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Comment What is HP going to do with the Enterprise Virtual Array?

The El Reg strategy department reckons a speed and feed increase is coming but no more than that, because HP doesn't own the clustering EVA functionality, and the newly-acquired 3PAR product has the virtualised data centre/cloud storage on-ramps which EVA lacks.

Why do we say this? It's because of our view of recent EVA and HP history.

In June 2007 HP launched three EVA models: the 4100, 62100 and 8100, a three-product lineup that in essence survives to the present day. These products provided a virtualised storage array for the larger small and medium businesses, and enterprise mid-range storage applications needing a Fibre Channel access SAN storage facility. Between then and today much has happened to directly and indirectly influence the EVA product set.

In February 2008, HP launched the EVA 4400, a replacement for the 4100 entry-level EVA, just eight months after the 4100, 6100 and 8100 arrays were launched. It featured FATA drives, HP's enterprise version of SATA, with up to 96 drives supported, and host access via 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel.

In November 2008 HP announced its SAN Virtualisation Services Platform (SVSP) which could virtualise HP's and other SAN arrays into single SAN storage pool. It was OEM'd from LSI which had bought StoreAge and its SAN Virtualisation product. This was a step with far-reaching product development strategy implications.

HP added the 6400 and 8400 products in March 2009, thus providing today's basic EVA product set. The new products provided more capacity and solid state drive (SSD) support. The 8440 supported up to 320 drives (including 72GB SSDs). The total was 240 max with the 8100.

Both the 6100 and 8100 were given VRAID 6, RAID 6 implemented virtually, to protect against two drive failures. There was no SAS drive support and both 4 and 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel access were supported.

That's a 21-month interval between the 6100/8100 and the 6400/8400 pairs. It's now 22 months since the 6400 and 8400 were launched so we could think we're due a refresh on product cycle grounds alone, although we have it on reasonably good authority that there will be no EVA refresh announced either this month or next.

Scale-out and virtualisation

In June 2009, newly-joined HP EMEA StorageWorks VP Gary Veale said the next-generation EVA will get a scale-out, virtualised architecture with storage processor blades (X86 servers) running storage array O/S and commodity drives in storage shelves layered underneath. There would be a separate storage management SW layer.

Some of this has come to pass. In September we heard that the EVA arrays would get thin provisioning, the ability to mostly just use disk storage for written data and not have to supply capacity up front for all the allocated space. They would also get automatic LUN Migration.

At this time David Donatelli had joined HP from EMC to run HP's server, storage and networking businesses, but was prevented from running storage for a year by an EMC lawsuit. At this point the Donatelli hire indicates HP knew it had to have a co-ordinated and integrated set of server, storage and networking products, because customers wanted much more efficient virtualised date centres with the ability for them to co-operate with cloud IT resources. Converged IT stacks were becoming the name of the game.

Big news came in April 2010 that the EVA would fit into a new naming scheme as HP said the MSA entry-level arrays were by then the P2000 products, and the acquired Left Hand Networks iSCSI SAN arrays were the P4000s. The EVA design would evolve into P6000 products with X86 controllers - along the lines Veale had described - and fit into HP"s Converged Infrastructure (CI).

There would be or could be a single set of storage enclosures with the P2000, P4000 and P6000 storage controllers pulling storage capacity out as they needed. The high-end XP line was at the top of HP's storage heap, OEM'd from Hitachi and separate from this with its USP-V controller hardware and software.

June 2010 saw hugely important announcements. HP launched its in-house developed StoreOnce D2D2500 and 4312 products to provide deduplication. These were specific and separate deduplication appliances with the Sepaton Virtual Tape Library a (VTL) providing a dedicated storage resource for larger, on-line archive applications. Deduplication could run as a data services layer application in HP's CI in the future.

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