Posts Tagged ‘FAST’

EMC didn’t invent Unified Storage; They Perfected it

June 29th, 2010

Hi Guys! Remember me! I’m apparently the one who upset some of you, enlightened others; and the rest of you.. well, you drove a lot of traffic here to get my blog to even beat out EMC’s main website as the primary source for information on "Unified Storage" (And for that, I appreciate it :))

In case any of you forgot some of those "target" posts, here they are for your reference! but I’m not here to start a fight! I’m here to educate and to direct my focus on not what this previously OVERLY discussed Unified Storage Guarantee was or is, but instead to drive down in to what Unified Storage will really bring to bear.   So, without further adieu!

What is Unified Storage?

I’ve seen a lot of definitions of what it is, quite frankly a lot of stupid definitions too. (My GOD I hate stupid definitions!)  But what does it mean when you Unify to you and me?   I could go on and on about the various ‘definitions’ of what it really is (and I even started WRITING that portion of it!) but instead I’m going to scrap all of that so I do not end up on my own list of ‘stupid definitions’ and instead will define Unified Storage at it’s simplest terms.

A unified storage system merges NAS and SAN. Optimized for performance and interoperability, the system simultaneously stores both file data and blocks of application data in virtually any operating environment

You can put your own take and spin on it, but at it’s guts that is seemingly what the basics of a "Unified Storage" system are; nothing special about it, NAS and SAN (hey, lots of people do that right?!)  You bet they do!   And this is by no way the definitive definition on what “Unified Storage” is, and frankly that is not my concern either.   So taking things to the next level; now that we have a baseline of what it takes to ‘get the job done’, now it’s time to evaluate the Cost of Living in a Unified Storage environment.

Unified Storage Architecture Cost of Living

I get it.  No really I do.   And I’m sure by now you’re tired of the conversation of ‘uniqueness’ focused on the following core areas:

    • Support for Mixed Clients
    • Support for multiple types (tiers) of disk
    • Simplified Provisioning
    • Thin Provisioning
    • Improving Utilization

All of these items are simply a FACT and an expectation when it comes to a Unified Platform.  (Forget unified, a platform in general)   Lack of support of multiple tiers, locking down to a single client, complicated provisioning which can only be done fat which makes you lose out on utilization and likely is a waste of time – That my friend is the cost of living.    You’re not going to introduce a wasteful fat obsolete system and frankly, I’m not sure of any (many) vendors who are actually delivering services which don’t meet on multiple of these criteria; So the question I’m asking is… Why do we continue to discuss these points?   I do not go to a car dealership and say “You know, I’m expecting a transmission in this car, you have a transmission right?”  And feel free to replace transmission with tires and other things you just flat out EXPECT.    It’s time to take the conversation to the next level though; because if you’ve ever talked to me you know how I feel about storage. “There is no inherent value of storage in and of itself without context or application.”   Thus… You don’t want spinning rust just for the sake to have it spin, no you want it to store something for you, and it is with that you need to invest in Perfection.

Unified Storage Perfection

What exactly is the idea of Unified Storage Perfection?   It is an epic nirvana whereby we shift from traditional thinking and takes NAS and SAN out of the business of merely rusty spindles and enable and engage the business to earn its keep.

Enterprise Flash Disks

Still storage, yet sexy in it’s own right.  Why?  First of all, it’s FAST OMFG FLASH IS SO FAST! And second of all, it’s not spinning, so it’s not annoying like the latest and greatest SAS, ATA or FC disk!    But what makes this particular implementation of EFD far sexier than simple consumer grade SSD’s is the fact that these things will guarantee you a consistent speed and latency through and through.   I mean, sure it’s nice that these things can take the sheer number of FC disks you’d need to run an aggressive SQL server configuration and optimize the system to perform, but it goes beyond that.   

Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST)

Think back to that high performance SQL workload you had a moment ago, there might come a time in the life of the business where your performance needs change; Nirvana comes a knocking and with the power of FAST enables you to dynamically, non-disruptively move from one tier of Storage (EFD, FC, SATA) to another, so you are guaranteed not only investment protection but scalability which grows and shrinks as your business does.    Gone are the days of ‘buy for what we might use one day’ and welcome are the days of Dynamic and Scalable business.

FAST Cache

Wow, is this the triple whammy or what?  Building upon the previous two points, this realm of Perfection is able to take the performance and speed of Enterprise Flash Disks and the concept of tiering your disks to let you use those same existing EFD disks to extend your READ and WRITE cache on your array!    FAST Cache accelerates performance to address unexpected workload spikes. FAST and FAST Cache are a powerful combination, unmatched in the industry, that provides optimal performance at the lowest possible cost.  (Yes I copied that from a marketing thingie, but it’s true and is soooooo cool!) 

FAST + FAST Cache = Unified Storage Performance Nirvana

So, let’s put some common sense on this then, because this is no joke, nor is it marketing BS.    You assign EFD’s to a specific workload you want to guarantee a certain speed and a certain response time (Win).    You have unpredictable workloads who may need to be fast some times, but may be slow other times on quarterly of yearly basis’s, so you leverage FAST to move that data around, but that’s your friend when you can PREDICT what is going to happen.    What about when it is slow most of the time, but then on June 29th you make a major announcement that you were not expecting to hit as hard as it did, and BAM! Your system goes in the tank because data sitting on FC or SATA couldn’t handle the load.   Hello FAST Cache, how I love you so.     Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE EFD’s and I wish all of my data could sit on them (At home a lot of it does ;)) and I have massive desire for FAST because I CAN move my workload around based upon predictable or planned patterns (Marry me!)  But FAST Cache is my superman, because he is there to save the day when I least expected it, he caches my reads when BOOM I didn’t know it was coming, but more importantly he holds my massive load of WRITES which come in JUST as unexpectedly.   So for you naysayers or just confused ones who wonder why you’d have one vs the other (vs) the other; Hopefully this example use-case is valuable.   Think about it in terms of your business, you could get away with one or the other, or all three… Either way, you’re a winner.

Block Data Compression

EMC is further advancing its storage efficiency innovation as the first storage provider to introduce block data compression, by allowing customers to compress inactive data and reclaiming valuable storage capacity— data footprints can be reduced by up to 50 percent. A common use case would be compressing inactive data once EMC FAST software has moved that data to the most cost-effective storage tier. Block data compression joins EMC’s existing capabilities, including thin provisioning and data deduplication, to automatically and transparently maximize storage utilization.

Yea, I DID copy that verbatim from a Press Release – And do you know why? Because it’s right! Even addresses a pretty compelling use-case too!   So think about it a moment.  Does this apply to you?  I’d never compress ALL of my data (reminisces back to the days of DoubleSpace where let’s just say, for any of us who lived it… those were interesting times ;)) But think about the volume of data which you have sitting on Primary Storage which is inactive and otherwise wasting space when it continues sitting un-accessed and consuming maximum capacity!  But this is more than just about that data type, unlike some solutions this it not an all or nothing.

Think if you could choose to compress on demand! Compress say… your virtual machine right out of vCenter! But wait there’s more!   And there’s so much more to say on this, let alone the things which are coming.. I don’t want to reveal what is coming, so I’ll let Mark Twomey do it where he did it here:  Storage Services for Clariion Storage Pool LUNs

What does all of this mean for me and Unified Storage?!

Whoa, hey now! What do you mean what does all of this mean?! Are you cutting me short?  Yes.  Yes I am. :)   There are some cool things coming, which I cannot talk about yet… and not to mention some of all of the new stuff coming in Q3 – But things I was talking about… that’s stuff I can talk about –TODAY- there’s only even better things and cake coming tomorrow :)

I can fill this with videos, decks, resources, references, Unisphere and every thing under the sun (You let me know if you really want that.. I’ve done that in the past as well)  But ideally, I want you to make your own decision, come to your own conclusions..  What does this mean for you?   Stop asking “What is Unified Storage” and start asking “What value can my business derive from technologies in order to save money, save time, save waste!”    I’ll try to avoid writing yet another article on this subject unless you so demand it! I look forward to all of your comments and feedback! :)

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Posted in Celerra, CLARiiON, Deduplication, Efficiency, emc, FAST, Hyper-V, Microsoft, NAS, Oracle, SATA, SQL, SSD, Storage, Technology, Unified Storage, vmware, vSphere | Comments (4)

Yes Virginia there IS FAST for the DMX! (Think FAST DMX3 and DMX4!)

February 16th, 2010

Today I sat down with some of our favorite Presidents, and St Valentines since he was free after his holiday was over.  And we decided to discuss what should be announced this week.    With the importance of these holidays in order and the fact that the Olympics are on – the only Olympic and Presidential decision we could come to conclusion on was…

FAST for the DMX!

Whoa, hold on there wait just one minute.   You said DMX4 AND the DMX3?!? Are you serious?!?!

Why yes sweetheart! (yea I know you san admins LOVE to be called sweetheart :)) This does infact support the DMX3 and the DMX4, but because I didn’t find it on my first google search after spending a few seconds (I know you’ll do the same ;)) so the caveat which all of you hardcore DMX3’ers know – the fact that the DMX3 supports only fibre-channel drives. But now that we have that put to the side, let’s discuss what this means for your environment today!

Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) for Symmetrix DMX enables your system to automate the movement of data across differing drive types based upon your performance characteristics.  However, unlike the VMAX which allows you to move across both “Drive Types” AND “Protection Types” the DMX supports only moving across Drive Types.     So if you have a short stroked configuration today running across a boatload of Fibre Channel disks (Oh you clearly know who you are :)) You can start to do what it takes to move that workload non-disruptively to a smaller sampling of Enterprise Flash Disks, and I’m sure your facilities people will instantly fall in love with you (Valentines day! :))

Okay nay sayers, it’s time for you to step up and say “DMX 3 FAST sounds stupid, WTF is that for? It’s FC Only! /end whine” :)   Yea, I’m with you guy, I totally get that.  I have an investment in DMX3’s on the floor today and I want to find SOME way to take advantage of this before I’m completely off of maint and I start swapping systems out for VMAX’s (You know you want to..:))

What value you’ll be able to get here, is since it is FC only, fortunately FC has been tiered within itself for such a long time – through different disk sizes, and different speed types (10k, 15k) So this can atleast allow you to take your applications which don’t require that 15k workload and move it off to your “less critical” 10k disk infrastructure and still allow you to leverage the investment you have on the floor until such a time that you’re ready to upgrade to a DMX4 or V-MAX.    If you’re that guy who happens to have the fully loaded DMX3 15k infrastructure of all the same size disks – Hey, it’s a good problem to have, and in that case the FAST for DMX3 will NOT be the solution you’re looking for.    I’m not sure what percentage of folks are in that particular bucket, but it’s nice to have options :)

Alright, now that I’ve spent nearly have the blog post discussing how to leverage this within the DMX3, I want you to make sure to realize that the DMX4 is still an excellent platform especially for it’s supportability for FLASH and SATA which will let you leverage this to great proportions!    So get out there, contact your rep or TC and get rolling on upgrading to Enginuity 5773.155.107!

I want to make special mention of Barry Burke’s post on this subject 2.040: dmx gets some fast love! a definite must read as it covers a whole bunch of OTHER features now available in the DMX line which all of you VMAX’ers are loving today.    So make sure you read his post as well!

And if you’re looking for information on FAST for the V-MAX, please refer to: One Stop Shop for Symmetrix V-Max Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) docs!

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Posted in DMX, emc, FAST, VMAX | Comments (2)

One Stop Shop for EMC Celerra FAST and CLARiiON FAST docs!

December 15th, 2009

Welcome to Episode 2 in a series around information for you regarding EMC FAST! (Also known as Fully Automated Storage Tiering!)

You may recall from Episode 1 that I said this was something I am extremely excited about – and I thought I made that clear!  

To tell you the truth at first I was mainly excited about the V-MAX FAST, and didn’t even give much thought to the whole "Unified" Celerra FAST or  CLARiiON FAST

That was until I started to delve into the details, find, sort and collect the documents (which I unveil for you to find here!) and not to mention all of the other features above and beyond just FAST! That is what got me excited for FAST beyond the V-MAX!  So I hope this collection of documents gets you going in the right direction so you can become just as excited about FAST for the Celeriion just as I AM :)

I know a lot of you are looking for materials and information regarding FAST – There are numerous questions you have regarding this and since a lot of you are self-starters, I’m going to tell you what information I directly know about today, and where to get it!

Available today on PowerLink are the following documents around Celerra FAST and CLARiiON FAST in the areas of Introduction, Implementation and Solution

The documents below require credentials on EMC’s PowerLink – so please keep that in mind when it comes to accessing the links!

Being that I’ve consolidated Celerra and CLARiiON into a single post, you might be asking “Well, what value do I get from either or both of these?!” Here is a Features and Benefits list!

Celerra Features Celerra Benefits CLARiiON Features CLARiiON Benefits
Robust policy engine Automate storage tiering to lower costs and deliver higher service levels User-defined analysis Simplify storage tiering to lower costs and deliver higher service levels
Intuitive interface Create a policy, define the rules, and then save and enact the policy Intuitive management Leverage software that analyzes data and recommends where it should be migrated
Transparent mobility Access data without changes to users and applications Transparent mobility Move and access data without changes to users and applications
In-the-box tiering Leverage up to three tiers in the same Celerra system User-approved migrations Gain visibility into what is moving, when it moves and where it moves
Outside-the-box tiering Enable Celerra, Centera, or Atmos as the target for third-tier storage Tiered storage support Leverage Flash, Fibre Channel and SATA drive technologies
Storage efficiencies Deduplicate and compress files on Celerra systems    

I know what you’re saying “Wow Christopher, you got those marketing terms down pat!” hee, but seriously, those are quoted verbatim from the links mentioned above.   However, one hard solid benefit of Celerra you need to make sure you’re always aware of is the fact that on its own, Celerra largely reduces your backup window.  Add FAST to Celerra and watch out!

So, I hope you get as much joy and excitement out of this new launch and technology which will revolutionize the way you not only do business but by the way you think about SLA’s and business problems in the future.   I’ll cover specific details of how this has solved real hard business problems for customers so you can enjoy those successes like I have!

I’ve provided these direct links using PowerLink and a Partner account (not employee)  – Please advise if for whatever reason you’re unable to find something and I’ll be sure to get that taken care of and the document in front of you!   Also, if you come across a document I missed and you think should be included, raise the roof and let me know and I’ll be sure to get it featured here! Not to mention if you find a particular document to be overly useful, feel free to comment on that fact, I’d love to know which would be a better doc to re-read or recc’ to others!

I’m really excited about this and your questions are what will make me and the whole community as a whole a lot more knowledgeable around this subject! So Keep em coming!

Be sure to check out my other posts about EMC FAST: One Stop Shop for Symmetrix V-Max Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) docs! and FAST from EMC – Performance meet the quickening!

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Posted in Celerra, CLARiiON, emc, FAST, SSD, Storage, Technology | Comments (4)

One Stop Shop for Symmetrix V-Max Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) docs!

December 9th, 2009

Welcome to Episode 1 in a series around information for you regarding EMC FAST! (Something I’m extremely excited about)

I know a lot of you are looking for materials and information regarding FAST – There are numerous questions you have regarding this and since a lot of you are self-starters, I’m going to tell you what information I directly know about today, and where to get it!

Available today on PowerLink are the following documents around for V-Max FAST in the areas of Introduction, Implementation and Solution

The documents below require credentials on EMC’s PowerLink – so please keep that in mind when it comes to accessing the links!

Whoa, wait a minute – Are you saying there is already a Best Practices guide and solutions already built out for every major application under the sun? (psst, yes I am saying that :))

I’ve provided these direct links using PowerLink and a Partner account (not employee)  – Please advise if for whatever reason you’re unable to find something and I’ll be sure to get that taken care of and the document in front of you!   Also, if you come across a document I missed and you think should be included, raise the roof and let me know and I’ll be sure to get it featured here! Not to mention if you find a particular document to be overly useful, feel free to comment on that fact, I’d love to know which would be a better doc to re-read or recc’ to others!

I’m really excited about this and your questions are what will make me and the whole community as a whole a lot more knowledgeable around this subject! So Keep em coming!

I’m looking forward to producing a similar single point of capture list for Clariion FAST and Celerra FAST as well, so that’ll be coming soon!

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Posted in emc, FAST, SSD, Storage, Symmetrix, V-Max | Comments (5)

FAST from EMC – Performance meet the quickening!

December 8th, 2009

For those of you who know me (and even those who don’t) What is important to know is – I love innovation.  I especially love it when something is introduced which does the right thing while removing the need to think about things which frankly we DON’T need to be thinking about (Though ignorance aside, not making it so we cannot think nor take action on our own – thus action without the nanny effect – which is often seen by some announcements which think you can’t be trusted with your own investment!)

Looking at the particular challenge storage brings us – it’s always been a delicate balance of “What kind of storage do I put my APP on” “How do I meet SLA’s for the peak load” and of course “Whatever decision I make today is locked in stone for the next 3-5 years so I better design appropriately”.    If you disagree that these harp on the extremely delicate balance of App v Infrastructure please let me know you’re feelings :)

Now while I absolutely love to have those design conversations above – The time has finally come where we don’t need to have a doctorate in ‘application layout’ or get religion around IOPS Latency calculation workloads in order to accommodate a mixed application environment.   That has come through the creation of FAST by EMC.     FAST which is an acronym for “Fully Automated Storage Tiering” actually does what it says on the tin!   

Think about it for a moment.  What if I simply laid my applications out on disk and let the workload dictate what kind of storage my app should live on, and unless I have specific requirements, let my SLA’s really run the show.    This would take the complicated work of ‘figuring it out’ which frankly is an arduous task and leave that up to the deep analytics to figure it out – End result means you have more time to work on other projects and you start to give back and perform like never before.

But that is not to say this is infallible – Storage is almost as bad as the Database world, whereby people not only WANT control over what happens, when and why, but DEMAND it!  And this gives you that power.   I somewhat relate FAST to DRS from VMware – Let the system analyze what IS happening, and based upon past performance and utilization, predict what would be a good fit – And if you agree you can APPROVE the change the system has put forth.   Or if you have reached a point of being comfortable that it’s acting in your best interests – Allow it to automatically move data – People usually start off with DRS in a “Manual” approval mode, and then quickly roll into “automated” because if 99 suggestions the system made were good, there’s a good chance that 100th suggestion will be a good fit as well.

But just like DRS for VMware, there are exceptions: And it is in these exceptions that you have a POLICY defined to ensure that your will is enforced and things you don’t want to happen – DONT!

So lets get down to basics!  What does this mean for you and me?  

  • For once in our sad lives, we’ll be able to implement both FLASH and SATA into a traditional FC system and have the right disks spinning for the right apps.
    • Imagine it! Predictable workloads are EASY to assign to the right tier (sort of) but imagine those unpredictable apps, or even Month-end Apps!
      • Whoa! Are you saying I can take my somewhat stable monthly app which hits its Peak for month-end and move it around based upon the applications performance requirements?!   Just think about it – High IOPS, High Throughput, FAST latency response times – all the benefits of FLASH when it’s needed, but the cost of SATA when it isn’t.  
      • Next thing you’re going to tell me, I could be a seasonal business like a retailer or similar and shift my workload over to FLASH disk non-disruptively for the extreme peak workload, and then shift it back off to SATA when it’s not being hit quite so hard. :)
      • Oh and this means so much more, but it’s late and I want to publish this without overflowing you with information ;)

But this is far more than just simply allowing you to manage your dynamic workloads and ensure that the right storage is being used at the right time.  Across the stack this can be an enabler when it comes to times of legal discovery, long term data retention and archival, and fast response in situations of disputes or otherwise.  

Alright, but what does all of this mean, and why should I care? (read: Why are you so excited about it Christopher? :))

Active ESX Cluster Without FAST Same Cluster with Flash and FAST Policy
Active ESX Cluster without FAST Active ESX Cluster adding FLASH and applying a FAST Policy
384 Fibre Channel Disks
100% FC Disk
Disk resources are ~80% Busy
368 FC Disks, 16 Flash Disks
96% FC, 4% Flash
68% less disk I/O contention
2.5% faster disk response time

The little chart above is a basic breakdown of what you can very easily realize.  Those little images are called “HEAT Maps” If you can see the little legend on the left, the more RED something is, the more busy it is which means your disks are getting hit pretty hard (Notice how for the most part all of disks are either HOT or very HOT)  

What does this mean for me from an operational perspective? I didn’t have to get in loads of engineers and architects to sit around and say “How do you think we should lay out the data to best most efficient on these new 16 Flash Drives we added?” No.  The system analyzed the workload and over a couple of days came to a conclusion “This LUN will move from FC to Flash” and all of a sudden our performance started to shine, without having to take any outage, any downtime – Hell we didn’t even need to try to figure out what we should do – We could let it collect data and then advise us (since its algorithms know things about the operation of the system we can only guess about!)

What would have been even sweeter is if this example had SATA in the mix as well – Because then we’d have the question of what should get shifted from where to where! Take a look at this pretty straight forward workload chart showing which LUNs are more active than others

image Is this chart a guarantee that all environments look like this? Absolutely not.   I know of one specific heavy SAP environment which has a majority of its disk look like good flash targets and none of them look like a good fit for SATA.  However, a majority of environments DO have some things which likely aren’t on the most ideal of storage – And when you consider consolidation, that story only gets even more compelling.  

So, if you have a dedicated frame which is maxed out for a single app – You definitely want to consider FAST in the equation because it can help determine your best fit for FLASH, and if SATA is a player at all (in v1 of FAST) then excellent.

v2 of FAST will change all the rules

Though what I’m sure you like just as much as I do – is a real live example, so check out this Video, which was delivered at VMworld 2009!

And here we are, in a new era, a new level of sophistication the likes if you has never been seen before (Oh, there have been ‘attempts’ at producing solutions which are effectively ‘features’ but the full picture and depth of what today brings about – There is not a candle in the industry which can hold to this maelstrom!

Also, for reference – Here is the official Press Announcement from Today!

(One more Video!!!)

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Posted in Cloud, emc, SSD, Storage | Comments (8)

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