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HP Blades Tech Day 2010, Wednesday – Day 0

February 25th, 2010 1 comment

Day 0, full of travel and socializing with people..

So the travel started for all of us attending the HP Blades Tech Day today. As the afternoon rolled here, people from the UK arrived, people locally from the US arrived at this nice hotel in Houston, TX where HP has arranged for the Bloggers to stay.

Can’t complain about the weather in Houston, TX, though its in the 40’s, it feels so much better not to see snow on the ground. Living in NJ these days have almost become like living in the Arctic with snow covered roads and yards.., though I shouldn’t complain too much about the temperature in NJ.

After arriving here in Houston this afternoon, got to meet up with the folks attending the event and the IVY Worldwide team along with Becca Taylor, HP Social Media Manager. It was also very nice of Calvin Zito (HP Storage Blog) to travel to Houston for this event.

The fellow bloggers attending this event are..

Rich Brambley

Greg Knieriemen

Stephen Foskett

Chris Evans

Simon Seagrave

John Obeto

Frank Owen

Kevin Houston

Martin Macleod

Its always good to catch up with folks in the same industry we all are from, get to learn, talk and understand new directions and strategies that are ongoing in our market space.

I like these events, as much as they are about understanding technologies and deep dive sessions and marketing pitches, in the downtime, we all get to work and collaborate on various different topics and technologies which makes these events very unique in itself.

From the IVY Worldwide team, we have Halley Bass, Tom Augenthaler, Jeff Nielson. They are the ones that are arranging all the logistics, agenda and coordinating the entire event, amazing work guys….

Today’s dinner was at a place called Fusion Pizza. Lots of chat during the dinner hours, came back to the hotel to try some Nigerian Palm Juice that John Obeto brought in for the crew…it was great…a pungent smell to a nice tasting fermented palm juice.

Nigerian Palm Juice - Picture by Rich Brambley

Stay tuned for all the twitter activity, possibly a blog post about Day 1 later tomorrow….

As for some of the agenda tomorrow, we have key presentations from the Data Center folks regarding Virtual Connect, BladeSystem and Insight Manager Software. I would expect a mix of technology-focused discussions with some marketing presentations. There also seems to be an Infosmack Podcast scheduled for tomorrow evening, where some bloggers will be jumping on and describing their experience about HP Blades Day 2010.

As a welcome package, here are the things we received from HP this afternoon….

Welcome package from HP

I believe over the next few days, I will try to keep the blog post coming describing the daily events, but once back home, start looking at these technologies and write some deep-dive sessions on them…

After a long night of socializing with the fellow bloggers, calling off now…

Cheers

@storagenerve

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

HP Blades and Infrastructure Software TechDay 2010

February 22nd, 2010 1 comment

So back to the new years (2010) events now….

HP Blades and Infrastructure Software Tech Day 2010 is being hosted in Houston, TX on the 25th and 26th of Feb, 2010. An invitation only event focused around various HP related Compute, Virtualization and Networking Technologies (Converged Infrastructure) and possibly some new product announcements.

The Tech Day was initially launched by HP last year particularly by the Storage Group and now has become quite famous within the industry to invite bloggers and independent social media voices to these events and give them briefings about products and technologies.

These briefings include Company Executives providing a vision into the technology, possibly the next gen or future roadmaps without any NDA’s, live demos of the product by engineering teams, hands on lab, inside tour of the labs, how today’s technology helps solve business problems, marketing pitches and a deep dive session on some selected technologies.

I have been fortunate to been invited again to this event. Though the topics of discussion are not exactly disclosed yet, but stay tuned for the entire coverage of this event on this blog and also on the twitter stream.

The twitter hashcode for this event is #hpbladesday

So far here are a few Industry experts that are attending this event (in random order).

Rich Brambley: http://vmetc.com

Greg Knieriemen: Infosmack Podcast

Stephen Foskett: http://blog.fosketts.net/

Chris Evans: http://thestoragearchitect.com

Simon Seagrave: http://techhead.co.uk

John Obeto: http://absolutelywindows.com

Frank Owen: http://techvirtuoso.com

Kevin Houston: http://bladesmadesimple.com

Martin Macleod: http://www.bladewatch.com/

Calvin Zito from HP will be attending the event; you can catch Calvin’s HP Storage Blog here

http://www.communities.hp.com/online/blogs/datastorage/default.aspx

Here is the link to previous HPTECHDAY blog posts on the StorageNerve blog.

http://storagenerve.com/events/hp-techday-2009/

To follow all #hpbladesday invitees on twitter, here is a list put together by Greg Knieriemen

http://twitter.com/Knieriemen/hp-blades-day

This event is being organized by IVY Worldwide.

At this event, it will be good to understand HP’s current vision and roadmap with its Blades technology and with all the converged products.

Though I am not officially required to write about these technology briefings and deepdive sessions, if I find something interesting, you will see it in form of a technology discussion at this blog.

Twitter #hpbladesday

Cheers
@storagenerve

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.

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.