In a traditional storage management environment, an IT administrator gets involved in many manual actions: setting up storage LUNs, virtual arrays, RAID groups, iSCSI targets, iSCSI initiators, to name a few. For those without much experience, this can be a daunting and time-consuming task.
Accordingly, HP (Palo Alto, Calif.) designed the HP StorageWorks All-in-One (AiO) storage family, and, specific to this snapshot, the AiO SB600c storage blade. The storage blade works in conjunction with the HP BladeSystem c-Class enclosure. The SB600c provides shared storage for c-Class application servers as well as data protection software.
"The AiO SB600c storage blade is designed to be managed by IT generalists with minimal storage expertise," said Jim Hankins, product marketing manager for SB600c.
He explained that the AiO Storage Manager (ASM) software interface in the system hides the complexity yet allows administrators to manage at the application level. For example, setting up iSCSI SAN storage for Microsoft Exchange in a traditional SAN environment could take about 30 steps and six user interfaces. For a veteran admin, that might consume a few hours, but for an administrator new to network storage it might require several days.
"This same process is reduced to seven mouse clicks with ASM," said Hankins. "The ASM wizard for hosting an Exchange storage group uses HP and Microsoft best practices to automate the setup of the storage, migrate the Exchange data from direct attached storage, and point the Exchange application at the new storage location."
Data migration tools for Exchange 2003/2007 and SQL Server 2000/2005 include recommended actions for IT managers to eliminate confusion or misconfiguration. Tools for hosting user-defined applications, for example, enable flexible deployment in multiple environments. In addition, administrators can quickly setup or expand data areas, migrate data and servers, and implement disk and tape backup policies.
Most competitive products deliver either NAS or iSCSI SAN, but not both. Hankins said the few that do, such as StoreVault S500 from Network Appliance (Sunnyvale, Calif.), don't include integrated data protection and can't be installed directly inside an enclosure like BladeSystem. Hence, HP claims that the SB600c is the only storage blade to deliver bladed network-attached storage, iSCSI SAN capabilities and data protection in a single device.
The AiO SB600c runs the Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 operating system with the Microsoft iSCSI software target. As an iSCSI target, the AiO SB600c can provide iSCSI storage capacity for host servers using iSCSI initiators for Windows, Linux, VMware ESX and QLogic.
This storage blade is one of several that can be installed into a BladeSystem enclosure. The others are the SB40c and the Ultrium 448c Tape Blade.
"All of these products are installed internally to the BladeSystem enclosure, so that the customer has a choice of either in-the-enclosure or externally connected storage options to support their application storage, file storage and data protection needs when deploying blade servers in their environments," said Hankins.
Pricing for the unit is relatively simple. The starting price of $9,968 includes one quad-core Intel Xeon 5345 (2.33GHz, 1333FSB) processor, 8MB Level 2 cache memory, 2 GB of memory, an integrated HP Smart Array E200i RAID controller with 128MB cache with battery-backed write-cache (supports RAID 0,1), and two small form factor 146GB 10K SAS hot plug hard disk drives. An additional processor prices in at $749, and 2GB of extra memory is priced around $329.
Pricing for the HP BladeSystem c3000 starts at $4,299. Known as "Shorty," this compact HP BladeSystem c3000 enclosure is intended for smaller sites and branch offices. Implementing the c3000 requires no special power or cooling. It is 10.5 inches high and plugs into a regular 110- or 220-volt wall outlet. A tower version will be available in the first quarter of 2008. The c3000 also supports ProLiant and Integrity servers.
HP's idea is to bring blades into a wider market by further simplifying the technology. The AiO SB600c storage blade very much fits into this strategy by providing bladed storage for the c3000. The new HP storage blade also fits into the larger HP BladeSystem c7000. The intention is for it to conquer more of the midmarket.
According to a study by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates of Denver, this midmarket segment isn't happy receiving large-enterprise solutions slimmed down for smaller deployments. Two-thirds of midsize businesses, the study explains, want technology offerings that meet their needs and are created just for them.
"Midsize customers don't want watered-down enterprise solutions," said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group. "They want complete solutions built uniquely to address their needs."
As such, SB600c storage blade can be used for backup, archiving and disaster recovery.
Buying by the Block
To aid midmarket installations looking to run multiple applications in a single environment, HP has figured out BladeSystem Solution Blocks. These represent tested and documented combinations of server blades, storage blades and management software for the the BladeSystem c3000.
These blocks are preconfigured, which reduces the time and cost it takes to deploy new applications, and it lessens the installation burden on small IT organizations.
"These blocks help customers realize power and cooling savings of up to 30 percent, and reduce cabling by up to 94 percent," said Robin Hensley, vice president, WW Storage Blades, HP StorageWorks. "They can also reduce SAN connection costs by up to 53 percent."
The HP SB600c Storage Blade Close Up
|Name||HP SB600c Storage Blade||
|Dimensions||Height: 2.207 in (5.61 cm); depth: 20.058 in (50.95 cm); width: 7.154 in (18.17 cm)|
|Processor Details||2.33 GHz quad-core Xeon|
|Hard Drives||Up to eight 146GB SAS drives|
|Operating Systems||HP UX, Windows Server 2003 (various editions), Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, OpenVMS|
|Configuration Options||Starting price of $9,968 includes one quad-core Intel Xeon 5345 processor, 2 GB of memory, an integrated RAID controller and two 146GB SAS drives; each additional processor is $749 and 2GB of extra memory is $329|