HP pushes unified storage for the masses with StorageWorks AiO models
Bundled ASM management software simplifies iSCSI SANs -- but it's not errorproofFollow @infoworld
It took only minutes to complete that script, after which I found my SQL server database completely moved to a new iSCSI volume on the AiO 600. ASM also automatically modified the data location in SQL server so that my SQL queries worked without a problem. Migrating a database from local to networked storage doesn’t get any easier than this. In the real world, you will probably do a backup (or two) first and perhaps run the ASM script after hours, but it’s still that easy.
ASM moved my Exchange 2003 server database with similar simplicity, but other applications don’t get the same full service. For example, I was able to allocate space for an old PIM application, but ASM did not automatically move the data files; I had to do that using Windows Explorer and then manually point the application to the new volume. The same is true for shared folders. It isn’t a major concern -- you don’t have to be a storage guru to perform these manual tasks -- but it would be nice to have the automatic transfers available to all apps.
Easy snapshot management is another good reason to consider the AiO 600. In addition to a flexible schedule, you can automatically increase the frequency during peak hours, and ASM gives you easy access to your snapshots, too. From ASM, you can open an access path from any application server to your snapshots. The only annoyance is that you must create a dedicated directory on your server for each snapshot because the system doesn’t allow more than one in a folder.
Bumps in the Road
I did run into a few other speed bumps using the AiO 600. When I tried migrating a SQL server database that I had installed after the ASM agent, for example, the script failed with a cryptic error message. Re-installing the ASM agent on the database machine fixed the problem, but I had to first call HP to figure out the reason for that error.
Also, when a script fails, ASM doesn’t bring the storage system back to the status quo ante and can leave you with unallocated chunks of storage that will never be used. A skilled admin can fix that condition manually outside of ASM, but dropping the ball when there’s an error seems to defeat the purpose of a system meant to help inexperienced people easily manage storage.
Having said that, I still recommend the AiO 600 and ASM. The potential for getting these types of errors is limited, and the system is easy to use. Plus, HP’s three-year warranty on hardware and software should cover your system until you learn enough about networked storage to be comfortable using the basic Windows tools.