HP pushes unified storage for the masses with StorageWorks AiO models
Bundled ASM management software simplifies iSCSI SANs -- but it's not errorproofFollow @infoworld
My favorite feature in windows Storage Server 2003 R2 is the recently added support for iSCSI targets that complements traditional file sharing via CIFS, NFS, and other protocols. And it looks like I’m not the only one who likes this capability: Hewlett-Packard was quick to build on that foundation for its two new storage systems.
The StorageWorks AiO (All-in-One) 600 -- a six-drive, 5U enclosure that comes in tower and rack-mountable configurations -- reaps the benefits of Windows Storage Server 2003 R2’s file sharing. It includes HP’s ASM (All-in-One Storage Manager), an MMC (Microsoft Management Console)-based management application that promises to bring storage administration within the reach of customers with little networked storage experience.
Setting Up and Starting Out
I got an early peek at the AiO 600, and it’s impressively built. With six 250GB SATA drives, my test machine had a nominal capacity of 1.5TB, but you can double that by mounting 500GB drives. You can further expand capacity connecting an HP MSA20 -- or MSA30 or MSA50 -- storage enclosure in the background.
If faster performance is a more pressing requirement, HP offers speedier 146GB SAS (serial attached SCSI) drives on the 600 model. HP also bundles a license for Data Protector Express with the AiO models. Using that, you can schedule backups directly from ASM.
After connecting the AiO 600’s 3GbE port to the network, I powered up. ASM appeared automatically on my screen, suggesting that I run Rapid Startup, a wizard that helps set up network connectivity, e-mail error notification, and other housekeeping tasks.
That done, I installed an ASM agent on each application server, which also verified the presence of -- and eventually installed -- required components such as the .Net framework, the iSCSI initiator, and the Volume Shadow Copy provider for iSCSI.
MMC provides access to all native Windows tools, but ASM helps with only four tasks: migrating Exchange 2003 and SQL Server 2000/2005 databases from a local drive, assigning storage to a custom application, and creating new shares. That may not seem to be much, but it’s enough to be a great help if you are new to networked storage. The ASM scripts automate unfamiliar tasks such as carving LUNs (logical unit numbers) from the RAID controller, creating iSCSI targets, and configuring the iSCSI initiator on the application server to access those targets. Moreover, the wizards will help you schedule automated snapshots and backups.
Migration Made Easy
I began my test by migrating a SQL Server database. After asking the name of the app server, the ASM wizard automatically discovered my database and suggested two separate RAID 10 volumes to host the tables and the log file.
I set the wizard to schedule a daily backup of the database and to take a snapshot every two hours. ASM gave me a summary page to review the script it had automatically generated, a list of 12 distinct tasks, including preparing the LUN, creating the iSCSI targets, and setting the schedule for the snapshots.