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HP and HDS say automated tiered storage is on the way in 2010

It’s that time of year again, the time when we take stock of the past 12 months and look ahead to what’s coming in the New Year. This week, a topic on many minds was automated tiered storage in the wake of EMC’s shipment of version 1 of its long-awaited FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) feature for Clariion, Symmetrix and Celerra disk arrays.

EMC competitors Hitachi Data Systems and Hewlett-Packard say they will have something similar, and they deny EMC has beaten them to the punch because FAST will not have block-level access coming until the second half of 2010 at the earliest. IBM is working on similar data placement software.

HDS’s Hu Yoshida pointed out that HDS has had a Tiered Storage Manager offering available that moves volumes among tiers of storage. It’s not the sub-LUN level experts have said will be necessary to spur enterprise SSD adoption, but then again, Yoshida said, neither is FAST version 1.

“EMC has been doing this for some time,” Yoshida pointed out, citing the SymOptimizer software that was available for DMX3 and DMX4, which at one EMC customer said caused his array to lock when it performed migrations (EMC says FAST does not lock the entire array, just the devices where data is being swapped).

Yoshida also said he wondered why EMC bothered with FAST 1. “It’s usually easier to start with the smallest unit, the chunk or page, than the LUN,” he said. “There’s also more benefit to customers with dynamic provisioning, and moving less data around means the performance overhead on the system’s internal bandwidth is lower.”

Yoshida said HDS is working on page-level automated tiered storage movement for next year.

Kyle Fitze, marketing director for the HP storage division, said HP will also have something similar to FAST next year. “We think that having policy-based automated migration is a key component for driving adoption of solid-state drives, which are still a very small single-digit percentage of the overall volume of disk drives shipped,” Fitzke said. Like HDS, HP has offerings that can move data nondisruptively today, but not automatically according to policy.

Also, at the high-end, HP and HDS’s disk array are one and the same under the covers — the HDS USP-V, which HP OEMs as the XP. It will be interesting to see if the automation each exec was talking about will come from one place or two…

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