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By | Chris Mellor 22nd June 2010 10:17

HP converges on itself with bulked up storage offering

EVA Clusters, mid-range dedupe and iSCSI box

HP has upgraded its storage offerings as part of a Converged Infrastructure (CI) announcement, making EVAs clusterable, enhancing mid-range dedupe and introducing a new LeftHand iSCSI box.

It's announced a raft of new servers as well as storage.

CI is HP's integrated IT stack, its response to Cisco entering the server market and building integrated server stacks with EMC and VMware. Since David Donatelli joined HP from EMC to run its ESS servers, storage and networking business, the company has moved to making big quarterly announcements like this rather than streaming them out continuously.

First up is the ability to have pre-built EVA mid-range storage array clusters.

EVA Cluster

HP's new EVA Cluster is a pre-configured and tested factory system using EVA 6400/8400 arrays, with two Fibre Channel (FC) switches and an Ethernet switch included, as well as a Data Path Module (DPM) pair. HP says the DPMs "are intelligent switch-like devices that perform the virtualisation of data at switch-like speeds".

They are sourced from LSI (pdf), which acquired them when it bought StoreAge a few years ago, and contain a Xeon processor and 2GB of RAM. They interconnect host servers with the EVA cluster and virtualise its storage.

A basic 2-node cluster can scale to 624 disk drives and 16 solid state drives (SSD). The 6-node maximum EVA Cluster Domain can have up to 1.9PB of data stored on 1,872 1TB FATA (Fibre Channel Attached, Technology Adapted) drives and 48 SSDs. All the storage is configured into a single virtual pool with a single point of management (Command View SVSP).

Thin provisioning is supported as is LUN migration between the cluster's arrays. The cluster software provides a volume manager, optional SVSP (SAN Virtualisation Services Platform) Business Copy (local replication using snapshots), and SVSP Continuous Access for remote replication. You can expand beyond six nodes by adding another DPM pair and increasing the FC switch configuration with more ports. It's possible to connect selected third-party arrays from IBM, EMC, Sun and SGI as well; not NetApp though, nor HDS.

You can get quick cluster specs here (PDF).

The HP StorageWorks EVA Cluster FIO Starter Kit pricing starts from €59,000 with two EVA nodes.

P4800 BladeSystem SAN

HP has a new P4800 BladeSystem SAN which holds up to 63TB of data across four storage blades with 40 disk drives each. It is intended for virtual desktop applications and works with both VMware View and Hyper-V with Citrix XenDesktop.

The P4800 BladeSystem SAN is a component in HP's CI client virtualisation reference architecture, the first such pre-sized and pre-tested component or template, which is intended to make purchase and deployment fast and simple. HP says it supports up to 1,600 desktop users and claims it does so "at 50 per cent less cost and requires 60 per cent less space than traditional client virtualisation implementations".

The P4800 BladeSystem SAN starts from €190,000.

Deduplication

The third element of HP's announcement blitz is a deduplication offering called StoreOnce. HP says it is a second generation product, and installed on its D2D2500 and D2D4312 products. The technology is an in-house HP Labs development offering concurrent deduplication, that is deduplication concurrent with data ingest. This implies, although HP did not actually say this, that it does not use either the Permabit Albireo or Ocarina deduplication software code stacks.

Interestingly Ocarina is putting out a message about using its dedupe code throughout the data lifecycle, deduping once and only regenerating the original data when access is needed by end users or applications. It's not too far away from HP's message so maybe Ocarina has scored an OEM supply deal with HP.

HP says StoreOnce can be deployed at multiple points in its CI, being usable on backup clients, virtual appliances, inline appliances, and storage arrays. However, it is separate technology from that used in the high-end Sepaton-sourced VLS product which is a virtual tape library (VTL), and which HP continues to sell. But then the VLS product is not part of HP's CI. This announcement could be construed as bad news for Sepaton's long-term prospects within HP.

HP claims StoreOnce has a performance advantage of up to 20 per cent for inline deduplication. We understand this to be against Data Domain, and it has been pointed out to us by a source familiar with what's involved that the numbers used are for VTL and CIFS only. The majority of Data Domain systems deployed use NFS or BOOST.

Part of the performance seen on StoreOnce comes from HP Labs concepts, such as sparse indexing, and smart index and data layout, which reduces disk fragmentation and increases, HP says, I/O efficiency, reducing memory and disk I/O requirements.

Richard Masterson, the UK StorageWorks country manager, said:"We can elevate the deduplication application to a software-based data services layer in the future." Hypothetically he agreed this could include working on the same hardware as the LeftHand-based iSCSI storage and the EVA storage. However: "At the moment it's a D2D phenomenon."

So StoreOnce will be integrated into virtual appliances, tape backup and scale-out storage systems for the future. Clearly HP has an eye on NetApp's A-SIS dedupe technology here.

The D2D4312 has a starting price of $94,999. Existing D2D customers can get StoreOnce software through a download.

New Virtual Connect card

HP is using Emulex's OneConnect Ethernet interface card as its Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port module card, which is plugged into ProLiant G7 blade servers and provides a single module, Paul Kember HP's UK ISS Country Manager, said, for Ethernet, iSCSI and Fibre Channel.

It connects HP BladeSystem server blades to data and storage networks using industry standard protocols including 1Gbit or 10Gbit Ethernet; 2, 4 or 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel; and iSCSI. The new modules consolidate four interconnect modules into one and optimise application bandwidth.

Kember said: "Before we had separate Ethernet and Fibre Channel. Now there is just one module with Ethernet and Fibre Channel and the customer allocating it dynamically to Ethernet, iSCSI or Fibre Channel. … It's component consolidation [and] lowers the customer cost of procuring kit [and] power consumption drops too."

"We will also have a Qlogic equivalent soon enough... (I'm) not sure when."

The Emulex OneConnect product has a licensable upgrade to Fibre Channel over Ethernet technology. HP said nothing about this, talking about physical Fibre Channel connectivity instead. It says Virtual Connect, when combined with its networking products and technologies, "comprise the next-generation, highly scalable data centre fabric of HP’s Converged Infrastructure architecture".

HP is intent on establishing CI in the marketplace, saying it uses open standards, so customers need not fear lock-in. Customers will reap the benefits of HP's $60Bn supply chain, getting better value components and a faster evolution of component technologies. It seems to want us to understand that HP is pressing ahead faster than Acadia, the Cisco/EMC/VMware vBlock implementation company, and that it is fundamentally more open, with its Hyper-V support. ®

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