HP Virtualizes Vendors' Storage Arrays Into Single Pool

HP's new SAN Virtualization Services Platform (SVSP) is aimed at helping IT administrators better manage their storage environments, said Tom Rollins, R&D manager for HP StorageWorks.

The SVSP connects to several midrange storage arrays with a total capacity of up to 2 petabytes, and virtualizes that capacity into a single pool of storage that can be viewed and managed as a single LUN, Rollins said.

That allows customers to handle such things as data replication, disaster recovery, and on-the-fly storage migration and thin provisioning across multiple arrays using the same software tool they currently use for HP's EVA midrange storage arrays, he said.

One big application for the SVSP is nondisruptive migration, Rollins said. "Customers can add new arrays to decrease power consumption and costs, and increase performance, without shutting the storage down," he said. "Or they can purchase new high-performance 15,000-rpm hard drives and install them on the fly to increase performance."

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With the SVSP, customers can also implement disaster recovery across multiple heterogeneous arrays, and even tie them to lower-cost arrays at the disaster recovery site, he said.

Rich Baldwin, CEO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and HP partner, said his company has been working with the SVSP internally since the summer, and that it is a great play for customers whose data storage requirements have outgrown midrange storage arrays but who do not want to deal with the cost and complexity of large monolithic arrays.

"For us, it lets us scale our customers' midrange arrays to large environments," Baldwin said. "It opens the market for us to better compete against other vendors, like EMC with its Clariion CX4, which scales to 960 hard drives. I don't know you'd want to run a midrange infrastructure on an array that large. It's hard to maintain bandwidth and IO performance as it scales."

HP's EVA performs well as a standalone midrange array, but combining multiple EVAs under the SVSP solves any scalability and management issues, Baldwin said.

"Bigger customers will really appreciate this," he said. "If you like the cost and ease of ownership of modular arrays, you can now scale without the cost and complexity of monolithic arrays like EMC's Symmetrix or HP's XP. It's much more user-friendly."

The SVSP is based technology from LSI, a Milpitas, Calif.-based OEM storage vendor, which also makes many of the midrange storage arrays sold by companies such as IBM, Sun Microsystems and SGI.

HP added its own software stack to the SVSP to give it the same look and feel of its EVA arrays, Rollins said. For instance, customers can use HP's Business Copy software for local replication and Continuous Access software for remote replication, the same as they do with HP's EVA and XP arrays, he said.

The SVSP is currently certified to manage pools of storage, which include HP's EVA and MSA array families, IBM's DS and FAStT array families, EMC's Clariion CX and CX3 families, Sun's 6000 and FLX families and SGI's TP family.

The SVSP is expected to be available in December.