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HP gets smart on storage with workload-aware caching

Gen 8 ProLiants caching 3PAR arrays

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HP says its Gen 8 ProLiant servers use real-time analysis to build "the future of converged storage". But what does it mean? Gen 8 ProLiant servers include workload-aware intelligent caching for virtualised and non-virtualised environments. The server's Smart Storage analyses different types of workload data and dynamically changes to optimise system performance and efficiency.

HP said: "[This] will also be the foundation for future smart caching technologies that take advantage of a wide variety of storage media to make intelligent choices to support different types of data and applications and dynamically balance the use of solid state and traditional disk drives for optimised performance."

The new tech involved includes:

  • real-time workload-aware analysis to optimise and adapt storage performance and
  • intelligent analytics to assist with storage management and data protection.

We understand HP has designed a smart caching system for these ProLiant servers with a second host-caching system for its 3PAR arrays (host in this case meaning server). Regarding these server-caching concepts, there are separate configurations for a server with direct-attached storage and one with converged storage, meaning 3PAR networked storage in HP-speak.

The implementation of smart caching begins with straightforward basic caching of hot data in flash caches, and then progresses to embrace some form of high-availability and integration with networked storage arrays for the collaborative and coherent placing of shared data across multiple server hosts.

There will be common server host components between host caching and SAN array caching. That implies that it might be possible to upgrade or migrate from a server direct-attached storage cache to a server-side SAN array caching scheme. We understand that HP Storage Management will use one interface for direct and shared storage and that this Smart Caching will be integrated with Microsoft Cluster Services and VMware.

We could see an HP BladeSystem using such a Smart Caching scheme to place hot data from a networked 3PAR array into server-side caches, thus accelerating applications, and support the vMotion of workloads between the blades with the individual server caches being kept coherent.

What does HP say about this? Brad Parks, Converged Infrastructure Strategist for HP Storage, said: "Solid State technology is a disruptive innovation and many customers are currently investigating where and how best to take advantage of its performance benefits. HP believes the only way to truly optimise performance for application workloads is to have innovation that spans the workflow from servers to storage."

"Building on our … ProLiant and 3PAR technologies we are going to deliver SSD in hosts with read caching technologies as well as cache and SSD tiers within 3PAR. Using analytics such as Adaptive Optimisation we will enable collaboration and data movement between servers and storage. This along with Storage Federation technologies like HP Peer Motion will enable customers to be much more agile in how they respond to new application demands." ®

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