HP Disk Arrays for All Seasons

A look at Hewlett-Packard’s plans to provide disk arrays for every sized business.
Posted March 24, 2006
By

Drew Robb

Drew Robb


There is no doubt that disk storage systems remain the heart of storage. According to IDC, this segment accounts for over $20 billion dollars annually – almost double the combined total of storage software, tape automation and Fibre Channel gear. It’s no wonder, therefore, that vendors are rolling out a steady stream of newer and better disk arrays.

“Projections for disk revenues show annual increases of two to five percent,” says Fred Moore of Horison Information Strategies. “Innovative uses of disk in Virtual Tape Libraries (VTL), Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID), Serial ATA (SATA) towers and grids could drive these numbers higher over the next five years.”

Further, the latest batch of arrays are now aimed at a much wider range of potential customers – as well as the high-end, companies are rolling out mid-range and low-end models in a bid to attract more customers. HP, for example, recently released several new arrays.

“Trends in the disk array market include grid-enabled storage solutions, support for iSCSI and 4 GB Fibre Channel infrastructures,” says Kyle Fitze, director of marketing for HP’s StorageWorks SAN Division. “In the area of hard disk drives, small form factor hard disk drives, SAS and FATA drives are all areas of interest. There is also a growing interest in, and acceptance of, industry-standard multipathing.”

The Fiber Attached Technology Adapted (FATA) drive is a hybrid disk drive model developed by HP. It is a low-cost FC drive built specifically for infrequently accessed information in FC systems.

New Arrays

HP has recently released several new arrays. For the enterprise class, for example, the HP StorageWorks XP 10000 Disk Array is for tiered storage up to 16 petabytes. The model can handle up to 1152 disk drives, supports RAID 1 through 6, has a cache of up to 128 GB and offers 8 GB/s. This solution has similar features to HP’s high-end XP 12000 and offers local and remote copying for protection of storage data during disasters.

As a mid-range product, the StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) series supports between 56 and 240 drives, depending on the model. EVA comes in the 4000, 6000 and 8000 flavors. Each comes with management and replication software, network file serving, data backup and fast recovery for Microsoft Exchange environments.

What are the differences between the three EVA models? The 4000 and 6000 have a 2 GB cache, for example, while the 8000 offers a 4 GB cache. Similarly, the 4000 and 6000 each have four ports with 2GB/s performance while the 8000 has eight ports. And in terms of device ports, the 4000 and 6000 each have four ports while the 8000 has eight.

The above HP arrays also come with multipathing technology, i.e. they allow more than one path between the server and the storage device. If one path fails, there is a failing over of the workload to a redundant path. This process balances loads in addition to shifting the load to a second path if the original path fails. In this way, path redundancy provides a higher measure of certainty that data will not be lost or stopped when it is needed most.

HP has also been active at the lower end of the market, unveiling a product to support small businesses owners with modest storage needs. The StorageWorks 1510i Modular Smart Array can be used by SMBs, for departmental storage and for remote offices. It has to 96 drives with a maximum storage capacity of 24 TB. It also has multipathing support. This new SMB box has an iSCSI-based 2U controller unit that connects to both HP StorageWorks Serial ATA (SATA) and/or SCSI disk enclosures. The MSA 1510i is less expensive than the other HP equipment and uses SATA enclosures to store data not requiring high I/O performance.

So what’s next from HP in the constantly changing array playing field?

“Over the next six months, HP will follow-up its recent introduction of 4 GB Fibre Channel SAN infrastructure products with 4 GB array offerings in the high and mid-range spaces,” says Fitze. “The company will also expand its iSCSI array solutions and focus on SAS JBODs.”

Further, HP is spending plenty of research dollars on grid-based storage. The company believes shared computing is a reality, as commercial enterprises seek new features and more ways to cut costs. Grids, says Fitze, solve business problems by simplifying access from anywhere. In addition, the grid has opened the way for handhelds, printers and PCs to be connected to large storage arrays. He believes this to be a potentially huge new demand for storage.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.






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