HP rolls out agile IT solutions at Discover
Another migration looms for HP's users

Big Data drives HP Storage at Discover

At this week's HP Discover conference, Hewlett-Packard is saying that your storage architecture is probably rigid and outdated. (If you're unsure what a storage architecture is, then HP's probably correct.) The vendor is talking about a plan to keep up with "explosive data growth." The briefings this week have often referred to Big Data, nothing at all like Large Files on MPE/iX or Jumbo datasets in IMAGE.

Big Data is defined, according to our friend Wikipedia as:

Datasets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single dataset.

A few other terms might be new to the HP 3000 manager who's migrating, and so stepping up to larger enterprise issues in a new environment. Multi-tenancy, an element that enables data consolidation from many different users. Scalability is a storage term as well, an HP keeps unveiling "scale-out" storage, devices that can add nodes to increase capacity.

How different are things in modern, Network Attached Storage? HP never talks about which platform controls its latest NAS storage devices that were announced here. The controlling computer is a "storage appliance," but mentioned only when you ask. (It's usually driven by Linux, sometimes Windows, occassionally by HP-UX.) What's more important is how fast storage capacity can grow, in HP's view. There's a gap in storage that the vendor says it is bridging with Converged Storage.

HP's Converged Storage portfolio includes virtualized and utility solutions, delivered as physical or virtual systems with the multitenancy required by the cloud. Cloud computing, or as HP says, CloudSystems -- is the biggest talking point for the vendor here. HP announced "a completely rearchitected ecosystem of services, financing and certification programs to help enterprises modernize their storage infrastructure."

If you're following this rollout by tracking a device, the new HP X9000 IBRIX Storage System for massive utility-based file storage scales to more than 16 petabytes and more than 1,000 nodes, all managed through a single interface. HP bought IBRIX two summers ago to get the company's scale-out file serving software. The software speeds up IO between servers and storage devices. IBRIX software solved Disney's problems while creating Monsters v. Aliens.

IBRIX systems address needs of social networking providers, companies with massive real time analytics tasks, medical imaging -- the kind of Big Data a migrated 3000 shop may never see. The X9000 IBRIX starts at 14 terabytes and scales up to 16 petabytes. The entry-level IBRIX will sell for $89,000, available immediately. A massive email network is more likely to be a driver toward HP's new storage solutions for the 3000 manager.

But HP also introduced the HP X5000 G2 Network Storage System for mid-size companies, which was developed in concert with Microsoft. The HP X5000 is specially tuned by HP and Microsoft for Microsoft-based networks and clients. HP made comparisons to proprietary storage systems -- it talked a lot about vendor lock-in, as in "no lock-in, no limits." Solutions from HP's competitors like NetApp or EMC, it says, are built on more complex operating systems, and so are often difficult to manage by companies heavily invested in Microsoft environments.

While the IBRIX solutions are aimed at the biggest of customers, the X5000 is offered for midsized companies with Windows-centric environments. It uses a dual-server, clustered architecture for increased data availability. HP says that quick-start deployment tools enable this system to be up and running in minutes. Time to deploy is another advantage HP is quick to quote over its competitors.

HP also says the X5000 reduces power requirements by up to 58 percent and cooling requirements by up to 63 percent. It's smaller, too, decreasing data center footprint by 50 percent over previous-generation platforms. The X5000, which HP expects to ship in the fall at prices starting at $32,000 for 8 terabytes, uses fast, native support for the Micrtosoft Server Message Block 2.1 protocol and seamless integration with Windows Active Directory.

Modern storage is software at its heart, according to HP. As an example, the X5000 can improved file storage management and reduce risk by automatically categorizing, storing and retaining files based on business value. You'll want to tune those values, but that's a task HP and Microsoft help you do, tuned for your applications.

At the same time HP's selling these systems designed to handle big data, its StoreOnce technology is reducing the need to buy as much. The X5000 can accomodate up to 32 terabytes in a 3U chassis, while the StoreOnce file deduplication may reduce capacity requirements by up to 40 percent.