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Mixing Flash, SSDs And FAST Software For Automated Storage [EMC]

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on July 5, 2012 by Emily A. Davidson

In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that 20% of the people owned 80% of the wealth. If you think about it, that 80/20 rule applies to just about everything. Likely you wear 20% of the clothes in your closet 80% of the time, and I bet that only 20% of your company’s data is active 80% of the time.

Even though you may have spent a small fortune of your company’s money on a storage array, 80% of that array goes mostly unused. While that kind of statistic is expensive to hear, there is a solution – automated storage tiering.

 Fully Automated Storage Tiering from EMC and VMware

Rather than having all your data on same-speed hard drives in the same array, it makes sense to put your most accessed data on the best performing storage you have, and store the less-accessed data on lower-speed storage.

Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) from EMC and VMware does just that. It’s a mix of Flash and SSD drives that automatically moves hot data onto faster Flash storage arrays and cold data onto more affordable SSDs. Here is how it works:

The red tier of Flash drives offers an extremely fast performance tier. The yellow tier of SAS drives (for VNX platforms) or Fibre Channel drives (for CX4 platforms) offer a mix of performance and capacity. The blue tier of NL-SAS drives (VNX) and SATA drives (CX4) make up the capacity tier.

Since storing all your data on Flash disks is expensive, and only a subset of data is ‘hot’ or active at any given time, you need an array that intelligently moves the data based on activity and user policies. A FLASH 1st strategy from EMC allows companies to maximize their storage virtualization and performance targets – without compromising on performance or cost.

Here are the technologies that make FAST storage possible:

  • FAST VP leverages two or all three storage tiers into a single pool. It collects I/O activity in slices at 1.0GB granularity and uses that activity to decide which slices should be promoted to higher tiers of storage
  • FAST Cache uses enterprise Flash drives to extend existing cache capacities up to 2 terabytes. FAST cache monitors incoming I/O for access frequency and automatically copies frequently accessed data from the back-end drives into the cache.
  • VNX storage offers a unified approach to auto-tiering for file and block data. The FAST Suite is available on the VNX5300TM and larger systems.

Storage tiering offers your company faster application response, optimization for virtualization, cost savings, and performance increases across the board.

How 80/20 applies to you

If you still have all of your company’s data on the same speed and type of storage and you’re not taking advantage of storage tiering, you’re wasting your company’s storage investment. By ensuring that the most demanded active data is on the highest-performance storage, you’ll enjoy faster application response, capex savings, opex reduction, and virtual infrastructure performance improvements.

To learn more, read our eBook or go to our Softchoice ITGrok blog and read Automated Storage Tiering: 5 Things You Should Consider.

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