Guest Editorial: Store Not, Want Not.
HP customers who follow the company know that HP has invested in building and staffing an entire division devoted to enterprise storage solutions. Agreements with Hitachi for disk array hardware and the purchase of Transoft, with its SAN Manager software, position HP as an enterprise information infrastructure supplier. "IBM and Compaq have long had an enterprise storage unit, but now companies like HP, Sun and Dell are moving quickly to implement a global storage strategy and presence," according to Farid Neema, President of Peripheral Concepts, an independent storage industry analysis and consulting firm.
Two converging concepts are driving this storage management evolution. The first is the need for bandwidth. More data is being requested, captured and stored than ever. Enter Fibre Channel with a 100MB+ per second data transfer pipeline. Fibre Channel is emerging as the technology of choice for moving massive amounts of data over extended distances. Current high-bandwidth SCSI channel connections are limited to several meters between server and storage device. Fibre Channel operates at distances measured in kilometers, making off-site and shared campus storage a viable strategy.
The second concept is the Storage Area Network (SAN). They replace the 1:1 server-to-storage direct connect model that exists today. Neema notes, however, that "it is just in the past 12 months that SAN has become a recognized term and concept. A survey we conducted a year ago indicated that only 40 percent of storage managers had even heard of SAN. Today, that number has increased to 70 percent. In fact, we find that about 50 percent of storage managers today are seriously studying SAN technology, and approximately 25 percent are planning a move to a SAN infrastructure."
THE HP STORE-Y
If you’re a total HP shop, you should review HP’s recently announced SureStore E product family which addresses midrange customers and includes the HP SureStore E Disk Array FC60 and The HP SureStore E Disk System SC10. The FC60 is a native Fibre Channel RAID array offering high availability, terabyte capacity and a high-speed data transfer rate. For large HP environments, the new high-end HP SuperStore E Disk Array MC256, which replaces the Symetrix offering from EMC, can help you create a powerful storage subsystem with no single point of failure. This solution is ideal for mission-critical, high-volume enterprise applications and databases.
Each of the HP disk array solutions are supported, from a management and administrative perspective by SAN Manager, the flagship product from HP’s recent acquisition of Transoft Networks Inc. SAN Manager allows management of a common pool of storage devices. And it works in heterogeneous Windows NT and UNIX environments. By sticking with one vendor for your entire computing and storage environment, you gain the advantage of minimal compatibility issues. The flip side, particularly since SAN is still an emerging technology, is that you will be committing to HP’s vision of shared storage.
Although HP has dropped its agreement with EMC for storage solutions, there are a number of vendors in the storage arena who are working to make their hardware and software work in a heterogeneous environment. SAN architecture and technology is a high-priority component of their market strategy, with interoperability and, hopefully, open standards as a key enabler.
Some estimates place storage capacity and management at 50 percent to 70 percent of the overall financial impact of an enterprise computing system. With SANs, you’ll be able to add disk and tape capacity incrementally, as your needs grow, without necessarily adding more servers. When you sit down to plan, consider working with a storage consultant, one who has their finger on the pulse of SANs and storage technologies in general. You want to make sure that, whatever strategy you choose, you’re doing so with confidence.
– Daniel J. Carson, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development
Open Systems Solutions (OSSI) Inc.