HP adds auto-tiering for SSDs to StoreVirtual VSA

To make its StoreVirtual VSA more than just an SMB play, HP added auto-tiering and higher capacity licensing options.

Hewlett-Packard Co. today unveiled an upgraded StoreVirtual Virtual Storage Appliance, adding auto-tiering and larger-capacity licenses to make the virtual SAN software better suited to larger companies.

The StoreVirtual Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) runs as a virtual appliance on any server that supports VMware and Microsoft hypervisors, and turns those servers into a storage area network (SAN).

Hewlett-Packard (HP) was the first major storage vendor to launch a virtual storage appliance when it brought out the LeftHand P4000 VSA in 2007. It rebranded the product as the HP StoreVirtual VSA last year when it renamed its LeftHand iSCSI SAN platform.

The new software features include Adaptive Optimization sub-volume tiering, which moves data blocks to higher or lower performing storage based on usage. Dale Degen, a senior marketing manager for HP Storage, said the tiering is a modified version of the auto-tiering used in the HP 3PAR StoreServ platform, which is also called Adaptive Optimization.

Degen said the tiering can be implemented on a per-volume basis. Only two storage tiers are supported. He said customers began requesting the auto-tiering after installing the VSA on servers or JBODs with flash storage.

"I think flash will be the most common use case, but it's not confined to that," Degen said. "You can have two different speed hard drives and use it for that. You define which drives are the higher or lower tier, and Adaptive Optimization will manage it."

Adaptive Optimization monitors usage and keeps active data in the top tier. It works with 256-KB page sizes. Degen said the automatic tiering is only available in the StoreVirtual VSA product, not StoreVirtual hardware appliances.

HP is also broadening licensing options for the StoreVirtual VSA, adding 50 TB high-capacity licenses to its 4 TB small- and medium-sized business (SMB) license and 10 TB standard license options. Customers can cluster the 4 TB, 10 TB or 50 TB nodes to build larger virtual SANs. Degen said HP best practices recommend clusters up to 16 nodes.

Adaptive Optimization is available with 10 TB and 50 TB licenses at no extra charge.

The updated VSA will be available Sept. 30. Pricing starts at approximately $3,000 for a three-pack of 4 TB licenses. Pricing has not been set for the 10 TB and 50 TB licenses.

Degen said the StoreVirtual VSA has three major use cases: remote offices, SMBs and public cloud providers. "Service providers will be interested in the larger license configurations and tiering," he said. "It makes it easier to create and manage a second tier of storage."

HP considers the StoreVirtual VSA its software-defined storage play, although that term was not used when the product first appeared in 2007.

Arun Taneja, consulting analyst at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said HP still has the edge over other VSAs on the market. The best known competitor is VMware's vSphere Storage Appliance, which is part of VMware's overarching virtual SAN vision. But the VMware VSA is still limited to NFS file storage and three servers.

"HP was the first to convert a storage solution into a virtual machine," Taneja said. "VMware's VSA was just a toe in the water. It's an inexpensive way to create a clustered VMware environment and [it] lets VMware compete with Hyper-V among SMB customers. VMware has enabled converting DAS [direct-attached storage] into a SAN, but three nodes is way too limiting for enterprises.

"HP enabled the ability to create storage in VMware or Hyper-V environments without an expensive SAN," he continued. "You can create a pool from servers or DAS and enable vMotion and other cluster-oriented features of VMware. HP has a genuine working VSA product, while VMware is just scratching the surface."

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