilization in your environments. To talk about a few technical issues it might help you understand are..

1)      How much headroom (total possible growth) we have in our storage environment (drilldown array, lun)

2)      How much reclaimable storage do we have in our environment (drilldown array, lun)

3)      How much immediate deployable storage do we have in our storage environment (drilldown where)

4)      Can we predict capacity planning and future growth

5)      The information obtained above should be as of today, not something you started working about 3 months ago.

6)      In large volatile storage environments, things are changing every second, it hard to keep a track of your storage configurations, relationships, headroom, capacity, reclamation.

7)      Are you maintaining spreadsheets or access databases to keep a track of your applications, application owners, wwn, servers, zones, etc. You need to consider something soon.

8 )      Do you enforce Tiering in our environment, how much data do we have based on each tier.

9)      Do we follow ILM approach, how much data needs to be migrated over to different tiers based on business needs and rules (we should see FAST later this year that should automate the process on V-Max)

10)   Do we have any configuration issues in our environments that have caused major storage outages (single path host, multipath host with only one path active, LUN masking issues, zoning issues, BCV issues, other configuration issues)

11)   How many times in the past 6 months have we had a major application outage and what caused it (how much penalties did we pay for those – OPEX dollars).

12)   If we follow any compliance (SEC, Sarbanes Oxley, HIPPA, etc), is our data complaint in terms of replication, policies, etc

13)   Do we have any manual processes for charge backs and bill backs, if so, what can we do to automate it.

14)   Do we know how the LUN’s in our environment are setup and the relationships it has with LUN’s on other arrays in terms of replication, BCV, Snaps, Clones, SRDF, etc.

15)   Do we know how the storage is growing in our environment: Trend Analysis

16)   What sorts of report are available to you for the analysis you are performing.

17)   Be careful to not just obtain a nice topology diagram of what is connected where, but being able to drill down real time to obtain LUN level details is important.

18)   With any storage analysis product, how much work is involved, How much training, How much training related cost, ease of use, number of users, detailed drill down, how easy would it be to analyze your environment, etc needs to be understood before the project starts.

19)   Do we have a Storage Economics Practice setup within our Storage environment to consistently increase our utilization, efficiency, reclamation and lower our outages & cost.

 

Experience

We had a conference call with a potential customer late last week about our storage offerings. This is a large insurance company that has acquired quite a few different companies over the past 5 years and are growing and currently going through data center consolidation projects.

During the call, we asked what they were doing for reclamation and other storage economics. To my surprise, they answered, we had purchased an OEM based Operational Software about 5 years ago and we didn’t like it, there are different people within the organization that still use it, but it’s not giving us the required results we want, more or less its used for alerts.

Now we have just purchased and going through an implementation of another OEM’s Operational Software for data reclamation, analysis and monitoring. The customer goes ahead and says, we have been trying to implement this software within our environment for the past 4 months now.

The point I am trying to make is, whatever these deployments are, they have to be easy enough, cost effective, not time and resource consuming, not consume your CAPEX dollars and not spend you OPEX dollars (training, implementation, outages).

It has to be light weight, easily deployable, should yield results in a short duration of time (hours or days rather than months), but still should be able to analyze your environment at a very detailed level.

 

What are you using today to manage your several hundred TB or an enormously large double digit PB storage estate?

Administrative Post and some Symmetrix V-Max discussions

April 26th, 2009 No comments

The past couple of weeks have been very busy for me related to work. Saw tons of announcements come out from EMC, VMware, Oracle, Sun, etc. My reading on those articles only made it to the headlines and a few paragraphs thereafter.
 

Today was a good day to catch up on all the blog readings. I have in excess to about 50 blogs I subscribe to. It has been very hard to read all the posts over the last two weeks. But today caught up on about 110 various blog posts from different storage / virtualization industry bloggers. 9 hours of nonstop reading.
 

Earlier this month, I changed my blogging platform from Blogger to Word Press. During the change, lost about 40% of the readers subscribed (feeds) to the blog.

To subscribe to StorageNerve Blog http://feeds2.feedburner.com/DataStorageProfessionals-Wiki

Read a bit about ORACLE-SUN, I am still confused about the entire bid, but Steve Duplessie did put a nice twist to the Sun purchase by Oracle, here…

Now to jump into V-Max……..read all blog posts from The Storage Anarchist, StorageZilla, Chuck Hollis, Chad Sakac, Powerlink and EMC V-Max page. Just amazing storage-techno stuff to read, I have committed to another 20 hours of faithful reading this week on the V-Max architecture and then write some blog post about it.
 

One thing I noticed with the V-Max blog post, every EMC blogger has been quite humble talking about the technology. On the other side, quite offensive stuff flying around from HDS and NetApp about the V-Max. Sorry I haven’t read any comments on any of the post, so can’t make a complete judgment.
 

I am sure you have read about the latest EMC announcement on V-Max, here is where you will find all the info…..
 

Technical Post / Articles

The Storage Anarchist

StorageZilla

Chad Sakac (VMware/EMC/Cisco)

Powerlink

EMC V-Max Landing Page

 

Technology

Chuck Hollis

Dave Graham

Some independent Bloggers have done a great job to overall summarize the Symmetrix V-Max announcement, here as referenced by Barry Burke.

 

Sometime in Feb 2009, I had written a blog post about expectations with EMC DMX next generation technology.

Did come quite close to predicting what the new set of architecture would look like, including Directors, Cache, IOPS, Drives types, Release dates, Cost offerings, GA enginuity code, Scalable Architectures, Controller Consolidation to include local memory, processor speed, EFD sizes, SMC console and associated Symapi, SMC friendless (templates, wizards), new conceptual design of mirror positions, virtual provisioning, power savings, Ethernet based connectivity to V-Max Service Processor, VMware Native Integration, Support for various RAID types that would enhance the product, policy based work flow automation, some support for FCOE in the future and a radical design change.
 

Things where I went wrong, the possible model numbers included DMX, Disk drive physical size (2.5 inch), PowerPC chip, no bin file, global memory, 8GB I/O interface, native support for Deduplication (I am sure you can stick a Celerra in front of a V-Max and achieve it).
 

Looking at the current GA Symmetrix V-Max product, I really did not expect the technology to go as far as EMC has managed to take it.
 

But that said a lot of hype has been around the V-Max architecture itself. One of the marketing buzz words is around scalability with hundreds of V-Max engines, 1000’s of TB’s of data, etc. At current GA, the product is scalable to 8 V-Max engines supporting 2 PB of storage and 2400 disk drives. EMC has been successful atleast in the first phase to sell the V-Max technology. With the current GA you are buying a future technology, not a technology that is currently in the product. Still not sure and haven’t been able to read on how the Virtual Matrix will connect the Physical V-Max Engines as they will span across geographies or even through larger datacenters.
 

Talking to various different customers over storage and storage technology, everyone feels pretty comfortable talking about HDS AMS, HDS USP-V, EMC Clariion, Compellent, Pillar Data and 3Par, but I still see customers struggling to talk about Symmetrix DMX, DMX-2, DMX-3 and the DMX-4 from a management and usability perspective. Will the V-Max change it all?
 

I would highly recommend a trip if you can to go to EMC World 2009. It will be great to see the V-Max in action along with the latest Celerra, CX4’s, Atmos, Cisco UCS and V-Sphere.

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6

March 27th, 2009 No comments

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Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Continuing the blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA), this post focuses on some facts about what causes and what are inconsistencies in storage environments.
 

To read the previous blog posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA)

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 1: Storage Resource Analysis and Storage Economics

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 2: The IT – Storage World of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3: The IT – Storage Budgets of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 4:Some Fundamental Questions

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 5:Facts about your Data

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6: Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7: The Technical Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 8: The Business Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9: The End Result

 

To talk about a few inconsistencies that exist in the volatile storage environments, here is a subset of them, later in the post we will talk about what causes these inconsistencies.

o   Host masking to non existing LUNs
o   Host masking to invalid LUNs
o   Multipathing inconsistency with Hostmodes
o   Split BCV’s with no increments
o   BCV is smaller than Source devices
o   Source is smaller than BCV devices
o   Administratively fractured Clone copy, data integrity issues
o   Unallocated BCV to LUN
o   Host masked to LUN and LUN non mapped to path
o   LUN mapped to path and not masked to host
o   Single path host
o   Replication split
o   Replication failover
o   Replication Sync
o   R1 and R2 LUN to with improper host attachments
o   BCV never established
o   BCV Split
o   BCV Sync
o   BCV Mirroring
o   Empty disk drive slots
o   Disk drives installed but not used or configured
o   Physical Disk space (unused disk drive space)
o   LUN unallocated
o   Ungrouped disk
 

The above storage inconsistencies are pretty common with large environments and with multisite replication enabled. Also without a proper storage management tool, these errors are very likely to exist in any storage environment.

What causes these above set of issues; let’s talk about a few primary related reasons

o   Human error
o   Incorrect planning and implementation
o   Lack of Storage Strategy
o   Lack of Training
o   Lack of Reclamation Strategy
o   Storage Consolidation projects
o   Host migration projects
o   Host retirement or scrapped projects
o   Lack of Storage management
o   Operational Oversight
o   Undocumented planning and procedures
 

Experience

Just spoke to a potential customer last week. During a conference call we asked them, what are some of the major issues they are seeing in their storage environment? They have two Storage tools they use for operational and management purposes to handle a large double digit PB storage environment.

The answer from one of the architects was, we know of a lot of issues in our environment, but we have priorities around other things happening in the environment and cannot focus on these operational day to day non trivial issues.

With a large environment like the above to manage, a storage reclamation exercise can help a customer reclaim storage in terms of PB’s and could convert into immediate ROI, ROA and reduction in CapEx / OpEx that would help the organization save millions of dollars in new storage acquisitions. The question remains, are those our priorities today?

Do you have any of the above issues in your storage environment, or are you aware of them yet? 

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3

March 26th, 2009 No comments

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The IT Budgets of 2009

Continuing my posts on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA) and Storage Economics, this one focuses on the facts of IT Budgets of 2009.
 

To read the previous post on Storage Resource Analysis (SRA)

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 1 Storage Resource Analysis & Storage Economics

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 2 The IT – Storage World of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 3: The IT – Storage Budgets of 2009

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 4: Some Fundamental Questions

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 5: Facts about your Data

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 6: Inconsistencies in Storage Environments

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 7: The Technical Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 8: The Business Case

Storage Resource Analysis (SRA): Part 9: The End Result

 

To list some very important items & agenda’s related to IT – Storage Budgets of 2009 are

 

  • Ø  Direct Impact Cost

o   Reducing Total Cost of Ownership

o   Reducing CapEx

o   Reducing OpEx

o   Storage Segment outsourcing

o   Reduce Cost of After Warranty Support

o   Reduction in Power Consumption

o   Reduction in Storage Management

o   Meeting SLA’s resulting in reduction in Penalties

  

 

  • Ø  Hidden Savings

o   Storage Virtualization

o   Increase Utilization & Efficiency

o   Storage Reclamation & Optimization

o   Redeploying unused storage

o   Trend Analysis and Forecasting

o   Unnecessary licensing cost for storage management software

o   Reduction in Floor Space

o   Centralized Storage

o   Storage Consolidation

o   Automation

o   Investment into long lasting technology

o   Planning resulting in future growth without heavy cost impact

o   Tiering using ILM approach

o   Green Data Center

 

Should I mention, “DO MORE WITH LESS”, the beaten up concept of 2009.

And the important aspect is how do you manage to achieve all of the above while your databases are growing, your file systems are growing and you do not have a luxury to spend any additional dollars this year?


Experience

Recently I had a chance to talk to a CIO from a Fortune 1000 customer, and during the conversation with him, we asked him about what the primary objectives he has for his organization related to Storage.

Some of the things he mentioned were increasing efficiency and utilization within his storage environments, reducing his OpEx with automation and consolidation, reducing his CapEx with leveraging his IT assets on the floor for 3 additional years after warranty and try to centralize the entire storage throughout all business groups for better management and OpEx/CapEx reduction.

 

Well, let’s move on to the next topic…….

What have you or the top management done in your organization to meet the IT – Storage budgets of 2009?