Midrange Arrays Inherit High-End Smarts

Virtualization layers, once a feature of only the most expensive storage subsystems, are beginning to ship with midrange storage systems.

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Virtualization layers, once a feature of only the most expensive storage subsystems, are beginning to ship with...

midrange storage systems.

For example, Hewlett-Packard recently introduced an entry-level version of its StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA). The EVA 2C2D starts with two controllers and two drive shelves, and as few as eight disk drives. Before the 2C2D, the smallest EVA was the 2C6D, with six drive shelves.

The thinking behind the EVA 2C2D is to give customers a cost-effective entry point into the EVA line, says Pete Korce, HP's director of enterprise storage arrays. "The message we were getting from our customers was that they wanted to start small," he says. Still, the 2C2D's two controllers can support up to 240 drives, which, assuming 72GB drives, translates to more than 17TBs.

And in the next couple of months, HP will add even less expensive models to its EVA line, Korce says. The low-end EVAs will have dual controllers, "but there are other features we can take out to reduce the cost."

The benefits of array-level virtualization revolve around better capacity utilization, performance and simplified management, advocates say. Other examples of arrays that include virtualization are Xiotech's Magnitude and StorageTek's V960 Shared Virtual Array, (SVA) arguably the grandfather of the species.

In a similar vein, Hitachi is bringing the port virtualization technology it developed for its 9900 series down to its new modular Thunder 9500 V, whereby servers are assigned to virtual ports on the array, rather than hard-wired in. "This is a very good thing," says David Hill, vice president of storage research at Aberdeen, because realistically, "all the ports aren't going to be in use at the same time."

Products such as the EVA 2C2D and 9500V exemplify a trend in the storage industry: the trickle down of high-end features into midrange systems, says Dianne McAdam, senior analyst with the Data Mobility Group. "Certainly, that's where the money is these days," she says.

This was first published in February 2003

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