The other week (Jan 26th and 27th to be specific) I made a trip out to the HP Research facility in Ft. Collins Colorado to get a first-hand look at HP’s storage offerings and took a tour of their research datacenter there. In attendance were 10 other bloggers and industry analysts, some that I’ve talked to prior but many whom I’ve met for the first time. Calvin Zito (or otherwise known as @HPStorageGuy on Twitter) was our excellent host who made sure that we stuck to the schedule and prepared us for the presentations. This event was completely paid for by HP and brought all of us in as independent bloggers for an outside view of their products and solutions.
The first presentation was delivered by HP’s Craig Nunes to go over the highlights of their Converged Storage offerings. During his presentation, he kept driving home that they are investing in the “Elimination of Boundaries” with the New HP Storage line. This is where the term “Big Data” came up a few times and how products like 3PAR will be an enabler of cloud deployments going forward.
The HP Storage Virtual SAN Appliance (VSA) P4000 is Lefthand running in a virtual machine that is completely oblivious to what is running underneath it. Data is striped across all nodes in the VSA which they say is dissimilar to other technologies that use the other nodes as backups for the primary. A few of the delegates raised the the question a few times regarding support for solid state drives, and they said that “SSD Support in the P4000 is currently being looked at”.
Another solution that was presented was the HP StorageWorks P4800 blade system model that allows one JBOD to serve two nodes. There is current support for up to 70TB in one “Node”. This unit is built as a VDI Solution.
HP’s StoreOnce Family
My favorite session was of course the VMware integration with HP’s product line and was eager to find out support matrix information with these new products and offerings. I did find out that VAAI is supported on every HP array with the exception of the P6000 EVA that has not been released yet. Another interesting note is that VMware’s certification for metro clusters (aka vSphere Metro Storage Cluster) has support for iSCSI targets on the HP P4000. HP also has support for recovery and snapshot solutions with 3PAR ‘s via the “Recovery Manager Software for vSphere” and HP’s P4000 LeftHand solutions through the “Application Aware Snapshot Manager”.
Along the line of vSphere Storage API integration with Storage Awareness (aka VASA), I thought a flowchart was in order here to give a visual representation of how this works:
Another guest speaker on Friday was a fellow named Aboubacar Diare (a master architect) who discussed VMware’s adaptive queue depth algorithm that resolves around response time issues seen on VMware cluster nodes. He referenced KB article 1008113 where 3PAR worked with VMware on this particular issue that resolves SCSI BUSY and QUEUE FULL conditions where ESX becomes unresponsive. This happens when consolidation levels are too high for the number of heavy hitters on any one node.
In ESX 3.5 update 4 and higher, VMware released an “adaptive queue depth” algorithm that dynamically changes the LUN queue depth in the VMkernel I/O stack. Pretty cool.
You can read more about this joint effort here: KB 1008113
The datacenter tour:
HP also lead us on a tour of the datacenter where they showed us many of the products discussed in the racks. They also had a few engineers showing off the adaptive louvers in the floor tiles so they can control airflow throughout. (top) They also showed us a screenshot of how this is depicted from the management console (bottom) where you can see hot and cold sections of the datacenter.
Jim Richardson (JR) who is one of the founding 3PAR Systems Engineers was also on the tour and gave a first-hand look at some of these arrays in action. Here he is showing off one of the 3PAR systems in the datacenter (top). We also got to do a few labs while we were there and they were showing the HP 3PAR Thin Persistence and optimization with VMware’s eager zero thick (EZT for short). This is best depicted in their slide (bottom).
All in all, this was a great trip and I was glad I got to attend and learn more about these products and how they can supplement VMware and datacenter technology in the SMB and Enterprise space.