LAS VEGAS – There are two clearly emerging trends coming out of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s HP Americas StorageWorks Conference this week: HP’s going green, and the future is in blades.

The company introduced a new line of StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Arrays, the EVA 4100, 6100 and 8100, and Linear Tape Open (LTO 4) tape drives for the company’s BladeSystem c-Class enclosures.

HP is promising energy savings of up to one half with the EVAs. The new line is more performance-efficient as well, said HP’s Mark Gonzales, vice-president of sales for the enterprise servers and storage group.

Once an array is carved up into logical unit numbers (LUNs), the allotted space is used up whether there’s data in it or not. On the new EVAs, administrators can resize the LUNs on the fly, Gonzales said, reclaiming that space.

“What’s the most expensive storage you can buy? The storage you have to buy today,” Gonzales said. With storage costs dropping continually, being able to put off the investment in storage capacity will save money in the long run, he said.

The arrays also offer what he called a “true space-efficient copy for data backup. Snapshot backups make a complete copy of the data each backup, creating a clone. The EVAs add incrementally to the backup, saving space.

Worth Davis, director of IT for Suez Energy North America Inc. in Houston, called the ability to dynamically change LUN size important. “It’s doable now,” without the new technology, but it’s painful and time-consuming, he said. It often comes into play when a number of mid-sized servers are sharing the same array and management becomes a little ad hoc, Davis added.

Suez is currently running two EVA 5000s and two EVA 8000s. Davis said he is looking into the purchase of two or three of the new EVA 6100s for a new data centre the company has broken ground on.

Increasing utilization and improving allocation ore two of the value pillars of storage, said John Sloan, senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group, based in London, Ont. While dynamically changing the size of the LUNs addresses those, Sloan said through thin provisioning offered by vendors including 3Par, it’s not necessary to change the LUNs.

“I’m not aware of too many situations where that’s being done,” Sloan said.

Thin provisioning allows users to set up a storage volume for a server, for example 20 GB, but only use the actual storage it needs.  As far as the server is concerned, it has 20 GB of capacity. This allows administrators to overprovision – they can allocate more storage to applications than they physically have.

Improving allocation and increasing utilization are metrics that sometimes don’t resonate with decision-makers, Sloan said. But it comes down to fewer spinning disks, and fewer spinning disks mean less power consumption. “Green metrics are metrics that get people’s attention,” Sloan said.

They get Davis’s attention. Whether it’s about a particular vision – Suez is an energy company, after all – or about saving money, “it’s an issue for everybody,” he said. “I pay the bills. I would like them to be less.”

Being headquartered in Houston, better air handling and cooling make a difference to how much the data centre can take, he said. And a smaller footprint helps. “Sometimes, green comes down to how much I can stuff into the same space,” Davis said.

On the space side, Gonzales said the burgeoning blade market isn’t slowing down. “Everything’s going to blades,” he said.

HP’s new blade LTO 4 tape drive can be amortized over a number of blade units in an enclosure, said Ash Ashutosh, HP’s vice-president and chief technologist for the StorageWorks and ESS divisions. This is cheaper and more space efficient than devoting a tape drive to each server, like the ProLiant lines did, Ashutosh said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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