EMC announced delivery of its fully automated storage tiering (FAST) technology across its Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra line of storage arrays. The technology will allow data volumes to be dynamically moved between tiers of storage, depending on business performance requirements.
The first phase of EMC FAST technology is available immediately for new and existing EMC Symmetrix V-Max and EMC Clariion CX4 networked storage systems, as well as EMC Celerra NS unified storage systems. The technology will identify data sets at the volume level only and, on average, will allow sets down to a gigabyte to be automatically moved between storage tiers.
[ Keep up with the latest approaches to managing information overload and staying compliant in InfoWorld's Enterprise Data Explosion newsletter. ]
The company also laid out its strategic direction for other advances in automated tiering technology, which will eventually allow its software to identify data sets smaller than a megabyte in size and move them to the most appropriate level of data storage -- be it solid state drives (SSD), Fibre Channel, or SATA.
The software allows users to combine the benefits of enterprise flash drives, which can increase application performance by as much as eight times for active data, with the cost benefits of high-capacity SATA disk drives, which can lower the cost-per-megabyte by as much as 80 percent for inactive data, EMC said.
Brian Gallagher, senior vice president and general manager of EMC's Symmetrix division, said the introduction of FAST technology is an "inflection point" for the company and its customers. "If we don't do anything about storage growth, the future looks pretty bad," he said. "Data capacity growth is doubling every 18 months" and growing 10-fold every five years.
"Database disk drives just can't keep up with [a] 50 percent to 60 percent compound annual growth rate and SATA drives can barely keep up," Gallagher said.
EMC has been espousing the virtues of SSD for nearly two years, vowing to do all it could to help drive the price of flash technology down because it has the potential to revolutionize the way drive technology is deployed. The automated movement of data volumes between tiers will spur the adoption of SSD, Gallagher said, because enterprises will be able to take full advantage of NAND flash performance without having to manually allocate data to it.
Today, many enterprises requiring high I/O performance for applications, such as relational databases for online transaction processing, deploy dozens of high-speed Fibre Channel drives using a technique called "short stroking." That's where only the outer sectors of a disk's platter -- those closest to the read-write head -- are accessed in order to accelerate performance. The method is both costly and wastes vast amounts of drive capacity. Even using short stroking, hard drives only achieve a fraction of the I/O performance of SSDs.
"You can drive 5,000 I/Os per second with an SSD. On a good day, a hard drive will give you maybe 200 I/Os per second," Gallagher said. Having SSDs in the mix will eliminate the need for short stroking, he noted.
Brian Bosserman, network and systems operations manager at Foster Pepper, a large law firm in the pacific northwest, said he wants to deploy FAST technology on his Celerra systems to maximize capacity use by placing infrequently accessed large document files on SATA drives. Exchange and SQL data would go on enterprise flash drives and Fibre Channel drives, all within the same system.