FAST VP: Let it do its job!

FAST VP in actionNot all data is accessed equally. Some data is more popular than other data that may only be accessed infrequently. With the introduction of FAST VP in the CX4 & VNX series it is possible to create a single storage pool that has multiple different types of drives. The system chops your LUNs into slices and each slice is assigned a temperature based on the activity of that slice. Heavy accessed slices are hot, infrequently accessed slices are cold. FAST VP then moves the hottest slices to the fastest tier. Once that tier is full the remaining hot slices go to the second fastest tier, etc… This does absolute wonders to your TCO: your cold data is now stored on cheap NL-SAS disks instead of expensive SSDs and your end-users won’t know a thing. There’s one scenario which will get you in trouble though and that’s infrequent, heavy use of formerly cold data…

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Storage Field Day 6 is around the corner!

Storage Field Day

The Storage Field Day Logo

Last year a little bird told me about Tech Field Day: a big knowledge sharing event where multiple vendors inform a select group of people or delegates about what’s hot, new or revolutionary in their field or lineup. There’s multiple types of Field Days: networking, virtualization and (of course) storage. Storage Field Day 6 will be held on 5-7 November 2014 in Silicon Valley and… WOOHOOO, I’m attending!

Among the presenters for this year are Avere Systems, Coho Data, NEC Storage, Nexenta Systems, Nimble Storage, PureStorage, StorMagic and Tegile. I’ll be honest: I’ve only heard of a couple of these names, so I’ve got a bit of reading up to do in the next couple of days and I can’t wait to hear what they bring to the table.

I’d like to thank the Tech Field Day team (Stephen, Claire and Tom) for inviting me and flying me to San Jose next week. I’m looking forward to an exciting and challenging week filled with tech and discussions. Keep an eye on the Storage Field Day 6 page for the live stream of the event and this page for updates during the week! And maybe I’ll sneak in a picture of the Golden Gate bridge if I get the chance… ;)

VNX2 MCx FAST Cache improvements

EMC World 2013 - Day 3 306MCx FAST Cache is an addition to the regular DRAM cache in a VNX. DRAM cache is very fast but also (relatively) expensive so an array will have a limited amount of it. Spinning disks are large in capacity and relatively cheap but slow. To bridge the performance gap there are the solid-state drives; both performance wise and cost wise somewhere between DRAM and spinning disks. There’s one problem though: a LUN usually isn’t 100% active all of the time. This means that placing a LUN on SSDs might not drive your SSDs hard enough to get the most from your investment. If only there was software that makes sure only the hottest data is placed on those SSDs and that will quickly adjust this data placement depending on the changing workload, you’d have a lot more bang for your buck. Enter MCx FAST Cache: now with an improved software stack with less overhead which results in better write performance.

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VNX2 MCx Cache improvements

MCx Cache improvements Forced FlushingWhen troubleshooting performance in a CLARiiON or VNX storage array you’ll often see graphs that resemble something like this: write cache maxing out to 100% on one or even two storage processors. Once this occurs the array starts a process called forced flushing to flush writes to disk and create new space in the cache for incoming writes. This absolutely wrecks the performance of all applications using the array. With the MCx cache improvements made in the VNX2 series there should be a lot less forced flushes and a much improved performance.

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Your chance to nominate the EMC Elect 2015!

EMC Elect 2015 nominationsIt is that time of year again: time to select the EMC Elect 2015! EMC Elect is a recognition program for the top EMC social media guru’s worldwide. Customers, EMC partners or employees, independent analysts: everyone can become a part of the EMC Elect 2015. To do so, you only need to be nominated (that’s phase 1) and survive the judging process (phase 2 performed by the EMC Elect judging panel). Interested?

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Adding Isilon Nodes in 60 Seconds

Adding Isilon nodesLast year EMC installed two new three-node Isilon clusters for one of our customers. 13 months later the customer needs more capacity so the time for adding Isilon nodes to the existing clusters has finally come. Good news for me: since the initial install I got certified to install Isilon systems myself so these expansions are all mine! EMC marketing promises an Isilon cluster expansion in 60 seconds; let’s put it to the test!

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VNX2 Hot Spare and Drive Mobility Hands-On

A big change in the VNX2 hot spare policy compared to earlier VNX or CLARiiON models is the use of permanent hot spares. Whereas the earlier models would have dedicated, configured hot spares that would only be used during the drive failure, the VNX2 will use any eligible unused drive to spare to and NOT switch back to the original drive. I’ve written about this and other new VNX2 features but didn’t get to try it first hand yet. Until now:  a drive died, yay! Continue reading to see how you can back-track which drive failed, which drive replaced it and how to move the drive back to the original physical location (should you want to).

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Brocade reset to factory default settings (or just brick it)

A pile of decommissioned Brocade switches. Or now: doorsteps.Last weekend we replaced six old Brocade SAN switches with brand new Cisco MDS 9148 switches. Everything went according to plan with no disruption to the rest of the infrastructure. I was however stuck with a bunch of old Brocade 4900 switches ready to be decommissioned. Performing a Brocade reset to factory default settings proved to be a bit of a challenge though…

If you ask Google how to perform a Brocade reset to factory default settings, you’ll find a lot of commands. One command removes the zoning, another command removes a different part of the config, a third command replaces some config values with the default settings. However, none of these commands reset the IP configuration, user passwords or switch name. Which is kind of awkward since that’s THE part of the switch config you wouldn’t want to become public domain…

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EMC Elect Redefining Possible at MegaLaunch IV

(C) Sean Thulin“Check your email ;)”. That was the first Twitter DM I read one sleepy morning in June. It’ll suffice to say, a minute later I was wide awake: I was chosen to represent the EMC Elect at the EMC “Redefine Possible” MegaLaunch event in London (UK)! I knew about these launch events because my colleague Rob attended one last year in Milan. Excitement started building and a couple of hours later I figured out I wasn’t going alone…

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Redefine Possible – Isilon

Redefine Possible LogoJuly 8th 2014. EMC MegaLaunch 4. Theme: Redefine Possible (or #RedefinePossible on Twitter). What previously was impossible, now is possible! Catchy theme and something that we’ve seen in IT for a number of times now. For example: In the 1990’s, who would have thought it was possible to migrate a server from one datacenter to another, possibly a couple of miles away, without downtime, in a couple of seconds?! Doing things fundamentally different, better: that’s the goal we’re always trying to achieve. So how can we apply this to Isilon?

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