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Policy! Policy!! Policy!!!

October 20th, 2009 6 comments

It has been an exciting month, some new details are emerging related to automated storage tiering, workload distributions, workflow automation, SLA’s, QoS and how Policy based storage management can help solve these challenges. “Policy” as we all know in the “business world”, “advanced algorithms” as known in “scientific community” is used to solve complex storage challenges. This has been one of the favorite topics of discussion in the storage blogosphere these days.

Though there are two distinct groups of people, one favoring automation and the other half possibly thinking this technology brings no value-add in terms of how storage is utilized and managed today. This game was initially started by Compellent (Compellent Data Progression technology) about 4 years ago, then joined by Pillar Data Systems and now other OEM’s (including EMC, HDS, IBM) are starting to catchup on policy based automated storage tiering.

With private clouds in the near future and then hybrid clouds (a mesh of private and public clouds) in the horizon, automation, workload distribution, SLA’s, QoS will need to be monitored and managed to optimally run IT Infrastructures. Policy based management will create a new wave of storage management, automation and will act as a principle ingredient of hybrid clouds.

Generation 1 of policy based storage tiering works within a single storage subsystem.
Generation 2 in the near future should work across heterogeneous storage subsystems (by the same manufacturers).
Generation 3 over the next year or two will work across storage platforms irrelevant of the manufacturers.
Generation 3 of policy based management will include the entire stack of management. These products will be capable of not only managing the Storage, but also interact through policies at the Virtualization, Networking, Application, OS, Middleware and other layers in the stack of Infrastructure management..

We should see an up-rise of new emerging technologies that will create these external policy based engines for data movement automation. All infrastructure components including Storage, Virtualization, Networking, Application, OS, Middleware will provide the necessary API’s for these external engines to interact and enable data automation and workflow automation in the hybrid clouds (irrelevant of the manufacturers).

www links

Here are a few articles from the past month related to the topics of Policy, Automated Storage Tiering, Workloads, SLA’s and QoS.

Pillar (OEM)

http://blog.pillardata.com/pillar_data_blog/2009/10/autotiering-of-data.html

EMC (OEM)

http://flickerdown.com/2009/09/why-policy-is-the-future-of-storage/

http://flickerdown.com/2009/10/why-policy-is-the-future-of-storage-part-2/

http://stevetodd.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/10/greenfield-monitoring-of-a-private-cloud.html

http://stevetodd.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/09/federation-and-private-cloud.html

Compellent (Partner Blog)

http://blogs.cinetica.it/cinetica/2009/10/19/dear-mike/

http://blogs.cinetica.it/cinetica/2009/08/25/tiered-storage-and-new-features-for-the-rest-of-us/

HDS (OEM)

http://blogs.hds.com/hu/2009/09/ilm-revisited-intelligent-tiered-storage-for-file-and-content-data.html

Independents

http://www.storagemonkeys.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=the-end-of-history-or-just-the-beginning-.html&Itemid=136

http://thestoragearchitect.com/2009/10/18/enterprise-computing-do-we-need-fast-v1-emc/

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

http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/storage-soup/hp-drops-roadmap-nuggets-at-storageworks-techday/

http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/storage-soup/spinnaker-founders-bring-avere-out-of-stealth/

http://breathingdata.com/2009/10/18/can-and-when-will-ssds-sata-replace-fcsas/

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

http://storagenerve.com/2009/10/14/enhancements-to-emc-symmetrix-v-max-systems/

Your thoughts always welcome!!!

cheers
@storagenerve

Enhancements to EMC Symmetrix V-Max Systems coming!!

October 14th, 2009 No comments

Enhancements to EMC Symmetrix V-Max system is possibly around the corner (FY09 Q4).

FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) is due this quarter and will be one of the most awaited software release in the enterprise storage space by EMC.

Bundled together with FAST, possibly a new microcode version the enables FAST (its associated features) and other expected enhancements.

Though this will be a major software release and functionality upgrade, I don’t think this would qualify as a 2nd generation EMC Symmetrix V-Max system.

But fully expect EMC to release its FAST v2 and V-Max G2 somewhere around Mid year 2010.


Here are a few new features to possibly expect on the EMC Symmetrix V-Max Systems this quarter.

1. Introduction of FAST v1, which should allow automated data movement within a single Symmetrix V-Max system. Here are some features of FAST as discussed on GestaltIT and by Barry Burke (TSA) on his blog.

2. FAST v1 data movement should possibly be policy driven around factors like time (how old is the data), SLA (promised SLA’s), Tier (from Tier 0 to Tier 1 to Tier 2) and possibly I/O or IOPS based.

3. FAST v1 should allow automated policy based data movement or prompt a user for manual intervention for data movement.

4. Do not expect FAST v1 to come for free, it will possibly be licensed based on the total number of TB’s in the storage subsystem.

5. Expect some integration between the IONIX platform and FAST v1 and possibly some very tight integration with future releases of FAST and IONIX.

6. Expect FAST and IONIX to integrate very tightly with Atmos through API’s and policies. We should expect to see this with FAST v2 and not with FAST v1.

7. So when does EMC retire Symmetrix Optimizer, with FAST v1 probably not, with FAST v2 probably yes.

8. 2TB SATA II drives will be introduced (According to a Keynote from Joe Tucci in NYC), though Joe Tucci didn’t mention what platforms the 2TB SATA II drives will be available on, it seems the V-Max upgrade would be the most logical platform.

9. The 2TB SATA II drive upgrade should make the V-Max 4 PB total storage (2400 drives x 2TB), possibly the single largest storage subsystem at an enterprise level.

10. RapidIO speed upgrade from 2.5 Gbps to 4 Gbps (interconnects between the engines) upgraded either through MBIE (new processors) and / or through microcode upgrades. Edit 10/15/2009 – 12:50 PM: Not sure currently the technology that EMC uses for RapidIO, since Parallel RapidIO supports 250 Mhz to 1Ghz clocking speeds while Serial RapidIO supports 1.25Ghz to 3Ghz.

11. Drive connect speed upgrade from 4 Gbps to 8 Gbps

12. FC and FICON (Host Connects) port speeds upgrade from 4 Gbps to 8 Gbps

13. Interconnect between two separate Symmetrix V-Max Systems (8 Engines each per system) expanding into possibly 16 or 32 (max) engines. The more I think about this concept, the more it makes me feel that there are no added benefits of this architecture, rather it will add more complexities with data management and higher latency. We may not see anything related to interconnects in this upgrade, but remember how the V-Max was initially marketed with having hundreds of engines and millions of IOPS, the only way to achieve that vision is through interconnects. The longer the distance, the more latency with cache and I/O. If Interconnets end up making in this release, limitation on the distance between two Symmetrix V-Max system bays would be around 100 feet.

14. To the point above, another way of possibly connecting these systems could merely be federation through external policy based engines. Ed Saipetch and myself have speculated that concept on GestaltIT.

15. With the use of larger drive size, possibly expect a cache upgrade. Currently the Symmetrix V-Max supports 1TB total cache (512GB usable), which may get upgraded to 2TB total cache (1024 GB usable).

16. New possible microcode version 5875 that will help bring features like FAST, SATA II drives and additional cache into the Symmetrix V-Max.

17. Processors: 4 x Quad Core Intel processors on V-Max engines may not get an upgrade in this release, it should possibly be with FAST v2 as a midlife enhancement next year.

18. Further enhancements related to FCoE support.

19. Upgrade of iSCSI interface on Symmetrix V-Max engines from 1GB to 10GB (is now available with the Clariion CX4 platforms).

20. Really do not expect this to happen, but imagine RapidIO interconnects change to FCoE. Really not sure what made EMC to go with RapidIO instead of Infiniband 40 Gbps (which most of the storage industry folks think is dead) or FCoE with Engine interconnects, but if the engineers at EMC thought of RapidIO as a means to connect the V-Max engines, there has to be a reason behind it. Edit 10/15/2009 12:50 PM: Enginuity more or less doesn’t care about the underlying switching technology, making a switch from RapidIO to FCoE or Infiniband can be accomplished without a lot of pains. Though for customers already invested into RapidIO technology (with existing V-Max systems), it might be offline time to change the underlying fabric, which in most cases is unacceptable.

21. Virtual Provisioning on Virtual LUNs which is currently not supported with the existing generation of Microcode on V-Max systems.

22. Atmos currently is running as a beta release and we should expect a market release this Quarter. Should we expect to see an integration between V-Max and Atmos. I am not sure of any integration today.

23. A very interesting feature to have in the EMC Symmetrix V-Max would be system partitioning, where you can run half the V-Max engines at a certain Microcode level with a certain set of features and other half can be treated as a completely separate system with its own identity (almost like a Mainframe environment). Shouldn’t this be a feature of a modular storage array.

24. Symmetrix Management Console (SMC) and Vmware integration (like VMware aware Navisphere and Navisphere aware VMware). There is already quite a bit of support related to VMware in SMC for provisioning and allocation.

25. Also a much tighter integration between IONIX, FAST, SMC, Navisphere and Atmos may after all be the secret sauce, which would enable workflow, dataflow and importantly automation. Though do not expect this integration now, something to look forward for the next year.

Summary

Though I am still a bit confused on where FAST will physically sit.

FAST v1 can merely be a feature integrated within the Microcode, configurable & driven through policy within the Symmetrix Management Console.

FAST v2 (Sometime Mid 2010) will support in-box and out-of-box (eg: Symmetrix to Clariion to Celerra to Centera) data movement through policy engine.

Ed Saipetch and myself have speculated on GestaltIT on how that may work. Though after some thoughts, I do believe a policy engine can merely be a VM or a vAPP sitting outside the physical storage system in the Storage environment.

To promote the sales of the EMC Symmetrix V-Max systems, Barry Burke in his blog post talks about Open Replicator, Open Migrator and SRDF / DM (Data mobility) are now available at no cost for customers purchasing a new EMC Symmetrix V-Max system, these are some of the incentives that EMC is offering and further promoting the sales of its latest generation Symmetrix technology.

It remains to be seen the path of success FAST will carve for Symmetrix V-Max systems.

HP Techday 2009: The Final Thoughts!

October 2nd, 2009 4 comments

This is my 5th consecutive post on HP TechDay in Colorado Springs.

HP Techday 2009 Updates

HP TechDay 2009 Day 0

HP TechDay 2009 Day 1

HP TechDay 2009 Day 2

Screen shot 2009-10-01 at 8.05.25 PM

HP facilities in Colorado Springs, a Satellite view

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Positives

This event was a very smart move by HP and as far as I can see they have exceeded their expectations with this event. It was truly a fireworks of hash tag #hptechday both Monday and Tuesday which dominated twitter. The after discussions have taken over the blogging, twitter and the Internet press by surprise with the number of twits, blogs and press articles written about this event.

Clearly for me this was a good platform to learn, understand and share some visions and technologies related to HP Storage products. An Event like this helps understand and connect the dots together with future products and emerging technologies.

The R&D and Engineering teams gave us a good background of the inter-workings of the storage technology not necessarily the intra-workings of all technologies messed together. There were some awkward moments, but overall they pulled it together really well. The marketing folks spoke about some strategy related to these technologies and painted an overall picture. The mix of people involved with the presentations and demos seem to accomplish the agenda, where marketing pitches came in with engineering details.

HP really left competition out of all the discussions except for the hands-on lab. No mentions of EMC, NetApp, IBM, Cisco or HDS. The hands-on lab did have an exercise on NetApp FAS2050C and an EMC Clariion CX4-120 for LUN provisioning purposes in comparison to LUN provisioning on HP EVA’s. It was a positive strategy from HP, not to compare their products to that of EMC, NetApp and others.

A lot of discussions revolved around Virtualization related to VMware, Xen and Hyper-V, but HP made it clear they were VMware’s largest revenue producing partner and would like to remain so.

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Challenges

Platforms like EVA, SVSP, Lefthand, IBRIX and D2D were discussed. Independently every platform looks very interesting and very compelling. But an integration vision was still lacking, a direction or a strategy on how these pieces of puzzle will be joined together to form the common storage platform.  Though HP clearly seems to be making a move towards Converged Data Centers.

HP clearly has a very big competition in the storage market with already proven Vendors and their technologies. EMC, NetApp, IBM, Cisco, VMware in storage, networking and Converged Data Centers. Also technologies that are strong and emerging would largely cause market nuisance or focus disruption for HP.

One of the biggest problems I saw was, HP has these segments of storage and technology, rather not a unified vision, or didn’t come across as one. There are pouches of storage like EVA teams, SVSP teams, Lefthand teams and so forth, not sure if there is technology sharing and again a moved towards integrating all these technologies to form a unified storage platform. Though Proliant is the chosen platform for all Lefthand and Converged Data Center products.

HP still needs a very strong storage technology in the Enterprise space that is there own and not OEM’d. The truth is, eventually the HP – Hitachi relationship has to come to an end with HP’s new product that may compete in the same market space. This strategy will enable HP to be very unique in terms of the markets they serve, which may include their own inhouse storage products for SMB, Midsize and Enterprise customers.

So other lacking things from HP were the Cloud Strategy (if they ever plan to enter that space), Unified Storage details, FCoE discussions, Procurve, Deduplication platform discussions, IBRIX technology integration details, Storage Management, Storage Optimization and XP.

It may have been very hard to cover all these platforms in a day and a half with giving all the technology details behind it. Also remember this was an NON NDA session, so we were not preview to all the future products and technologies.

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Summary

Overall HP did hammer us for 2 consecutive days with HP Storage Technology. Coming out of it, I can truly say I didn’t realize HP had so much focus on Storage. Their move to hire Dave Donatelli was a smart one and hope over the next year as the Storage business moves under him; he will insert some new strategic direction.

So HP was the first OEM to arrange the HP Techday and make it open to Bloggers as an Invite Only Event. The ratio of Bloggers to HP Personnel was 1:2, giving everyone a lot of attention.

Now the question is who will be next OEM to do a similar event and what will they do to prove themselves different. Already hearing some buzz in the industry about some the effects of HP Techday and some possible events from other OEMs.

But I clearly see an advantage of an event like this and the after effects of it, Good move HP Storage – Marketing Team!

HP TechDay 2009 Day 1: HP StorageWorks Technology

September 30th, 2009 4 comments

Colorado Springs is a great small town, surrounded by snow covered mountains, an a US Airforce Academy in town. Colorado Springs is also the home of the HP StorageWorks platform R&D center.

Pic 1 Colorado Springs Purple Majestic
A view of mountains from the Hotel room, the purple majestic as it’s called.

The HP Techday kicked off at around 8 AM on Monday morning with Breakfast and then a Welcome session following it.

The understandable goals HP has with this event is to promote HP products, technology and strategy with industry bloggers, which could further create a wave of discussion about HP products in the Twitter / Blogging community.

There were 11 Industry Bloggers and around 20 HP folks including Marketing, CTO’s office, R&D team and Storage Architects.

A few pictures from the Technology Session Rooms

Pic 2 Sessions

Technology Session Rooms

Pic 3 Nigel Poulton

Our friend “Nigel Poulton” – Ruptured Monkey

I will try to leave the focus of this blog post to the overview of the events at the HP Tech Day. It will be impossible to jump into all the related technologies in this post, but over the next month, please stay tuned on some technical talk around StorageWorks platform.

To read about HP Techday 2009 Day 0, click here

To read about HP Techday 2009 Updates, click here

The first technology session started at around 10:00 AM with a deep dive into the HP EVA platform. Lots of questions were asked by all of us related to this technology, the vision, the strategy and market competition. This was an NON NDA session, there were no talks about futures.

This session was presented by Kyle Fitze, Don Fraser and Ted Bruning.

Pic 4 Array Virtualization EVA

Picture of Array level virtualization with EVA platform

As part of the Enterprise Storage Virtualization, HP presented on the SVSP (SAN Virtualization Services Platform): honestly I didn’t even realize HP had this platform, but this technology somewhat compares with HDS’s USP-VM (diskless storage) for a mid tier market.  This session was very interesting.

Pic 6 Storage Virtualization

Slide showing the benefits of Storage Virtualization with the HP Platforms.

Around 11:30 AM, the Lefthand Team jumped in with the presentation. The purchase of Lefthand was done by HP back in Oct / Nov 2008. Seems the vision HP has today is to integrate HP Lefthand products with their next gen storage architecture.

The CTO and founder of Lefthand, John Spiers did the presentation. Believe it or not, he still has the same passion for the product and the value it brings to the market. Great session.

Broke out for lunch.

This was one of those times, when we had free access to all HP teams to talk about products, technology etc.

Then started the 3 hour-long sessions on HP EVA’s, SVSP and Lefthand.

So there were 3 systems for the bloggers to provision LUN along with a snapshot on EMC Clariion CX4, NetApp FAS system and HP EVA. The point of this session was to show the ease of use with HP EVA storage related functions.

Though I am not going to discuss any technology related items now, there were some discoveries I would like to talk on the blog later.

Pic 7 Robin Harris

Robin Harris configuring a CX4-120

Pic 8 NetApp LUN Provision

LUN Provisioning on NETAPP FAS2050c system

Pic 9 John Nina SImon configuring EVA

John, Nina and Simon configuring an EVA

The lefthand hands on session was great, went through the entire lab exercise to create clusters, create LUNs, present to host and perform failovers.

SVSP session was another great session, where we got some hands-on experience with configuring a SVSP and presenting LUNs to and from it to host.

We then got a tour of the HP EVA development labs in Colorado Springs, though we were not allowed to take pictures in this lab. There were surely sections of the lab, where we were not allowed.

Next session kicked off was around Unified Storage Platforms at HP. Though this was one of those sessions, where a lot of technology details were not given out, again I would think because it’s a NON NDA session. But its great to see how HP is jumping into the Unified Storage Vision as other Storage manufacturers are. This session was presented by Lee Johns the Director of Unified Storage Division at HP.

Pic 10 Unified Storage

Unified Storage at HP

Pic 11 Lee Johns on Unified Storage

Lee Johns presenting Unified Storage

Pic 12 Unified Storage Vision

Unified Storage Vision

The next session was on Data Deduplication. Quite interesting stuff happening at HP related to data Deduplication. Some slides as shared below. Also some discussions around HP’s self developed dedupe engine and the joint development of another dedupe engine with Sepaton.

Pic 13 Data Deduplication

Slide on Data Deduplication

The day comes to an end, but the networking day begins now.

Here are some key things we brought back from HP including Lefthand SANiQ free full-featured version, SVSP Interface configuration Software.

Pic 14 SVSP LeftHand StorageNerve Devang

Picture of some good things to take home and configure on test systems

Went out to dinner with all the Bloggers and HP folks at the Marigold Café and Bakery in Colorado Springs. The food was awesome, great entrees and desserts. Though being a Vegetarian, I had some good foods selections there.

During dinner had some discussions with Simon Seagrave related to his blog and how he has been able to generate thousands of visits a day. Check out his blog!! A very nice design and great information that he provides related to Virtualization.

Had some discussions with Stephen Foskett and Rich Brambley on GestaltIT and some new things we are working on.

Long discussions with George Wagner of HP Lefthand Networks about Lefthand technology.

Had an hour-long discussion on Unified Storage with Lee Johns. This guy is a smart marketing dude, really was a very valuable conversation with him.

The one thing I love about these tech days is, the undivided attention you get may be for  30 mins or 60 mins or more, to pick someone’s brain, hammer them with questions and understand the strategy.

Earlier in the day met up with Robin Harris for the first time. It was great to see an industry expert and talk to him about his visions, his involvement with the storage industry over all these years.

Also had some great discussions with Tom and Halley from Ivy Marketing that organized this entire event.

Discussions around Storage industry continued with Stephen Foskett, Greg Knieriemen and Calvin Zito at the Bar.

So some very important folks that organized this entire event are

Halley Bass: She’s done an amazing job to get everyone in and out of Colorado Springs, event management, our interface for this entire event, she deserves a big thank you from the team.

Terri Stratton: She wasn’t at the event, but all the reservations and other things were taken care by her.

Tom Augenthaler: He organized the entire event and verified all went smoothly both from an IVY Marketing and HP standpoint.

Finally from HP

Becca Taylor: She is the TSG Social Media Manager at HP and it was her event from an HP standpoint. Just amazing co-ordination of all things to make it a success.

Kathleen Moore: Kathleen verified the entire event went flawless all the way

Calvin Zito: Calvin was a big orchestrator of this event

So there are some things we didn’t hear about today, which we expect to hear tomorrow:

Networking technology

Unified Storage details

Converged Data Centers

XP’s