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HP puts solid state in EVA storage arrays

Hewlett-Packard's new EVA6400 and EVA8400 midrange storage systems offer customers the option of a solid-state drive (SSD) tier zero, but the price is probably still too hefty for widespread adoption.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. tuned up its Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) midrange storage platform today, becoming the latest vendor to support solid-state drives (SSDs) in its arrays and adding management features.

The firm rolled out the EVA6400 and EVA8400 arrays, which replace the EVA6100 and 8100 models. The EVA6400 scales to 216 TB and supports 8 GB of cache, while the EVA8400 scales to 324 TB and 22 GB of cache.

HP followed EMC Corp., Hitachi Data Systems, IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. with support for SSDs from STEC Inc. The new EVAs will support between six and eight 72 GB Fibre Channel (FC) SSD drives, along with FC and Fibre Attached Technology Adapted (FATA) drives.

HP also added what it calls virtualized RAID 6 or VRAID 6. VRAID 6 lets customers set up dual parity across every logical volume on an array so they can automatically grow and shrink data sets and survive the loss of two disks, according to Kyle Fitze, HP's marketing director, storage platforms.

The company has already disclosed plans to add solid state with NAND Flash-based storage adapters through a partnership with Fusion-io. Fitze said HP will expand its support of SSD in both the array and server going forward.

"We're deploying solid-state drives across our portfolio," he said. "We're putting it in server blades and adding a new tier in EVA arrays."

With this release, HP hasn't changed the way its controllers handle data to more effectively move data across tiers to better take advantage of SSDs.

"At this point, I don't think that's a problem because people are largely in a wait-and-see mode for implementing SSD," said Dave Russell, research vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. "But you don't want to look deficient if you're one of the major vendors who doesn't claim SSD support. Everybody's got this new tier 0."

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Mark Peters, an analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), said a recent ESG survey showed that approximately two-thirds of enterprise users are evaluating or interested in SSDs vs. the small number of respondents using them.

"That interest has not shown itself in adoption, but I fully expect it to do so over the next couple or years," Peters said.

Hewlett-Packard will price its SSDs at $270 per GB, or $19,499 for a 72 GB drive. Its Fibre Channel drives range from $6 to $11 per GB based on capacity.

Ed Volkstorf, operations coordinator at Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville, Va., said he's considering replacing one of his older EVA5000 systems with an EVA6400 next year to go with the EVA8100 he acquired in 2008. But Volkstorf said SSD isn't in his plans.

"It's probably for more I/O-intense applications than we have," he said. "I don't think it's a good fit for us, and it's probably costly."

Augusta Medical Center employs its EVAs for disaster recovery (DR) and for large file data such as those used in a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) to store medical test images.

"We primarily bought the 8100 for DR. Every six hours it makes a snapshot of our database and shoots that snapshot across campus to a legacy EVA5000 located there," Volkstorf said.

HP hasn't yet added native thin provisioning for EVAs, although it offers thin provisioning for EVA and other storage systems in its HP StorageWorks SAN Virtualization Services Platform (SVSP) 2.1 virtualization switch. It also added Linux support for its Dynamic Capacity Manager (DCM) software that's designed to reduce overallocation. DCM previously supported only Windows.

Pricing starts at $24,240 for the EVA6400 and at $61,456 for the EVA8400, but that's with controllers only and no storage. An EVA8400 with 27 TB of FC drives and Command View management software costs approximately $340,000; an EVA6400 with 15 TB of FC drives and Command View is around $190,000.


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