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Storage Virtualization Plays a Key Role in VSP Adoption

by Hu Yoshida on Aug 2, 2011

Today, we announced we have shipped 1,400 Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) systems since its announcement in September of last year. Many of our customers are reporting 50% improvement in performance over competitive products as well as significant savings in power cooling and floor space.

One of the unique features of VSP is the ability to virtualize and extend the benefits of VSP’s storage computer to externally attached storage systems. Our support of VMware VAAI primitives for storage systems that can not support it natively attracts customers to a great extent.

Competitors always try to raise doubts about the use of external storage virtualization, so we recently went into our tracking systems to see where it is really being used.  Here is a top ten list of VSP systems that are installed with external storage virtualized behind it.


Three of the largest external storage installations are installed with no internal storage. Customers bought them specifically for their virtualization capability.

Here is a comparable top ten list for USP V, which has been available since 2007.


The largest external storage environment has 1.4 PB virtualized behind USP V. This consists of 24 storage frames from different vendors. USP V required some internal storage. USP VM was required if you only wanted the external storage virtualization, but with VSP you can start with a diskless VSP and grow it non-disruptively as you scale up, out and  deep through external storage.  Currently, the amount of storage virtualized behind USP V is larger than what we have with VSP but we are comparing a product that has been out for over 4 years versus a product that has only been available for ten months. As times goes on, we expect to see the amount of storage virtualized behind VSP to be much larger.

A major part of VSP’s success is its ability to virtualize external storage systems and increase the return on existing assets. This changes the investment in VSP from an ROI to a much larger ROA, or Return On Assets benefit.

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Comments (6 )

Sebastian Thäle on 02 Aug 2011 at 2:59 pm

Interesting figures. No doubt about the benefits of external storage virtualization, but why do you call it unique knowing that there is the SVC and the V7000 out there which support a wider range of external storages? (Yes, I work for IBM)

Hu Yoshida on 04 Aug 2011 at 8:15 pm

Hello Sebastian,

I used the term unique to describe VSP’s ability to map VAAI functionality to externally attached storage. I was not aware that the SVC or the V7000 could to this for external storage without remapping the extents on the external storage from managed extents to virtual extents as in the case of the SVC. Has this changed?

Sebastian Thaele (@Zyrober) on 05 Aug 2011 at 2:20 pm

SVC offers the full VAAI support regardless which storage system is behind it. Nothing changed for the connection between SVC and it’s backend storage. I see no need to change it either. I have to admit that I have no idea about what you mean with “without remapping the extents on the external storage from managed extents to virtual extents”. VAAI is between the ESX and the SVC. The backend storages don’t have to care about it at all and that’s actually the benefit, because the ESX can offload copys to the SVC, can use block zeroing for the SVC’s thin provisioning and can use the hardware assisted lock on the SVC. The backend storage will not even notice it. The V7000 uses the same code.
Does the VSP use another approach here?

Hu Yoshida on 05 Aug 2011 at 4:36 pm

With the VSP, I can attached external storage and discovery their existing LUNs. Once I discover the LUNs I can present them in the VSP cache as VSP LUNs and apply the VAAI primatives to the I/O against those LUNs. In the SVC I believe you have to create something called a Managed extent which then gets mapped into a Virtual extent before you can use it. Can you provide VAAI primitives directly to external storage with out remapping them?

Sebastian Thaele (@Zyrober) on 05 Aug 2011 at 5:24 pm

Hmm… I think what you describe is called an image mode volume (http://bit.ly/qZjX7Q) in SVC terms. I see no reason why VAAI should not work with them. Unfortunately I cannot check back with the internal resources about that, because I’m in vacation at the moment. But technically I see no showstopper here, because the frames should still go through the SVC layers. In fact the “remapping” that you _can_ do is a big benefit as it allows you to stripe the data over the backend disks. With SVC you are not bound to the backend disks’ formats, sizes or numbers.

Aruna on 24 Aug 2011 at 7:41 am

Hi Hu,

Let me try a different marketing-mix :) … Average 7 VSPs per (working) day !

What is the average % of vitalization deployments (for external capacity and migration benefits) ?

Happy selling !

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