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Defrag software supplier Diskeeper has denounced HP for failing to mention fragmentation issues.

Mandeep Birdi, a technical presales consultant at Diskeeper Corp Europe, said: "It's unfortunately becoming a little too common for me to hear from many customers who are adding SANs to their network estate, that their SAN vendor has either told them not to worry about fragmentation, or didn't even mention it as a possible problem."

That did not endear him to HP, which was keen to correct any misapprehensions here.

HP's response

HP contributed this statement:

Firstly, fragmentation is not an issue for the Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) and HP simply would not be "forgetting" to inform our customers if there was one.

A fundamental pillar of the EVA's virtualisation capabilities is the equal distribution of data blocks across all disk drives in a disk group to provide equal access time for random I/O patterns – which typically can be found in fragmented file systems.

A defragmentation application, such as the one your message referenced, provides a contiguous file reappearance to previously fragmented file systems.

There is no fragmentation issue for the EVA at all

This works well with the EVA platform – just as with other platforms or LUNs in general. Under certain I/O patterns, especially sequential read operations (often appearing with backups), the EVA's read-ahead caching algorithms support a significantly increased I/O performance.

These read-ahead algorithms predict the next disk blocks the server is likely to access based on past access patterns and loads them into cache without having to re-position the MR head. This becomes even quicker when the next data block is adjacent to the previous one – ie, the exact target of a defragmenter.

Over time and depending on the I/O patterns and the operating system, data "containers" will show fragmentation. For sequential data accesses, defragmentation can help to increase performance – especially when combined with sophisticated techniques that the EVA provides.

Also, it is important to note that fragmentation is not caused by the underlying storage system but by the operating systems utilising it. The single HDD used with Windows OS in PCs is a perfect example of it.

In other words, due to the underlying inherent EVA virtualisation, EVA supports equally fast access times for random I/O patterns. Which is not something "traditional" arrays can provide easily. And secondly, for less fragmented environments, the EVA caching mechanisms further increase the I/O performance.

We do want to make it clear that there is no fragmentation issue for the EVA at all and neither do we "fail to mention" it to customers.

So there.

The defrag topic was recently discussed in further detail here.

Some might think that for minnow Diskeeper to accuse a large vendor like HP of misleading customers when there isn't really an issue is a cheap shot aimed at trying to generate free publicity for a product. We couldn't possibly comment... ®

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