HP expands 'tiered-storage' options

By Heidi Biggar

Hewlett-Packard last month expanded its storage portfolio with the introduction of three “tiered-storage” systems and a new release of its OpenView Data Protector software, which facilitates the movement of data/information among these resources.

HP believes these products, which include new disk, tape, and optical systems, will help users control rising storage costs by enabling them to move data among more “tiers” or “classes” of storage as their data ages and as the business value of the data changes.

The concept of moving data among storage resources is an integral part of information life-cycle management (ILM) or data life-cycle management (DLM).

By characterizing the value of data/information to an organization over time and then building an infrastructure of hardware and software that moves data among storage resources automatically, analysts say users will be able to extract more business value from their data while better controlling storage costs.

“It’s all about helping customers align data-protection and data-retention costs with business value of the information over time,” says Frank Harbist, HP’s vice president and general manager of storage, software, and ILM.

The new HP products not only give customers more tiered storage options, says Harbist, but also more choices for tiered data protection (i.e., managing disk-to-disk and tape backup) and tiered data retention (e.g., tape and optical write-once, read-many [WORM] support).

Hewlett-Packard is certainly not alone in its pursuit of this strategy. EMC, Hitachi, IBM, and StorageTek-to name a few-have all been very vocal about their ILM plans over the past year and are at various stages of product development, as are dozens of other hardware and software vendors.

While some of the basic technology exists (e.g., the data movers, storage resource management software, policy engines) for an ILM-like process, analyst say a lot of work still needs to be done to make software applications more storage-aware, and vice versa, so that data is automatically moved among storage tiers according to the type of data being produced, applicable business rules and service levels, and application/data access patterns.

HP’s recent product introductions included the StorageWorks MSA 1500 cs disk array, StorageWorks Ultrium 960 tape drive, StorageWorks Optical 700ux/1100ux jukeboxes, and OpenView Data Protector 5.5 software.

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The MSA 1500 cs is a follow-on to the MSA 1500 array, which was announced last summer. The 1500 cs supports both SCSI and SATA drives in a single 2U controller shelf, which allows users to segment data according to performance and availability requirements. The array supports up to eight SATA enclosures (or shelves) for up to 24TB of raw capacity or up to four SCSI enclosures for up to 16TB.

In supporting both drive types in a single shelf, HP says it has added another level of tiered storage to its portfolio. The company recently announced the ability to tier its XP/MSA arrays as well as EVA support for Fibre Channel and SATA drives.

The 1500 array has been qualified with a variety of third-party software two-stage backup and restore (Computer Associates, HP, Legato, and Veritas), rich media and broadcasting (ADIC), e-mail archiving (KVS), HSM (CommVault), and database archiving (Princeton Sof-tech) products. Pricing starts at $8,995.

HP also announced its third-generation Linear Tape-Open (LTO) drive, the Ultrium 960. LTO-3 drives are also available from IBM and Seagate.

The LTO-3 drive has a 400GB native capacity and an 80MBps native transfer rate. The drive has an Ultra320 interface, comes with both rewritable and WORM data cartridges, and is able to match its data rate to the speed of the host, which minimizes tape wear.

The Ultrium 960 has a starting price of $5,549 and comes with a single-server license of the company’s OpenView Data Protector 5.5 software. Highlights of the new release include improved backup to disk (without multiplexing); advanced media management (or object copy), which allows users to copy only portions of disks or tapes and to migrate data to disk and tape targets without reformatting (e.g., from DLT4000 to LTO-3), and the ability to make backup mirrors.

Pricing for the Starter Pack is $1,196 for Windows and $5,605 for Unix.

HP also added a new tier of low-end optical storage for SMB users-the StorageWorks Optical 700ux/1100ux jukeboxes. The jukeboxes use Ultra Density Optical (UDO), not magneto-optical (MO), media, for reportedly 3x the capacity per platter at a reported 75% cost savings. They are available in WORM or rewritable formats and have a capacity of 720GB to 1.1TB.

Rick Luttral, chief technology strategist for HP’s nearline storage division, believes users will select WORM optical over WORM tape when random access speed is a critical factor.

“It’s an interesting product for SMBs, but I’m not sure if users will flock to it,” says Dianne McAdam, a senior analyst with the Data Mobility Group consulting firm. However, she adds that the jukeboxes may appeal to small to medium-sized businesses due to their “comfort level” with optical technologies (e.g., CDs and DVDs) and their dissatisfaction with tape for archival.

“Tape can be a concern for users that have had problems with their backups in the past,” says McAdam. “But tape may not be the problem. It just tends to get blamed all the time.”

This article was originally published on January 01, 2005