“Designers of data storage have, for many years, been held hostage by traditional thinking,” a recent Data Mobility Group (DMG) Research Study states.* “Disk solutions evolved from a transaction-based environment and storage was designed to meet the access, availability and reliability characteristics for transactional data. Monolithic and modular architectures dominated these environments, but for secondary data applications they lacked scalability, flexibility and affordability.”
As a result of such circumstances, countless IT organizations now have to balance demands for cost reductions and business and regulatory demands for storing a growing volume of data.
“The challenge facing storage administrators,” the DMG study states, “is how to manage the growth, maintain increasing service level expectations and keep within a budget that is flat or probably declining.”
According to IDC analyst Brad Nisbet, escaping the shackles of traditional thinking requires more focus on file-based storage. “There is no doubt that we see tremendous growth in data storage within enterprise organizations and enterprise data centers,” Nisbet says.
“Within that growth we’ve seen a shift from the more traditional database applications and block level applications to more file-centric types of environments. As we look into the future, it’s this tremendous growth in files that we expect to garner a lot of the attention.”
Receiving ample attention is the new HP StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100), which serves and stores hundreds of terabytes or petabytes of file-based data. Designed to be extremely scalable, affordable and easy to manage, the ExDS9100 can scale independently beyond traditional storage systems in both capacity and performance.
It supports up to 16 blades with up to 12.8 CPU cores per unit for an astounding 3.2Gb/second of raw performance. The ExDS9100 has a baseline storage capacity of 82 terabytes, while a single management interface allows the administrator to manage not just terabytes but multiple petabyte systems.
“We’ve taken everything we’ve learned over the last half-decade about massively scalable storage systems and applied it to the ExDS9100,” says Pete Brey, Worldwide Extreme Storage Business Development Manager at HP. “This system packs more into every cubic foot—more disk drives and more blades—than any other scale-out storage solution.”
Scalability without cost or complexity
In addition to sheer storage density, industry watchers have been bullish about the ExDS9100’s manageability and low cost of acquisition and operation.
“We performed hands-on testing of the ExDS9100, and it’s clear that HP has automated and integrated the complexity out of scale-out NAS,” says Tony Palmer, analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). “The ESG Lab Validation Report on the ExDS9100 shows that HP has created a massively scalable, capacity-optimized appliance that is shockingly easy to deploy, manage and upgrade.”
The DMG study went one step further and benchmarked the ExDS9100, comparing several cost of ownership factors against competing solutions from Isilon, NetApp and Sun to determine “the most effective, efficient and economical choice.”
“The results of DMG’s analyses are striking,” the study reveals. “The HP ExDS9100 has significantly lower cost of acquisition and lower operational costs than comparable alternatives. With a total solution list price below $2 per gigabyte for raw storage and its high storage density, the ExDS9100 offers attractive economics for fixed content, active archive data storage.”
Despite dramatic cost and management efficiencies, “the largest pain point is scalability,” Nisbet points out. “These vast pools of storage are extremely large and are only going to get bigger, so organizations need to be able to scale with that. In addition, many organizations have unpredictable growth patterns, so the ability to scale on the fly with minimal data management pain is going to be extremely attractive for these organizations.”
According to DMG, the ExDS9100 has the “flexibility to transparently assimilate advancements in technology as it matures. The ExDS9100 has the advantage in that it is highly granular so as each innovation becomes available the task of transparent integration is simplified.”