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Storage Switzerland’s post on doing more with less misses an important point

by Hu Yoshida on Mar 20, 2009

George Crump of Storage Switzerland posted “Your Storage Has To Do More With Less, Too” on InformationWeek’s Storage Blog. He made some excellent points about the need for storage virtualization but I think he missed one of the most important points – the ability for virtualization to enhance commodity storage.

In this post he talks about the need for virtualization in combination with thin provisioning to make “storage systems easier to use, easier to scale, and smarter about managing storage”. He also talks about going beyond virtualization with the creation of what he calls “virtual domains” to “allow for delegation of the storage management process without compromising the integrity of the overall storage system”. At HDS we call that logical partitioning, the ability to ensure that multiple users can share the same virtual storage system without the danger of data leakage, escalation of management privileges, or performance impact from another user’s behavior. This has been part of our virtualization products from the beginning in 2004 and has Common Criteria certification.

As far as the combination of storage virtualization and thin provisioning goes, that is also available in our enterprise USP V and our midrange USP VM. In our case we do more than thin provisioning. Our implementation is called Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning, HDP, since it can provision pages of storage dynamically from a preformatted pool of storage, do thin moves and copies, zero page reclaims,  and improve performance by striping pages across the width of the HDP storage pool. With storage virtualization HDP storage pool can consist of   externally attached storage from other vendors.

George also points out the need for automation, “In a do more with less world, asking the business to wait while the storage manager stops to design LUNs, tries to find capacity, or becomes the single point of bottleneck in deployment is no longer acceptable..”  We agree. In addition to Dynamic Provisioning, the USP V/VM has an integrated suite of software products which enable users to monitor capacity and bandwidth and feed alerts to a policy manager for movement of data across tiers of storage or another policy manager for replication.

The point about virtualization that George missed is the ability for virtualization to enhance commodity storage with enterprise performance and functionality. Since the USP V/VM is an enterprise class storage controller with a large global cache and 32 to 128 high performance processors, it can enhance the performance of commodity storage, and enable it with enterprise functionality like load balancing, remote replication, dynamic tiering, and dynamic provisioning.

Storage virtualization should be able to commoditize storage capacity, by separating the storage controller intelligence from the commodity media – and enable us to do more with less storage.

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Comments (3 )

A Rose By Any Other Name - Storage Informer on 25 Mar 2009 at 12:45 pm

[...] My last post on Storage Switzerland’s post on storage virtualization seemed to have generated some interest in the storage blogging community.  StorageBod focused on my comment that Storage virtualization with the USP V can enhance commodity storage with the enterprise functions of the USP V controller.  He comes to the conclusion that the USP V is “simply an array controller” and not truly virtualization.  He offers the suggestion that we should sell the USP V as an array controller with the ability to attach any disk that provides the “best deal of the day”.  He gets support from one of his readers, Martin G, who made the comment that  ” .. if we look at them like that, they both (USP v and SVC) become less scarey but also slightly less special but still extremely useful. “   [...]

[...] Hu makes a point in his latest blog entry in that Storage Virtualisation allows the end-user to turn commodity disk into enterprise disk by [...]

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