Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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.

FAST, miles and miles away!!!

December 3rd, 2009 9 comments

Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST)

Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST)

April 2009, that is when we heard about FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering). The hype around FAST is now built; we have all seen a 2 min demo of the product at Vmworld 2009. The industry, the analysts, the bloggers and EMC are all talking about it. EMC has promised this will be an exciting product and could help better integrate and federate EMC products of the future.

But, where is FAST today?

Initially FAST v1 was set to release late Q3 or early Q4. We are almost at the end of Q4. The announcement of FAST came in April 2009 with the release of EMC Symmetrix V-Max systems. The product was announced pre GA. Here is a blog post by Barry Burke (FAST: Fully Automated Storage Tiering) indicating a Q4 release date, but after all FAST is nowhere to be found.

It seems FAST probably got shuffled somewhere in the scheduling, product marketing, technology design and development or ?. A product talked about, written about but rather un-visible at this point. Here is a blog post from Chuck Hollis (Peering into the Storage Crystal Ball) indicating FAST v1 may now not be available until early 2010.

With a 2010 GA date, FAST will be a 9 to 11 month early announcement product technology that was sold and is being sold with the V-Max without an actual product.

FAST v1 will be available for the Symmetrix V-Max platform and then eventually for the Clariion and Celerra platforms. FAST v2 is due to be released in late Q2 2010.

Is EMC trying to bring some additional functionality from FAST v2 to FAST v1 since current test customers are probably not excited about FAST v1. It seems everyone in the industry is looking forward to FAST v2 and the features it may bring together with it. At this point, there is really a lack of excitement around FAST v1. Is FAST in any sort of legal battle today, which is causing additional delays, Chris Evans at The Storage Architect Blog has discussed the topic in the past.

At this point is FAST v1 something that should eventually be combined with FAST v2 before GA. Question remains, do we really need FAST v1 at this stage or can we wait for FAST v2. Will organizations skip the implementation of FAST v1 and directly go to FAST v2. Is the product being delayed intentionally, so the gap between FAST v1 and FAST v2 implementation becomes narrow and customers can rather jump to FAST v2 without FAST v1.

Well anyways, FAST is now over-over-due, 8 months into the announcement, but no product. Along with FAST v1 in early 2010, we will see a new version of Enginuity Code for the Symmetrix V-Max and some other expected enhancements around V-Max.



Some interesting links to dig more about FAST technology and its functionality.

Note: The dates in this blog post are totally based on announcements happened so far and future time lines are based on some industry buzz around FAST. Its impossible to know the exact dates of any product releases without an NDA.

Drobo Performance Stats

December 1st, 2009 10 comments

Some discussions on twitter last week triggered the topic of performance relating to the Drobo’s. This is the 5th consecutive post on Drobo Series of products.

To read other Drobo related posts:

Drobo S and DroboElite – Introduced 11/23/2009

Some very interesting articles on Drobo S and DroboElite

The Drobo Math

I totally love my Drobo but


Here are some performance stats collected with running Drobo as a direct attached storage and using some benchmarking tools to compile these results.  All the performance stats are collected using different criteria’s that can affect the performance of the Drobo. Also used various connection methods including USB and Firewire to obtain these stats.

The entire series of tests have been performed using Mac OSX 10.6.2 host with either USB attached or Firewire attached to the Drobo.

These results are limited to the Drobo and cannot be compared to the Drobo Pro or Drobo Elite or Drobo S.

The test were carried out with using various combination of drives, rebuilt data protection, best-case scenario, worst-case scenario, 1 drive, 2 drives, 4 drives, different drive cache & capacity.

Drobo Stats


I totally love my Drobo but….

November 25th, 2009 3 comments

I totally love my Drobo but….I have to honestly say, its missing some key features…

So over the past two days, I have covered the Drobo technology pretty extensively, all the way from the introduction of the 2 new Drobo’s to what the technology offers today, configuration, setup, overhead, data protection, etc.

There is a collaborative effort ongoing behind the scenes with the GestaltIT Tech Field Day Delegates working on some BeyondRAID technology blog posts.

Here are the previous blog posts on Drobo Technology….

Drobo S and DroboElite – Introduced 11/23/2009

Some very interesting articles on Drobo S and DroboElite

The Drobo Math


Drobo_5bay_Right Front

Though I think the Drobo technology (BeyondRAID) is a pretty solid offering in the industry today, there are some very features that at least the Drobo and Drobo S are missing today.

Note: This is not a comparison of the Drobo to any other industry products, but certainly some items mentioned below would help further drive the value of the Drobo from a consumer’s viewpoint.

  • Enable NAS support (Ethernet). A very important feature that is missing today related to the NAS offerings, a ton of new features could be easily introduced in the Drobo if it was NAS enabled.
  • Drobo manageable through the Ethernet
  • Drobo and the data on the Drobo should be password protected
  • Support for iSCSI
  • Multiple host access, with multiple user access for NAS.
  • File shares based on usernames and passwords.
  • Haven’t yet tried this, but connect a Drobo or a Drobo S behind an Iomega Ix4-200d or a Synology NAS device to natively use the features supported within those devices and use the Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology in the backend.
  • Built in FTP Server
  • Built in Photo Sharing
  • Built in iTunes Library
  • Built in internal mail server (not a must have, but good to have feature)
  • Built in web server for web hosting
  • NAS Shares
  • Active Directory authentication for users on the Drobo
  • Some sort of high-speed expansion to connect between multiple Drobo’s using a 1GB interface or higher, in short some sort of expandable Drobo daisy chain.
  • USB Printer connection
  • Spin down drives if no activity
  • Spin down fans if no activity
  • Spin down and spin up the Drobo based on time of the day
  • Some sort of interface to view activity inside the Drobo related to memory, CPU and other components.
  • Safe eject drives before drive replacements or drive upgrades
  • Some sort of integration with various media appliances from a household including playstation, TiVo, live streaming that would enable data sharing between these devices.

I understand the value Drobo and Drobo S brings on the table with the BeyondRAID technology, but to compete in the consumer (home) market, a device can’t just be a single standalone device and not talk to any other devices in the environment.

We are collecting data at an enormous pace today, but as I say, “We are” indeed means a group of individuals, family, friends. There is just no way to collaborate on the collected data without physically moving the Drobo from place to place and computer to computer for data share.

I totally get the picture of what the Drobo and Drobo S brings on the table, but if I have to spend $800 or around that number to buy a storage unit, I absolutely think it should talk to and share my data between multiple computers, users, appliances, gadgets I have in the household.

There is only one option I can think that would enable NAS data share, which is to use the Drobo behind a DroboShare or a traditional NAS.. Though not sure if it loses any of it’s features by doing so. This option will cost you additional money.

DroboPro / DroboElite

Lets talk a bit about the DroboPro and DroboElite. These products are made for SMB space. They offer great features including having 2 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet, iSCSI support, VMware support, 16 host, 255 smart volumes, etc. The price on the DroboPro / DroboElite is way beyond what a consumer (home) will spend for data storage.

DroboElite Front

Though here is a short list of items I think the DroboPro and DroboElite should have.

  • Removable back-panel to replace power supplies without turning the unit offline.
  • Online replacement of any FRU’s.
  • Redundant power supplies.
  • DroboPro / DroboElite manageable through the Ethernet
  • DroboPro / DroboElite and the data on the unit should be password protected
  • Multiple user access to NAS Shares
  • Active Directory integration for user authentication
  • Built in FTP Server
  • Built in internal mail server
  • Built in web server for web hosting
  • Spin down drives with no activity
  • Spin down fans with no activity
  • At least support 15 drives.
  • Expandable to may be 30 drives through some sort of high-speed bus/loop/port connect.
  • SCSI 3 PGR’s
  • Some sort of management interface to better manage the components, processes, activities, CPU, memory, stats (Read/Write I/O), port stats, etc through this interface
  • Safe eject drives before drive replacements or drive upgrades.

Again the argument stays that the DroboPro and DroboElite offers great technology, plug and play features, VMware compatibility, lower cost and BeyondRAID technology, but are those the only features that I am truly looking from a SAN.

One thing I have learned, it’s hard to survive in the home (consumer) market and SMB space with the same product name. At times its better to have two distinct products one defined for consumer market while the other for the SMB space. The product can still be the same product under-the-hood but with different processing powers and different product names.

Just some thoughts!! IMHO