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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.

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 5874.xxx.xxx 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.

Administrative Post: New Sections added to the Blog

December 4th, 2009 1 comment

Technology Deepdive

Technology Deepdive

A brief administrative post with no technology discussion.

As an update to the blog, now have added several new sections for better search and classification of posts.

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Events: Event related posts.

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Categories and Tags: Posts based on Technology and Category

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Deepdive: A deepdive section has now been added to the Blog with easy access to technology talk related to a certain topic.

For now there are 3 items listed on the menu: RAID6, EMC and Data Robotics. These topics are the most covered topics so far with a lot of technology talk around it.
RAID6 deepdive is focused on technology implementation of RAID6 by various manufacturers.

EMC Deepdive is broken into three sections: Symmetrix, Clariion and FAST.

While Data Robotics covers Drobo.

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Videos: The videos section is an ongoing work to add more videos as they are produced.

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Downloads: Will include access to some White Papers and Tools for Storage, Virtualization and Networking.

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More content is being added to menu items as an ongoing effort.  Several other sections are being planned and populated for more Storage and Virtualization links to other blogs, tools, news, technologies, groups, communities, etc.

Hope you find this information useful. Hope the Storage Technologist, Admins, Consultants like the deepdive section, where they will be able to read about a certain technology with very easy access.

Thank you for reading the blog.

Cheers

@storagenerve

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.

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

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/22/emc_fast/

http://gestaltit.com/all/tech/storage/stephen/emc-vmax-fast-coming-december/

http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/Peeling_the_Onion_on_EMCs_VMax

http://storagenerve.com/2009/10/20/policy-policy-policy/

http://gestaltit.com/featured/top/gestalt/emc-unified-platform-storage-tiering/

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.