HP announces multi-petabyte file storage system

By Kevin Komiega

—Hewlett-Packard has announced the upcoming availability of the HP StorageWorks 9100 Extreme Data Storage System (ExDS9100), a high-performance, high-capacity system specifically built to house and serve file-level data for businesses with multi-petabyte storage requirements, such as Web 2.0, digital media, and other large enterprise customers.

The ExDS9100 consists of three primary components for performance, capacity, and management. An HP BladeSystem chassis provide performance with blade servers, capacity is supplied via StorageWorks hardware sold in "blocks," and the software comes in the form of HP file clustering technology acquired when the company bought clustered file system maker PolyServe.

A base configuration of the ExDS9100 starts with four server blades, each of which can deliver up to 200MBps of throughput, a starting capacity of 246TB, and the file clustering software.

The system can scale to a maximum configuration of 16 blades with up to 12.8 cores per unit, for 3.2GBps performance and support for up to 10 storage blocks, for a total of 820TB of capacity.

The ExDS9100, which is expected to be available in the fourth quarter, has been designed to scale performance and capacity independently to meet workload requirements and eliminate the need for system downtime during upgrades.

Ian Duncan, director of SAN marketing for HP's StorageWorks division, says there are two trends in the industry driving the need for high-performance, high-capacity file storage systems. "The explosion of file-based content in the Web 2.0 world and traditional enterprises looking to monetize digital assets by delivering content over the Web are the trends we are seeing and what we have distilled from talking with our customers in this space," he says.

Duncan says keeping prices down was a top concern for HP. "We have had many conversations about how we can take cost out because there are enterprises not implementing systems like this today; the infrastructure has not been available at an affordable price point," he says.

Pricing for the ExDS9100 will vary by overall configuration, but should settle at somewhere less than two dollars per gigabyte or $500,000 for an entry system, according to Duncan.

Analysts agree that file-level data will be consuming the majority of disk storage systems capacities in the near future. Brad Nisbet, program manager, storage systems at IDC, estimates that in 2008, just over half of disk storage systems petabytes being shipped are destined for deployment in support of some type of file-related data. By 2012, file data will account for just over 80%.

"For many organizations, this type of content is the lifeblood of the business, and they are looking for advanced technologies that can help them manage the overwhelming amount of content," Nisbet says. "Other large organizations have a blend of needs, managing both legacy applications—largely database applications, much of which is block/SAN-oriented—but will have an increasing amount of files and content to manage."

Nisbet says HP has tuned into customer needs by finally developing a more "packaged" system for its PolyServe technology. "Customers are beginning to expect turnkey solutions, especially as file-level requirements continue to grow. While many of the pure content-driven organizations are willing to take on solutions that entail custom assembly of parts, many are looking for pre-packaged solutions."

However, HP is not necessarily breaking ground with the ExDS9100. "The file system and scalable technology HP acquired from PolyServe is indicative what other vendors are offering in the market," Nisbet says. "However, to HP's credit, they have been working on this for years, along with smaller companies such as Isilon, BlueArc, Panasas, Exanet, and Ibrix, each of which are addressing similar opportunities in slightly different ways."

This article was originally published on May 07, 2008