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HP readies plan for EVA revolution

SAS and SATA support with ProLiant controller

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Comment It appears that HP is getting ready to announce two revolutionary EVA arrays, abandoning its proprietary EVA controller design and using SAS drives for the first time.

HP's Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) is its mid-range departmental storage array, placed between the workgroup and branch office MSA product and the enterprise XP arrays. There are three models: the EVA 4400; EVA 6400; and EVA 8400, each with dual HSV controllers running XCS firmware, and either Fibre Channel or 1TB FATA (Fibre-Attached Technology Adapteddirect connect, Fibre Channel or iSCSI.

According to a source two new products are being readied, both based on commodity controller and hard drive products for reasons of cost. They will likely be called the 4500, 6500 or 8500, and feature controllers based on ProLiant Xeon servers, probably Nehalem-based, running ported XCS software.

Current EVAs have a Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FCAL) controller-drive enclosure connection scheme. The new controllers will connect to drive enclosures using SAS connectivity, thought to be 6Gbit/s. There will be performance-optimised drive enclosures containing 2.5-inch, 6Gbit/s SAS drives.

SSDs will be supported for high-performance needs. El Reg notes that HP already uses 10K and 15K Seagate Savvio drives in its MSA arrays and in some ProLiant, Integrity and Blade servers.

The new EVAs should also offer capacity-optimised enclosures with 3.5-inch 1TB or 2TB SATA drives.

An announcement is expected in weeks.

Black box storage architecture

There is also a new overall storage architecture being developed by HP which has three layers. The base is a drive enclosure layer using commodity drives and interfaces. It connects to a controller layer, made of commodity processor servers running drive array controller software. Layered on this is a third layer of storage management functions such as backup or archive.

The controller layer servers can be given different storage personalities by changing their software. For example, the servers could run XCS software and present an EVA personality. They could also run LeftHand software and thus one backend set of drive enclosures could be partitioned into an EVA-style array and a LeftHand-style array.

We might also envisage Ibrix/Polyserve software being used to build a clustered high-performance Computing (HPC) storage facility. HP would save considerable costs and increase internal efficiencies by using the same basic set of drives, enclosures, interfaces and server hardware, a quasi-black box storage vault, across this set of storage personalities or environments.

These controller/servers would be accessed by application servers over Ethernet, meaning iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), or Fibre Channel, and probably InfiniBand.

HP's scale-out filer product, the ExDS9100 fits right into this 3-layer scheme with its storage blocks, using a SAS backplane, performance blocks (controller/servers) and Polyserve cluster software.

The two new EVA products would also fit right into this new HP storage scheme. Hints about this scheme and about EVA developments have been provided previously here and here. Although they represent a coming together of HP servers and storage they would not be a consequence of EMC recruit David Donatelli's appointment, as he is not able to add storage to his existing product portfolio of servers and networking until next year.

This new black box storage entity also fits into HP's Converged Infrastructure notion of virtualised pools of compute, network and storage resources in a virtualised data centre.

The ideas coming together involve provisioning applications using templates, such that, for example, a BladeSystem Matrix SharePoint Server 2007 template could involve the appropriate storage resource with storage controller personality and capacity allocation carried out automatically and dynamically when the SharePoint application was set live. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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