HP introduces extreme storage

HP introduces extreme storage

HP’s StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100) represents a cheap, more scalable, faster growing and easier to manage hardware/software solution for dealing with forms of data which is expanding exponentially in many organizations, stated Glenn Bontje, business development manager for storage and high performance computing at HP Canada. Extreme storage is a descriptive solution for the storing and managing of unstructured data at the terabyte and pedabyte level in the form of videos, photos, online information and emails that is not sitting in corporate databases.

“At this kind of scale it goes beyond what you want to use with storage array architecture and what people are finding when they get to this kind of scale and the complexity of managing.”

One selling point for HP’s ExDS9100 is that it will only require a small number of IT staff, continued Bontje.

Starting with a base of 246 terabytes, the new product can be expanded incrementally in the form of blocks, each contained 82 terabytes and combined individually with an additional controller, drive and other items to scale bandwidth and capacity.

Bontje defended his company’s plan to introduce the new storage product in the fall rather than immediately.

“More than anything else the delay is a function of broad availability of terabyte SAS drives.”

Targeted at organizations such as photo finishers, cable, telco and or any enterprises with a lot of rich media content or faced with high capacity archival requirements, the ExDS9100 will be priced per capacity and per square foot or meter, stated Bontje.

“This is a step between SAN and tape if you will. People are looking at four or five tiers of storage where there is a tier that is archival but not tape, and this lends itself to that type of environment.”

Unstructured data has not been well served by general purpose storage systems which soak up a large amount of time and energy in any effort to scale, stated Andrew Reichman, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

“I am really excited about [HP's ExDS9100]. I do think that it is going to be a big shift in storage to allow companies to scale bigger, faster and easier to meet the massively growing needs for data.”

What also makes HP noteworthy, stated Reichman, that it is entirely an internally constructed solution by the vendor, consisting of HP hardware leveraging bladed components, new management features and clustered file software to facilitate massive scalability. The latter originated from PolyServe — a company that HP acquired last year.

In contrast, the Forrester analyst noted, EMC is combining its own hardware chassis and hard drive with clustered file software from a separate company Ibrix. However, this is a “temporary” arrangement because over the long haul EMC wants to include it own software which is being “from scratch,” he added.

“All of that is really unclear, when you don’t own [the entire hardware software solution]. It is a little bit harder to know how exactly that is going to go [for EMC]. For HP, with their own products it is a little bit clearer.”

More complicated than the scalable storage technology is its management which is where the competition from the various providers will occur, stated Mark Peters, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. “What is challenging is to make it easy for people to use.”

Peters also noted that the early users of storage for unstructured data and rich media have been the major web companies such as Goggle which built the solutions themselves because they could not be accessed elsewhere.

Now, vendors like HP and EMC are making available similar products for the general enterprise customer, he continued.

“You also have got a lot of other technologies that are helping people make better use of the storage they have got — de-duplication, virtualization, and things like that. That is where it gets interesting because you can optimize your usage of the capacity.”

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