Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Canadian Stakeholders in Data Storage hold Discussions

Last Friday, July 16th, the representatives from Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Canada Geo-forum, SNIA End-User Council and Toronto SNUG got together to brainstorm and produce a list of potential activities of interest for the next year.

The meeting was held at Sun Microsystems facility in Markham and lead by Wayne Hogan (Sun Microsystems), acting SNIA Canada Chair and Laurence Whittaker (Hudson Bay Company), Vice Chair SNIA End User Council and Acting Chair Toronto SNUG. The other participants were Rudy Lippens, acting Treasurer of SNIA Canada, myself, Eric Jenkinson (Foresters), and Rick Dart, Robert Smalley and Shawn Pritchard (all three from Bank of Montreal).

First of all, in my opinion, this was truly a very productive meeting (a rarity these days). The meeting started out with Wayne introducing SNIA Canada and Laurence introducing the SNIA End User Council and Toronto SNUG followed by an open discussion.

Following is the summary of discussions highlighting points and suggestions made by various attendees.

- Elections for SNIA Canada executives will take place probably in September 2004. Various SNUG chapters in Canada will have representation on the SNIA Canada executive board.

- SNIA Canada is planning to have a three-tier membership fee structure for Vendors, Resellers and End-users. An issue about exempting government employees and academic people from membership fees was discussed. An issue was also brought up to clarify how the membership of a Canadian in SNIA USA will impact the membership in SNIA Canada.

- It was pointed that End User Council at SNIA organization in USA (SNIA USA) sees itself as change agent. A suggestion was made to establish SNIA Canada End User Council to give Canadian end-users a united voice at SNIA Canada as well as at SNIA End User Council. Also it was suggested to encourage SNIA Canada members to participate in various committees at SNIA USA.

- The main focus of the SNIA Canada is end-user outreach and delivering education and information to data storage and IT community. And as a start, TSI Learning is offering discount to SNIA Canada members on its storage certification courses. A suggestion was brought up about requesting TSI to offer SNIA Canada membership as an incentive to their students.

- The first SNIA Canada sponsored event will be the IP Storage Roadshow, Toronto in October. SNIA Canada is planning to take this event to Calgary and Montreal also with the help of Infostream. This event is also being positioned as the showcase of the value SNIA Canada brings to the table by bringing SNIA events to different cities in Canada from all over the world.

- SNIA Canada plans to have sessions and events on quarterly basis. A suggestion was put forward to bring analysts from market research firms as event speakers to profile the storage market in Canada.

- Put together a speakers board - people willing to speak voluntarily at various events, their credentials, topics of interest and availability in various cities around Canada.

- Organize short training sessions on specific topics for SNIA Canada and SNUG members.

- Develop How To’s, Best Practices, RFP Guidelines and TCO/ROI models.

- Inviting vendors to communicate and present their technology and product roadmaps on specific SNIA initiatives such as SMI-S.

- Elevating public awareness of SNIA Canada and data storage technologies through SNIA Canada speakers presenting at other organizations such as Disaster Recovery Information Exchange (DRIE) and Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS).

- Inviting local universities and academic researchers to get involve in SNIA Canada and communicate their interests.

- Informal exchange of information and experiences from end-user perspective; end-user case studies and in-depth technical overview presentations from vendors and other technical people.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

500 GB Internal storage per server ... think again!

Recently, I was involved in discussions with a company that has spent over $80,000 purchasing 6 servers for file and print services, database and backup with almost 4.5 TB of internal storage.

The company didn't want to go to Fibre Channel (FC) Storage Area Network (SAN) because of the cost involved and complexity, which I can understand. But what I don't get is why companies continue to purchase internal storage when direct attached external storage is becoming cheaper everyday.

My rule of thumb is if you are purchasing 1.5 TB of total internal storage or going to have more than 500 GB per server on average, think again. External Storage may be a good option for you.

I also believe that this is a very sweet spot for iSCSI storage array manufacturers. Instead of trying to outgun FC storage and FC SAN or positioning as a cheaper "SAN" using iSCSI, focus on replacing internal storage and direct-attached external storage. This may be the opportunity iSCSI companies are overlooking.

EMC SnapView - Quick Refresher 1


EMC SnapView storage system based software is to create a copy of a LUN by using clones and snapshots. It is used primarily for system backups and testing. Clone is actual complete copy and snapshot is a virtual point-in-time copy of source LUN.
  • Full access to production data with minimal performance impact.
  • Coherent, readable and writable copy of production data at a particular point in time
  • Offload the backup overhead to another host.
  1. SnapView driver that resides on storage system with LUNs you want to copy.
  2. admsnap utlity (command line executable) for managing clones and snapshots resides on the hosts connected to the storage system that has SnapView driver.
  3. Setup through Navisphere Manager GUI or CLI.
SnapView requires at least two hosts:
  • Production host that contains the LUN you want to copy (source LUN) and runs customer applications.
  • Another host that lets you view the clone or snapshot, owns them, reads from or writes to them and performs independent tasks such as backup using clone or snapshot.
  • With Manager 6.x, a third host, the client host performs all storage system functions.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

EMC Clariion: Quick Refresher 1

Optional software for EMC Clariion
EMC MirrorView for remote mirroring
EMC SnapView for creating snapshots and clones
EMC SAN Copy for copying data between storage systems.
Two storage processors (SP) manage the EMC Clariion hardware RAID features. All Clariion has two SP.

The main hardware difference in base CX700 from CX500/CX300 is that CX700 comes with a Storage Processor Enclosure (SPE) and, in addition, requires at least one 2 Gbit Disk Array Enclosure (DAE2) with 15 Fibre Channel (FC) disks.

Clariion SystemMax DAE2Max Disks
*Including 2-Gbit Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE2)

Clariion SystemMax. Switch Ports per Storage Processor (SP)Max. Disk Ports per SPMax. Server Ports Connection per SPMax. Server Ports Connection per system
EMC Clariion uses switch fabric and FC-AL topologies. The maximum optical cable length between CX300/500/700 and a server/switch ranges from 150 to 500 meters depending on cable type and speed (extended up to 60 kms with extenders). EMC recommends single-initiator switch zoning, i.e. different zones for different initiators.

The shared (direct or switched) installation require EMC Access Logix software to control LUN access. The clustered-direct installation can use cluster software controlling LUN access.

Switch zoning can prevent communication with an SP but not with specific LUNs attached to an SP. Storage Groups are required for access control with LUNs. Storage Group is a group of LUNs within storage system assigned to specific servers and inaccessible to others. Access Logix enforces the servers permission to a storage group.

Clariion supports five RAID levels (RAID 5, 3, 1, 0, 1/0) and two other disk configurations (individual unit, global "hot" spare). An additional type of redundant disk, remote mirror for any RAID except hot spare.

One RAID 5 (Individual Access Array) group, consists of three to sixteen disks, offers excellent read performance. Up to 128 LUNs can be created with in one RAID 5 group.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

SNCP Level 2 Exam – Confusion Abound

I further investigated the status of SNCP Level 2 Exam after June 30, 2004. There seems to be some confusion regarding the validity of SNCP Level 2 Exam toward new credentials.
  • The SNCP Transition Policy states

    “Level 2 FC SAN Practitioner … exams will be available to take until they are replaced in Fall, 2004.”

    “There will be no credential or certificate awarded for passing the Level 2 … exams after June 30, 2004.”

  • The Thomson Prometric shows the client information page with following information upon selection of SNIA Certification Program:

    “The SNIA FC-SAN Practitioner certification that tests for understanding of features, functions and underlying technology will be leveraged into the Standards domain.”

    "This exam is scheduled to be replaced this fall. If this exam is passed in 2003 and 2004 (while available) and the SNIA Storage Network Foundations exam is also passed in 2004, it will result in the SNIA Certified Systems Engineer certification credential.”

At this point, I am moving forward with the assumption that upon passing FC SAN Practitioner exam and SNIA Storage Network Foundation exam between July and December 2004, SNIA Certified Systems Engineer certification will be awarded. Please do let me know if this assumption is incorrect.

Last couple of weeks, I talked to several people who passed SNCP Level 2 exam regarding the preparation resources, and dos and don’ts, which I will share with you in my next blog.