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HP has introduced what it has dubbed its green storage technology that can cut storage array power and cooling costs in data centers by 50 per cent.

The new offerings feature thin provisioning and performance enhancements for the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family, tape drives based on the Linear Tape Open (LTO) 4 standard, new DAT 160 tape drives for SMBs, and the first HP StorageWorks tape product developed exclusively for HP BladeSystem c-Class. Through the use of EVA Dynamic Capacity Management (DCM), Vsnap and FATA disk drives, the new EVAs help organizations that are seeking to optimize hard drive utilization, eliminate unnecessary storage purchases, manage IT resources and storage provisioning tasks, and improve power efficiency by up to 45 per cent compared with previous EVAs. Similar to thin provisioning, and leveraging the virtual disk service volume shrink feature in Windows Server 2008, DCM continuously monitors storage utilization and automatically grows/shrinks host volumes to match application needs, thus reducing ongoing storage administration tasks.

The HP StorageWorks LTO-4 Ultrium1840 tape drive targets the mid-sized and enterprise market segment as HP's highest-capacity, fastest-performing and most secure tape backup, while consuming up to 50 per cent fewer watts/GB than previous versions. The LTO-4 technology and AES 256-bit data encryption protects user data from unauthorized access if cartridges are misplaced or stolen. This tape drive will also be available in HP StorageWorks MSL, EML and ESL E-Series Tape Libraries. The HP Ultrium 448c Tape Blade is a new half-height tape storage blade for the HP BladeSystem c-Class chassis. This blade is designed for customers that are not connected into a SAN, by providing direct-attach data protection for c-Class server blades while taking advantage of the HP Dynamic Power Saving mode to achieve up to a 22 per cent reduction in power consumption. The HP StorageWorks DAT 160 tape drive targets SMBs and features either a SCSI or USB interface, delivers backup speeds of up to 50GB/hour with up to 160GB of capacity on a single cartridge, and consumes fewer watts/GB than previous versions of DAT drives.

In accordance with the continued bolstering of HP's green credentials, each of these updated products prominently feature reduced power consumption per unit of storage not only for disks, but also for tape, which is often thought as an offline or intermittent storage technology. Of course, the most effective way to conserve energy is to not use it in the first place, or at least postpone its use. Through a thin provisioning approach, such as DCM, the dynamic deployment of storage can more closely follow actual needs for capacity at the moment. While some may see this simply as forestalling the inevitable purchase and deployment of storage, it nevertheless reduces capital expenditure in the short term but definitely reduces the power consumed in order to deliver a given storage capacity. Additionally, by leveraging the Virtual Disk Service volume shrink feature in Windows Server 2008, more organizations will likely take advantage of this capability, especially those who may not have been aware of such abilities, or who have considered their deployment and management beyond their organization's scope or ability.

The HP Ultrium 448c Tape Blade is interesting in that it seeks to address a sometimes overlooked need in the datacenter, i.e., backup of the locally mounted disk drives on server blades. While many bladed solutions are interconnected, rather easily, to a SAN or NAS, there are some installations that are standalone, operating in a computing silo. This may be due to a variety of factors, often political in nature; however, not having access to a reliable backup mechanism leaves the organization at risk. By offering a tape solution in a blade form factor, HP has addressed this need in a way that does not require altering the blade solution environment but offers protection to the system directories, applications, and any other resident data or files contained within the blade chassis. As a result, organizations are protected, do not need to alter their consolidated bladed approach through an externally mounted tape drive, and can further leverage the operational and energy efficiency of their blade chassis investment.

During the past few months we have witnessed several announcements of varying scope and depth from HP regarding energy efficiency, recycling, and other green initiatives. The list of announcements has been numerous and vocal enough that perhaps the company is considering changing the colors in its logo to be green as well. But, in all seriousness, the company has made a substantial strategic investment in both its products and corporate direction to focus on delivering products that are environmentally friendlier. This announcement further illustrates the steadfastness of the company in this regard.

Copyright © 2007, The Sageza Group

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