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Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and long-term EMC partner, said that EMC seems to be looking to add a new tier of storage, one that is faster than Tier Zero. "EMC seems to have a strategy to migrate workloads between servers and storage," he said. "Without saying it directly, EMC seems to be saying there is a higher performance level of storage outside the storage controller that's faster than Tier Zero. Maybe it's Tier Minus-One."
Many storage vendors also provide high-performance cache memory on their arrays to hold data as it is read and written, with such data eventually moved to SSD or other tiers. However, since such cache memory is only used to increase performance but not store the data, it is usually not considered part of an automated tiered storage scheme.
Vendors' implementation of automated tiered storage technology varies considerably.
Xiotech's Intelligent Storage Element (ISE), which is a sealed storage blade featuring 14.4 TBs of capacity along with the controller, power supplies, and super capacitors. features both SSDs and hard drives. It also includes the company's Continuous Adaptive Data Placement (CADP), which provides automated movement of data "hot spots" between the SSDs and hard drives based on user-configured thresholds.
Promise Technology is preparing to introduce HyperCache-R, which will automatically load hot data to the higher performance SSD tier based on the access pattern of the data, to its vTrak S3000 appliances.
Oracle offers a couple of automated tiered storage schemes. Its Smart Flash Cache works with its Oracle Database 11g to recognize database-specific I/O patterns and keep the most likely to be used data in flash based storage. The company also offers Hybrid Storage Pools for its Sun ZFS storage appliance for moving data between SSDs and high-capacity hard drives.
Oracle also offers the Sun Storage Archive Manager software for policy-driven automatic migration of data between tiers, and StorageTek Virtual Storage Manager, a feature of its virtual tape library for mainframe environments which migrates data between high-performance disk, high-capacity disk, and tape.
NetApp's Virtual Storage Tier (VST) is a self-managing, data-driven service layer based on the integration of intelligent caching and advanced storage efficiency technology. It provides real-time assessment of workload priorities and optimizes I/O requests for cost and performance to move data to the appropriate tier.
HP P9500 disk array includes “Smart Tiers” for sub-LUN tiering and “AutoLUN” for LUN-level tiering. For HP's 3PAR products, HP 3PAR Dynamic Optimization Software offers LUN-level tiering while HP 3PAR Adaptive Optimization Software offers sub-LUN tiering.
For BlueArc , automated tiered storage is a feature within its SiliconFS file system, making it available to users at no additional cost.
Hitachi Data Systems offers automated volume-based tiering on its USP, USP V, and Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) appliances. It also offers Hitachi Dynamic Tiering (HDT), a page-based automated tiering, on its VSP appliances.
Dell offers automated tiering in two of its storage platforms.
For Dell Compellent, the company's Data Progression technology intelligently and actively moves data at a granular level between different RAID levels and disk types, and can support servers using various interconnects from iSCSI to FCoE.
Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN arrays also offer dynamic tiering within primary storage arrays in its PS6000XVS and PS6010XVS appliances. The company plans new enhancements to the feature later this year.
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