"This will also enable us to have a single business continuity strategy with its own levels of automation and ability to meet strict recovery point objectives," he said in a statement.
Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said FAST technology will be "very significant" for EMC customers, who make up a large portion of the enterprise storage market. "FAST is focused on delivering optimized application performance while enabling greater cost and energy efficiencies," he said.
According to Laliberte, typically 80 percent of an application's data is dormant after 90 days, so being able to automatically have it moved from high-end Fibre Channel disk to more cost-effective and energy-efficient SATA drives reduces costs. "Of the other 20 percent [of frequently accessed data], take 25 percent of that and put it on flash, to guarantee performance and better energy efficiency and leave the rest on Fibre Channel drives," he said. "While Flash is still expensive now, the cost should be offset by the SATA, and pricing should decline as volume increases."
EMC's Gallagher said FAST is the embodiment of information lifecycle management (ILM), or how to classify data in order to move it to the most appropriate tier of storage through policies -- a vision that never came to fruition. According to Gallagher, EMC customers just didn't have the time or staff to dedicate to classifying data types.
"We built this for where the virtual datacenter is going," he said. "When we virtualize servers and applications, the changes in a virtual environment are too dynamic. A server could be 30 percent utilized and the next minute, 70 percent [utilized]," Gallagher said. "The human reaction time is not enough to keep up with that load."
Gallagher compared FAST technology to automation in jet fighter planes, where an aircraft's speed dictates the need for computer control over the aircraft to avoid human error.
"The automation we've developed in FAST gives them what they wanted with ILM, but we took the pain away," he said. "They don't need to classify data or set policy types within data structures."
For example, an administrator can set up a production policy that uses SSD and Fibre Channel, and then Oracle and Exchange can be mapped to those policies. Or an administrator can set up a development policy that dictates only SATA drives be used for storage capacity.
Although FAST technology will initially be aimed at volume level data movement, there are more efficiencies to be gained, according to Laliberte. For example, FAST can create multiple tiers of storage for a single application.
"I think the key is to just get started, regardless of what level of detail, as it often takes time for large organizations to adopt new technology - especially automation technology," Laliberte said.
While it can be completely automated, the FAST software also allows storage administrators to work in a "user approval mode," where an admin is notified through a wizard before data is actually migrated to other drives. That way, users can get accustomed to using the FAST technology before implementing it in full auto mode, "which I believe will be important to driving adoption of this technology at the enterprise level," Laliberte said.
Another tool FAST offers administrators is when they want it to look at data activity for tiering purposes. For example, an administrator could tell his Symmetrix array to look at all data activity for tiering purposes only on Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on weekends, or 24 hours a day.