A dynamic four-tier storage design

The enterprise-level products InfoPro looked at were "best of breed" in March 2007. Three products -- the EMC DMX-3, HP StorageWorks XP12000 disk array and Sun StorageTek 9990V System -- could support a 1 PB-plus storage subsystem. (The HP and Sun systems are rebranded Hitachi Data Systems Universal Storage Platform [USP] 1100 units.) The IBM DS series product didn't make the grade as it couldn't meet the 1 PB-plus native requirement, and the EMC DMX-3 supported expansion beyond 1 PB only with its own disk array units. Since the HP and Sun systems were essentially the same product (from Hitachi), it didn't make sense to buy HP and risk installing a non-Sun-certified system. But throwing HP out of the running didn't mean that a decision had been made. Because Sun certifies EMC equipment, InfoPro decided to lower the 1 PB requirement and compare the Sun system with the EMC system.

EMC's DMX-3 vs. Sun's StorageTek 9990V

EMC and Sun take different approaches to enterprise storage implementation. EMC's DMX-3 is more network-centric, while Sun's 9990V has a built-in controller and firmware. They also differ in I/O subsystem approach: The DMX has a point-to-point bus with a direct matrix architecture, while the 9990V has a crossbar switch with a built-in controller. (See "Comparison of Sun 9990V and EMC DMX-3," below, for more differences.)


Comparison of

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Sun 9990V and EMC DMX-3

Sun 9990V


Addresses up to 32 PB external storage with virtualization; certified drives not required; I/O channels share 64 GB cache

Limited to 575 TB addressable storage internally only (with 300 GB drives); doesn't support external virtualization; drives must be EMC certified; I/O channels limited to 16 GB shared cache

Supports an internal capacity of up to 332 TB; supports RAID 6 for increased redundancy and reliability

Supports an internal capacity of 575 TB; doesn't support RAID 6

Uses a built-in controller that supports virtualization of internal and external multivendor storage (up to 32 PB); software relies on proprietary controller

Uses network-based Invista application; software relies on switch-based intelligence

Uses logical partitioning via built-in controller for internal and external storage; management software is simple yet lacks some functionality

Uses an in-array tiering approach that supports increased granularity of functions and autoprovisioning; no external tier capability; software is more complex

The 9990V received points for its flexibility and management advantages. Because it can use lower cost, tier 2 storage and manage it as tier 1 storage via a single Web interface, it offered the agency greater flexibility for purchasing and configuring disk. The system would also allow creation of internal and external (tier 1 and tier 2) RAIDs and LUNs of varying sizes and levels without configuration BIN files. Finally, because the agency's server hardware was already primarily Sun equipment, there would be a big advantage in using it for storage hardware as there would be no compatibility disputes or certification issues to be concerned about.

This was first published in May 2009

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