Category Archives: hardware - Page 3

(s)low budget drives: the future of archiving

Flash storage

Storage growth

Most of the data we collect and store on our computers eventually ends up in some sort of archive. I think we can all agree on that, right? Do we ever throw anything away? Well, some data doesn’t really make sense after a while and can (and will) be deleted, but a lot of data “might be useful” after some time and so we keep it. And don’t forget the tons of digital memories we create using photo and video cameras!  I estimate that I’m creating about 100 GB of digital photos and videos throughout the year and that’s increasing every year as well with the new cameras we’re using. More pixels, DSLR cameras, RAW photography and HD or even 4k HD videos are probably taking up most of the space we need extra each year.

Where do we store our data?

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Cisco becomes a storage vendor

Twitter, Facebook, Google+… it’s all over the (social) news

Wednesday September 11 it was all over the news: all my popular news resources mentioned in one way or the other that Cisco is now into storage. The “Software Defined Data Center” buzz word is “buzzing” since the beginning of 2013, at least I didn’t hear much of it before that.

Many companies (including my employer Open Line Consultancy with Storage As A Service and Backup As A Service) already do business this way for years, it’s just that all of a sudden it has a popular name that everybody’s using since this year. But thinking about clouds with automated processes to fine tune and schedule every wish for storage, cpu or memory has really become popular. And with Cisco now acquiring Whiptail, this vendor will now be able to participate in this rising market space.

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How to set the “The array is alive” on a specific day and time on a VNX

The need for weekly messages

EMC’s Symmetrix already knew this feature for a decade or so (or even longer), but since a few years EMC’s pushing customers to make every array to email home once a week so they can keep track of its pulse. And they’re not joking about its importance either, since once an array skips a beat, a severity 1 ticket is being created to get that fixed as soon as possible. EMC truly seems to care about the arrays they have running all over the world, so they’re indeed in good shape and being monitored actively.

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EMC Midrange Mega Launch: the new VNX

Midrange Mega Launch 2013: #Speed2Lead in real life!

Although the Clariion platform was a great platform a couple of years ago, the constant growth of customers’ environments and their need for more performance automatically means that storage vendors constantly need to improve their products as well. EMC VNX was able to serve customers just right for the last few years. With the introduction of flash storage in storage arrays performance issues seemed gone, but know that flash devices can easily outperform any rotating device (disk) by 20, 30, maybe even 50 times and depending on the I/O pattern, the back-end of an array could be a serious bottleneck since it wasn’t originally designed for performance demands like that and the old FLARE that ran on the CPUs wasn’t sufficient for the performance demand. So although FAST VP helps getting hot data to performance efficient devices and cold data to the slower and cheaper devices, it’s obvious that the array technology needed to be upgraded. And just like every 3 years or so, the necessity for new technology has come.

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EMC World 2013 – day 4

A little late, but better late than never. This last EMC World post has been sitting in my drafts, knowing two of my coleagues already posted theirs about the exact same thing that I wanted to talk about. And since I don’t want to play copy cat, I’m going to refer to their posts. That seems the best thing to do.

EMC World 2013, day 4

Thursday is traditionally (half) a day to say goodbye to the many old and new friends, visit some last day sessions, leave the hotel and head back to the airport, but this year I planned ahead and I decided to stay a bit longer for some quality time with the EMC Elect: My plane wouldn’t leave until Saturday afternoon!! I had to switch hotels though from the fancy and luxurious Venetian to the hotel next door “Harrah’s”. It’s a huge step down, but Harrah’s does what it’s supposed to do and that’s offering me a bed to sleep.

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Other useful features of USM

Techs focussed on EMC will know “EMC USM” for its use in upgrading storage arrays like Clariion and VNX as well as disk firmwares and installing enablers, but it can be used for other purposes as well.

Gearoid Griffin, a fellow EMC Elect 2013 member, wrote a nice article about it. Go have a look, I find it very interesting!

You can find his article on https://community.emc.com/people/GearoidG/blog/2013/04/04/other-useful-features-of-usm.

EMC SAN Copy best practices

SAN Copy zoningEMC SAN Copy best practices

  • Just like with MirrorView ports: don’t use SC ports as host front end ports. Try to use dedicated ports for SC
  • Make sure the zoning is correct between the source SAN Copy port and the target SAN Copy port
  • Don’t use zones with multiple storage array (initiator) ports in them. Try to use SIST whenever you can: Single Initiator, Single Target so you’re certain there can only be 1 initiator in each zone

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DIP upgrade from EMC VNX 5500 to VNX 5700

Data In Place upgrading an EMC VNX 5500 to VNX 5700

Last week I had the pleasure of being involved in a data in place upgrade of a VNX 5500 that was in desperate need of more capacity and performance. The decision was made to perform a DIP, so this is in fact an easy procedure: replace the Storage Processors and you’re good to go? Well, almost.

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Gigabyte versus Gibibyte

Are the hard drive vendors screwing us?

the answer is no. At least when it comes to the number of bytes they promise you can store on their drives they’re not. Oh really?

In July 2012 I wrote a blog post on “saying what you mean to say“, so people cannot misinterpret what you’re trying to point out. Gigabyte, Gibibyte, Joules, Calorie, kilo Calorie, degrees Celsius, but not degrees kelvin (it’s just kelvin or capital K).

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SCSI, (P)ATA, SAS, NL-SAS and SATA, what’s the difference? (part 2)

So what else is there that differentiates SCSI, (P)ATA, SAS, NL-SAS and SATA?

Size matters

In part 1 we talked about Rotations Per Minute and Command Queuing, but what else is there that makes a certain drive a better choice than any other? Other differences are the size of the platters. Commonly used are 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch. Although it makes sense that smaller platters can rotate faster than larger platters in the end only the size of the drive cage matters. It’s in fact somewhat weird that most 2.5 inch drives now rotate at 10k RPM and the 3.5 inch drives at 15k. Being able to cool the device is probably the main reason why a 10k drive only spins at 10k RPM. If it would rotate any faster, it would heat up more and heat dissipation could become a serious problem. So if you need a high GB per square meter density and performance doesn’t really matter, then the 2.5 inch drives make sense, but if performance is the key differentiator, the more IOps you can squeeze out of each drive, the better. And since we’re not discussing data center designs here, only quality / performance counts.

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SCSI, (P)ATA, SAS, NL-SAS and SATA, what’s the difference? (part 1)

Everybody needs storage space nowadays. Whether it is used for high performance computing or simply storing family snapshots, we all need room to store data which is important to us.

In the old days (the 1990s) things were fairly easy: you had either ATA or SCSI. The much older RLL and MFM are now called ancient and therefore not talked about in this article. ATA was mainstream for about 10 years and SCSI was expensive, but also very fast. Both standards used a flatcable and the data was sent to and from the drive in parallel. But when speeds increased the timing of each of the separate signals became difficult and just like cd players in the 1980s manufacturers started using serial lines. This meant that higher speeds could be accomplished and also that the huge flatcables were now traded in for much smaller cable, which improved the airflow as well.

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