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Storage I/O trends

Do you want non disruptive updates or do you need non disruptive upgrades?

First there is a bit of play on words going on here with needs vs. wants, as well as what is meant by non disruptive.


Regarding needs vs. wants, they are often used interchangeably particular in IT when discussing requirements or what the customer would like to have. The key differentiator is that a need is something that is required and somehow cost justified, or hopefully easier than a want item. A want or like to have item is simply that, its not a need however it could add value being a benefit although may be seen as discretionary.


There is also a bit of play on words with non disruptive updates or upgrades that can take on different meanings or assumptions. For example my Windows 7 laptop has automatic Microsoft updates enabled some of which can be applied while I work. On the other hand, some of those updates may be applied while I work however they may not take effect until I reboot or exit and restart an application.


This is not unique to Windows as my Ubuntu and Centos Linux systems can also apply updates, and in some cases a reboot might be required, same with my VMware environment. Lets not forget about applying new firmware to a server, or workstation, laptop or other device, along with networking routers, switches and related devices. Storage is also not immune as new software or firmware can be applied to a HDD or SSD, either by your workstation, laptop, server or storage system. Speaking of storage systems, they too have new software or firmware that gets updated.


Storage I/O trends


The common theme here though is if the code (e.g. software, firmware, microcode, flash update, etc) can be applied non disruptive something known as non disruptive code load, followed by activation. With activation, the code may have been applied while the device or software was in use, however may need a reboot or restart. With non disruptive code activation, there should not be a disruption to what is being done when the new software takes effect.


This means that if a device supports non disruptive code load (NDCL) updates along with non disruptive code activation (NDCA), the upgrade can occur without disruption or having to wait for a reboot.


Which is better?


That depends, I want NDCA, however for many things I only need NDCL.


On the other hand, depending on what you need, perhaps it is both NDCL and NDCA, however also keep in mind needs vs. wants.


Ok, nuff said (for now).

Cheers gs

Storage I/O trends

Converged Compute, SSD Storage and Clouds

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) announced today several enhancements to their data storage and unified compute portfolio as  part of their Maximize I.T. initiative.


Setting the context

As part of setting the stage for this announcement, HDS has presented the following strategy vision as part their vision for IT transformation and cloud computing.

What was announced

This announcement builds on earlier ones around HDS Unified Storage (HUS) primary storage using nand flash MLC Solid State Devices (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD's), along with unified block and file (NAS), as well Unified Compute Platform (UCP) also known as converged compute, networking, storage and software. These enhancements follow recent updates to the HDS Content Platform (HCP) for object, file and content storage.


There are three  main focus areas of the announcement:

  • Flash SSD storage  enhancements for HUS
  • Unified with enhanced file (aka BlueArc based)
  • Enhanced unified compute (UCP)

HDS  Flash SSD acceleration

The question should not be if SSD is in your future, rather when, where, with what and how much will be needed.


As  part of this announcement, HDS is releasing an all flash  SSD based HUS  enterprise storage system. Similar to what other vendors have done, HDS is attaching flash SSD storage to their HUS systems in place of HDD's. Hitachi has developed their own SSD module  announced  in 2012 (read  more here). The HDS SSD module use Multi Level Cell (MLC) nand flash chips (dies) that now supports 1.6TB of storage space capacity unit. This is different from other vendors who either use nand flash SSD drive form factor devices (e.g. Intel, Micron, Samsung, SANdisk, Seagate, STEC (now WD), WD among others) or, PCIe form factor cards (e.g. FusionIO, Intel, LSI, Micron, Virident among others) or, attach a third-party external SSD device (e.g. IBM/TMS, Violin, Whiptail etc.).


Like some other vendors, HDS has also done more than simply attach a SSD (drive, PCIe card, or external device) to their storage systems calling it an integrated solution. What this means is that HDS has implemented software or firmware changes into their storage systems to manage durability and extend flash duty cycles caused by program erase (P/E) cycle wear. In addition HDS has implemented performance optimization in their storage systems to leverage the faster SSD modules, after all, faster storage media or devices need fast storage systems or controllers.


While the new all flash storage system can be initially bought  with just SSD, similar to other hybrid storage solutions, hard  disk drives (HDD's)  can also be installed. For enabling full performance at low latency, HDS is addressing both the flash SSD modules as well as the storage systems they attach to including back-end, front-end and caching in-between.


The  release enables 500,000 or half a million IOPS (no IOP  size, reads or writes, random or sequential. Future firmware (non-disrupted) to  enable higher performance that HDS is claiming will be 1,000,000 IOPS at under  a millisecond) were indicated.


In  addition to future performance improvements, HDS is also indicating increased  storage space capacity of its MLC  flash SSD modules (1.6TB today). Using 12 modules (1.6TB each), 154TB of flash SSD can be placed in a single rack.

HDS  File and Network Attached Storage (NAS)

HUS unified NAS file system and gateway (BlueArc based) enhancements include:


  • New platforms leveraging faster processors (both Intel and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA's))
  • Common management and software tools from 3000 to new 4000 series
  • Bandwidth doubled with faster connections and more memory
  • Four 10GbE NAS serving ports (front-end)
  • Four 8Gb Fibre Channel ports (back-end)
  • FPGA leveraged for off-loading some dedupe functions (faster performance)


HDS  Unified Complete Platform (UCP)

As  part of this announcement, HDS is enhancing the Unified Compute Platform (UCP)  offerings. HDS re-entered the compute market in 2012 joining other vendors offering unified compute, storage and networking  solutions. The HDS converged data infrastructure  competes with AMD (Seamicro) SM15000, Dell  vStart and VRTX (for lower end market), EMC and VCE vBlock, NetApp FlexPod along with those from HP (or Moonshot micro servers), IBM  Puresystems, Oracle and others.


UCP  Pro for VMware vSphere

  • Turnkey converged solution  (Compute, Networking, Storage, Software)
  • Includes VMware  vSphere pre-installed (OEM from VMware)
  • Flexible compute blade options
  • Three storage system  options (HUS, HUS VM and VSP)
  • Cisco and Brocade IP  networking
  • UCP Director 3.0 with  enhanced automation and orchestration software

UCP  Select for Microsoft Private Cloud

  • Supports Hyper-V 3.0 server  virtualization
  • Live migration with DR and  resynch
  • Microsoft Fast Track  certified

UCP  Select for Oracle RAC

  • HDS Flash SSD storage
  • SMP x86 compute for  performance
  • 2x improvements for IOPS  less than 1 millisecond
  • Common management with  HiCommand suite
  • Integrated with Oracle RMAN  and OVM

UCP  Select for SAP HANA

  • Scale out to 8TBs memory  (DRAM)
  • Tier 1 storage system  certified for SAP HANA DR
  • Leverages SAP HANA SAP  storage connector API

What this all means?

Storage I/O trends


With these announcements HDS is extending its storage centric hardware, software and services solution portfolio for block, file and object access across different usage tiers (systems, applications, mediums). HDS is also expanding their converged unified compute platforms to stay competitive with others including Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, NEC, NetApp and Oracle among others. For environments with HDS storage looking for converged solutions to support VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle or SAP HANA these UCP systems are worth checking out as part of evaluating vendor offerings. Likewise for those who have HDS storage exploring SSD offerings, these announcements give opportunities to enable consolidation as do the unified file (NAS) offerings.


Note that now HDS does not have a public formalized message or story around PCIe flash cards, however they have relationships with various vendors as part of their UCP offerings.


Overall a good set of incremental enhancements for HDS to stay competitive and leverage their field proven capabilities including management software tools.

Ok, nuff said

Cheers gs

Storage I/O trends

A couple of months ago at EMCworld there were announcements  around ViPR, Pivotal along with trust and clouds among  other topics. During the recent  EMCworld event there were some questions among attendees what about backup and data protection announcements (or lack there of)?


Modernizing Data Protection

Today EMC  announced enhancements to its Backup Recovery Solutions (BRS) portfolio (@EMCBackup) that continue to enable information  and applications data protection modernizing including Avamar, Data Domain, Mozy and Networker.


Keep in mind you can’t go forward if you can’t go back,  which means if you do not have good data protection to go to, you can’t go  forward with your information.


EMC Modern Data Protection Announcements

As part of their Backup to the Future event,  EMC announced the following:

What did EMC announce for data protection modernization?

While  much of the EMC data protection announcement is around product, there is also the  aspect of rethinking data protection. This means looking at data protection  modernization beyond swapping out media (e.g. tape for disk, disk for cloud) or  one backup software tool for another. Instead, revisiting why data protection  needs to be accomplished, by whom, how to remove complexity and cost, enable  agility and flexibility. This also means enabling data protection to be used or  consumed as a service in traditional, virtual and private or hybrid cloud  environments.


EMC  uses as an example (what they refer to as Accidental Architecture) of how there  are different group and areas of focus, along with silos associated with data  protection. These groups span virtual, applications, database, server, storage among  others.


The results are silos that need to be transformed  in part using new technology  in new ways, as well as addressing a  barrier to IT convergence (people  and processes). The theme behind EMC data protection strategy is to enable  the needs and requirements of various groups (servers, applications, database,  compliance, storage, BC and DR) while removing complexity.



  Moving  from Silos of data protection to a converged service enabled model

Three data protection and backup focus areas

This  sets the stage for the three components for enabling a converged data  protection model that can be consumed or used as a service in traditional,  virtual and private cloud environments.


  EMC  three components of modernized data protection (EMC Future Backup)


The  three main components (and their associated solutions) of EMC BRS strategy are:

  • Data management services: Policy  and storage management, SLA, SLO, monitoring, discovery and analysis. This is  where tools such as EMC Data Protection Advisor (aka via WysDM acquisition) fit  among others for coordination or orchestration, setting and managing polices  along with other activities.
  • Data source integration:  Applications, Database, File systems, Operating System, Hypervisors and primary  storage systems. This is where data movement tools such as Avamar and  Networker among others fit along with interfaces to application tools such as  Oracle RMAN.
  • Protection storage:  Targets, destination storage system with media or mediums optimized for  protecting and preserving data along with enabling data footprint reduction  (DFR). DFR includes functionality such as compression and dedupe among others.  Example of data protection storage is EMC Data Domain.


Read more about product items announced and what this all means here in the second of this two-part series.

Ok, nuff said (for now).

Cheers gs