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Storage Optimization

July 24th, 2009 No comments

Well the first question: What is Storage Optimization?

A lot of new storage technologies are up and coming that have either Storage Virtualization or Thin Provisioning built as its core value. Those technologies can help run your storage in a much efficient manner, but what are your options related to your existing infrastructure that may consist of EMC Symmetrix DMX & above, EMC Clariion CX & above, NetApp FAS series, NetApp G Series, NetApp V Series, HDS USP, HDS USPV, HDS AMS, IBM DS Series, HP Eva’s, LSI’s, SUN branded LSI’s, etc. I am not suggesting if you are running Storage Virtualization or Thin Provisioning you are running at 90 or 100 percent efficiency, there are still places where these technologies start building inefficiencies as your storage environment starts to mature.

The point I am trying to make is, what have you done last to optimize your Storage Environment. Over the past year, I have met a lot of customers including IT IT Planning folks, CIO organizations, IT Directors, Storage Managers, Storage Engineers where all these folks work so hard to maintain and manage IT Assets on the floor including Storage environments. A Storage Engineer is always busy trying to keep up with new projects, migrations, consolidations, etc. In the race of life to get promotion at work, make managers happy, keeping up with new technology & projects, we all forget about things we decided to do yesterday or rather the day you joined the organization.

When was the last time you thought about reducing your organizations OpEx and CapEx. When was the last time, you took your organization through a Storage Optimization exercise. Have you setup a Storage Economics practice within your Storage environments that would help you reclaim stranded storage, help you re-tier your storage based on business needs, help you increase utilization and reduce inefficiencies within your Storage Environments.

Responses we get talking to various Storage folks, we try to do the best we can to keep up with the day to day storage needs, and we went through an exercise to optimize our environment about 12 months ago.

Wait a minute, 12 months ago? Each wasted month is a savings lost.

In my previous blog posts, I have addressed some very fundamental issues related to Storage Environments that can help you achieve the necessary goals you might have for your organization.


Please see the related blog post below that show you how inefficiencies get built, how to your storage should be optimized and the overall savings you would realize as an organization:


Case Study:
We went through a POC for a customer with their existing storage environment (efficiency, utilization, tiering), Customer had some environments running 20% and 30% utilized with 1 single tier. They were looking to invest more into a specific storage platform. Apparently the folks were just astonished to review the results and the savings.

Total savings of 10 Million US dollars over 3 years with establishing a Storage Economics practice for their 1 PB Storage Environment.

The above savings were minuscule, if there is a customer with a larger environment, the savings would increase substantially.
This savings can possibly help you acquire new technology or can be given back to the organization, making you a hero, may be take you much closer to your dreams.

EMC Clariion Systems since the Data General Acquisition (10 Years)

July 23rd, 2009 No comments

Over the past 3 months, quite a few readers have asked me to write about various models that are associated with the EMC Clariion Generation of machines and its features.

To sum them all, here is the list…..


EMC Clariion FC Series (This may have been 1999 through 2003)

  • FC4300: Fiber Channel 4500 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC4500: Fiber Channel 4300 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1GB interface
  • FC4700: Fiber Channel 4700 Series, FC Disk, FC SP interface, 1 GB, 2 GB interfaces
  • IP4700: Internet Protocol 4700 Series, FC Disk, IP SP interface, 10/100 interfaces
  • FC5000: Fiber Channel 5000 Series, FC Disk, JBOD
  • FC5200: Fiber Channel 5200 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1GB interface
  • FC5300: Fiber Channel 5300 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5400: Fiber Channel 5400 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5500: Fiber Channel 5500 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5600: Fiber Channel 5600 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB interface
  • FC5700: Fiber Channel 5700 Series, FC Disk, FC SP Interface, 1 GB, 2GB interface

EMC Clariion CX Series (This generation released 2003 through 2006)

  • CX200: Generation 1 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX200LC: Generation 1 CX, Fiber Channel CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface with one SP and one SPS
  • CX400: Generation 1 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX600: Generation 1 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX300: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX500: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX700: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC SP 2GB interface
  • CX300i: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP interface
  • CX500i: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP interface
  • CX700i: Generation 2 CX, CX Series, FC, ATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP interface

Each of the model types has certain set of features to it; click here to read the previous blog post on the major differences for each models.


EMC Clariion CX3 Series (This generation released 2006 through 2009)

  • CX3-10: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-20: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-20C: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-20F: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 4GB
  • CX3-40: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB
  • CX3-40C: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB
  • CX3-40F: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale  Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB
  • CX3-80: Generation 3 CX, CX3 Ultrascale Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC & ISCSI SP 8GB

Each of the model types has certain set of features to it; click here to read the previous blog post on the major differences for each models.


EMC Clariion CX4 Ultraflex Series (This generation was released in 2008)

  • CX4-120C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-120C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-120: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-240C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-240C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-240: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-480C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-480C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-480: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-960C: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-960C8: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB
  • CX4-960: Generation 4 CX, CX-4 Ultraflex Series, FC, SATA Disk, FC 4/8 GB & ISCSI 1GB

Each of the model types has certain set of features to it: click here to read the previous blog post on the major differences for each model type.

EMC Clariion AX Series

  • AX100: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB
  • AX100SC: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB, single controller
  • AX100i: SATA Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB
  • AX100SCi: SATA Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB, single controller
  • AX150: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB
  • AX150i: SATA Disk, SP FC interface 2GB
  • AX4-5F: SATA, SAS Disk, SP FC interface 4GB
  • AX4-5FSC: SATA, SAS Disk, SP FC interface 4GB, single controller
  • AX4-5i: SATA, SAS Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB
  • AX4-5iSC: SATA, SAS Disk, SP iSCSI interface 1GB, single controller

A previous blog post that discusses full functionalities of the AX-4 platform, please read here.

Also mid last year, in a blog post we discussed various EMC Symmetrix, Clariion, Celerra and DL Series of machines.


Just for reference,

The previous generations of Clariion (during the Pre-EMC days or the Data General Clariion)

  • C1xx0: C Series Clariion, 10 Slot System, FC Interface, SCSI Disk
  • C2xx0: C Series Clariion, 20 Slot System, FC interface, SCSI Disk
  • C3xx0: C Series Clariion, 30 Slot System, FC interface, SCSI Disk

EMC Symmetrix: Dynamic Hot Spares

July 22nd, 2009 No comments

There are two types of sparing strategies available on EMC Symmetrix Series of machines.

Dynamic Hot Sparing:
Starting the Symmetrix 4.0, EMC had introduced dynamic hot spares in its Enginuity code to support customers against failing disk drives and reducing the probability of a data loss. Available there onwards on each version of Symmetrix, customers have been able to use this Hot Sparing technology. Today the Dynamic sparing is available on Symmetrix 4.0, Symmetrix 4.8, Symmetrix 5.0, Symmetrix 5.5, DMX, DMX2, DMX3, and DMX4 systems.

Permanent Spares: Was introduced starting the Symmetrix DMX3 products, now available on DMX4’s and V-Max systems. I believe, Enginuity code 5772 started supporting Permanent Spares to guard customers against failing disk drives to further help reduce any performance, redundancy and processing degradation on the Symmetrix systems with features that were not available with the Dynamic Hot Sparing.

Highlights of Permanent Sparing

Due to some design, performance, redundancy limitations and Symmetrix mirror positions, dynamic hot spares were becoming a bottleneck related to customer internal job processing, example: a failed 1TB SATA drive sync to dynamic spare might take more than 8 to 48 hours.  While a similar process to remove the dynamic spare and equalize the replaced drive might take the same. During this time the machine is more or less in a lock down (Operational but not configurable).

Due to these limitations, a concept of Permanent spares was introduced on EMC Symmetrix systems, which would help fulfill some gaps the Dynamic hot spares technology has. Following are the criteria for Dynamic Hot Spares.

To read about EMC Symmetrix : Permanent Hot Spares


Some important things to consider with Dynamic Hot Sparing

  1. Supported through microcode (Enginuity) version starting Symmetrix Family 4.0, support extended through all later releases of Enginuity until DMX-4 (5773).
  2. Dynamic Hot Spares configured and enabled in the backend by an EMC CE.
  3. No BIN file change is performed as the Dynamic Hot Spare gets invoked or removed upon a disk drive failure.
  4. No BIN file change is allowed until the Dynamic Hot Spare is removed from the active used devices pool and inserted back into the Spares pool.
  5. An EMC CE will need to attend site to replace the failed drive and put the dynamic hot spare back in the pool of devices available for sparing.
  6. Enginuity does not check for performance and redundancy when the dynamic hot spare is invoked.
  7. In the previous generation of Symmetrix systems, an exact match (speed, size, block size) was required with Dynamic hot spares. Starting I believe the 5772 (DMX3 onwards) version of microcode that requirement is not necessary. Now larger or smaller multiple dynamic spares can be spread across protecting multiple devices not ready, the one to one relationship (failed drive to dynamic spare) is not true any more.
  8. Related to performance on DMX3 systems and above, if correct dynamic spares are not configured, customers can see issues around redundancy and performance. Example, A 10K drive can be invoked automatically against a failed drive that is 15K causing performance issues. Also a drive on the same loop as other raid group devices can be invoked as a hot spare, potentially causing issues if the entire loop was to go down.
  9. Dynamic spares will not take all the characteristics of failed drives. Example, mirror positions.
  10. While the Permanent Spare or Dynamic Hot Spare is not invoked and is sitting in the machine waiting for a failure, these devices are not accessible from the front end (customer). The folks back at the PSE labs, will still be able to interact with these devices and invoke it for you incase of a failure or a proactive failure or for any reasons the automatic invoke fails.
  11. If a Permanent Spare fails to invoke, a Dynamic Hot Spare is invoked, if a Dynamic Hot Spare fails to invoke, the customer data stays unprotected.
  12. Dynamic Hot Spare is supported with RAID-1, RAID-10, RAID-XP, RAID-5 and various configurations within each Raid type.  Dynamic hot sparing does not work with RAID-6 devices.
  13. As far as I know for the V-Max systems, Dynamic hot sparing is not supported.


Some important benefits of Dynamic Hot Sparing

  1. Dynamic Hot Sparing kicks in when Permanent Sparing fails to invoke
  2. Provides additional protection against data loss

No BIN file change is performed with Dynamic Hot Sparing

As a requirement to all the new systems that are configured now, sparing is required. Hope this provides a vision into configuring your next EMC Symmetrix on the floor.

EMC Symmetrix: Permanent Sparing

July 21st, 2009 1 comment

There are two types of sparing strategies available on EMC Symmetrix Series of machines.

Dynamic Hot Sparing:
Starting the Symmetrix 4.0, EMC had introduced dynamic hot spares in its Enginuity code to support customers against failing disk drives and reducing the probability of a data loss. Available there onwards on each version of Symmetrix, customers have been able to use this Hot Sparing technology. Today the Dynamic sparing is available on Symmetrix 4.0, Symmetrix 4.8, Symmetrix 5.0, Symmetrix 5.5, DMX, DMX2, DMX3, and DMX4 systems.

Permanent Spares:
Was introduced starting the Symmetrix DMX3 products, now available on DMX4’s and V-Max systems. I believe, Enginuity code 5772 started supporting Permanent Spares to guard customers against failing disk drives to further help reduce any performance, redundancy and processing degradation on the Symmetrix systems with features that were not available with the Dynamic Hot Sparing.

Highlights of Permanent Sparing

Due to some design, performance, redundancy limitations and Symmetrix mirror positions, dynamic hot spares were becoming a bottleneck related to customer internal job processing, example: a failed 1TB SATA drive sync to dynamic spare might take more than 8 to 48 hours.  While a similar process to remove the dynamic spare and equalize the replaced drive might take the same. During this time the machine is more or less in a lock down (Operational but not configurable).

Due to these limitations, a concept of Permanent spares was introduced on EMC Symmetrix systems, which would help fulfill some gaps the Dynamic hot spares technology has. Following are the criteria for Permanent Spares.

Some important things to consider with Permanent Spares

  1. Permanent Spares are supported through the microcode (Enginuity) versions starting the DMX-3 (5772 onwards) into the latest generation Symmetrix V-Max Systems.
  2. The customer needs to identify and setup the devices for Permanent Spares using Solutions enabler or an EMC CE should perform a BIN file change on the machine to enable Permanent Spares and the associated devices.
  3. When the Permanent Spare kicks in upon a failing / failed drive, a BIN file change locally within the machine is performed using the unattended SIL. Any configuration locks or un-functional Service Processors will kill the process before it’s initiated, in this instance the Permanent Spare will not be invoked but rather will invoke the Dynamic Hot Spare.
  4. An EMC CE will not require attending the site right away to replace the drive since the Permanent Spare has been invoked and all the data is protected. All failed drives where Permanent spares have been invoked can be replaced in a batch. When the failed drive is replaced, it will become a Permanent spare and will go the Permanent spares pool.
  5. Configuration of Permanent Spares is initiated through BIN file change, during this process, the CE or the customer will required to consider Permanent Spares rules related to performance and redundancy.
  6. If a Permanent Spare cannot be invoked due to any reasons related to performance and redundancy, a Dynamic Hot Spare will be invoked against the failing / failed device.
  7. The Permanent Spare will take all the original characteristics of a failed disk (device flags, meta configs, hyper sizes, mirror positions, etc) as it gets invoked.
  8. The rule of thumb with permanent spares is to verify that the machine has required type / size / speed / capacity / block size of the related permanent spare drives configured.
  9. You can have a single Symmetrix frame with Permanent Spares and Dynamic Hot Spares both configured.
  10. While the Permanent Spare or Dynamic Hot Spare is not invoked and is sitting in the machine waiting for a failure, these devices are not accessible from the front end (customer). The folks back at the PSE labs, will still be able to interact with these devices and invoke it for you incase of a failure or a proactive measure or for any reasons the automatic invoke fails.
  11. Permanent spares can be invoked against Vault drives, if a permanent spare drive is available on the same DA where the failure occurred.
  12. Permanent spares can be configured with EFD’s. I believe for every 2 DAE’s (30+ drives) you have to configure one hot spare EFD (permanent spares).
  13. Permanent Spares supports RAID type RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5, RAID 6 and all configurations within.

Some important Benefits of Permanent Sparing

  1. Additional protection against data loss
  2. Permanent sparing reduces the number of times the data copy is required (one time) instead of dynamic spares that needs to data copy (two times).
  3. Permanent sparing resolves the problem of mirror positions.
  4. Permanent spares (failed) drives can be replaced in batches, do not require immediate replacement.
  5. Permanent spares do not put a configuration lock on the machine, while an invoked dynamic spare will put a configuration lock until replaced.
  6. Permanent spares obey the rules of performance and redundancy while Dynamic hot sparing does not.

As a requirement to all the new systems that are configured now, sparing is required. Hope this provides a vision into configuring your next EMC Symmetrix on the floor.