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Applying old architectures to new solutions

by Hu Yoshida on Aug 13, 2007

Last week I was talking to Mike Brown about the requirement for logically partitioning in virtual storage in order to ensure safe multi-tenancy and Quality of Service for multiple users who share the same virtual storage pool. Without it, users would not be able to ensure the security and performance of their data storage. Mike commented that this was like mainframe logical partitions, and how old architectures come back into use. In fact many of the old mainframe storage concepts are coming back into the open systems space.

Another mainframe storage architecture that has come back is the separation of the control unit from the storage containers. The old IBM mainframe Direct Access Storage Device, DASD, had a 3880 Control unit which supported multiple strings of 3330 disks. This reduced cost and made it easier to scale storage systems, adding strings as more capacity was required. This is similar to the way Hitachi separates the intelligence of the USP V control unit from the storage frames. However, unlike the IBM 3880, the USP V also supports open systems and with virtualization, can attach other vendor’s storage frames through standard FC ports. 

Mike Brown is the CIO of Eclipse Aviation, which is revolutionizing the aviation industry with the delivery of the world’s first Very Light Jet, VLJ. This is a revolutionary new jet aircraft that is one third to one half the prices of the lowest cost jet aircraft and is safer and more economical than any jet plane in the air today. In order to ensure its safety and performance, it does extensive self monitoring which generates about 300GB of data per hour of flight time. VLJs are expected to open up air taxi services to local and regional airports and, at about $1.5 million a piece, opens up a new market for corporate and private ownership. Eclipse Aviation was founded by Vern Raburn, a computer industry pioneer who worked for Microsoft.

The history of the aviation industry has been about building larger and larger airplanes for economies of scale. Now the largest airplanes can only land at special terminals which have been modified to accommodate the size and passenger density of the aircraft. Eclipse has turned back the clock to building smaller more agile airplanes. This is the stuff I used to read about in Popular Mechanics when I was a kid.

In a similar way enterprise storage systems vendors are building larger and larger, monolithic storage system which is making it more difficult to access the data contained inside. Hitachi is addressing this problem through the separation of the intelligent control unit from the storage frames. Instead of buying a monolithic system with thousands of disk drives in it, the USP V enables you to buy storage when you need it, from which ever vendor you desire to do business with, and even attach existing storage that may be under utilized, or lacking the latest functionality. When this storage is attaches to the USP V, it is enhanced with all the latest functionality of the USP V. This system can start with a minimum of 5 disks and can scale to manage 247 petabytes of internal and external storage across hundreds, even thousands of storage frames. This storage system can be deployed with modular storage systems, distributed across FC distances, managed centrally, with essentially unlimited scalability. .

Yes, many architectural concepts do come back, to meet changing market requirements. When they do; they come back with new technologies which enable new efficiencies and capabilities.

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Comments (1)

William Chapman on 25 Sep 2007 at 1:00 pm

I own a “New/Old Stock” 3880 IBM Storage Controller(both units).

It was ordered by the U.S. Department of Energy, but never used/installed.

Is there a modern use for the controller? It has been in dry storage, sense 1995.

Thank you, W. Chapman

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