Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Atmos a.k.a. Maui emerge from the shadows - but the Hulk (Infiniflex 10000) has been neutered.

Reading the Hollis blog yesterday on the much awaited Atmos a.k.a. Maui announcement I was struck by the comment “if you’re a storage array geek like me, not a lot to get excited about”. No kidding!

Taking top billing in Monday’s revelation was the introduction of yet another acronym COS – Cloud Optimized Storage. Simply put it is a highly scalable (multi-petabyte), policy-based data and information management software product with global reach. While it is claimed that it can run on any platform this initial release featured three hardware configurations, two performance and one capacity. These storage repositories can be clustered under a single namespace and while dispersed geographically can be managed centrally. Atmos automatically places data and establishes availability and protection schemes to meet service level expectations by implementing global management policies. Got to admit - impressive.

So what about the hardware?

1. While Atmos was designed to run on any hardware platform it will be initially supported on what was known as Hulk, and then Infiniflex 10000 and now the WD1-120, WD1-240 or WD1-360. At least in this Atmos instantiation of Hulk it is a simple JBOD only usable when paired with Atmos,

2. Configurations:
a. WS1-120 – performance configuration; 8 servers supporting 8 disk enclosures with 120x1TB SATA 2 drives; server to disk ration of 1:15
b. WS1-240 – performance configuration; 16 servers supporting 16 disk enclosures with 240x1TB SATA 2 drives; server to disk ration of 1:15
c. WS1-360 – capacity configuration; 6 servers supporting 24 disk enclosures with 360x1TB SATA 2 drives; server to disk ration of 1:60


3. Positioned as EMC’s high density, low cost data repository.
a. High Density - 360 TB is impressive capacity but not industry leading. The WS1 capacity configuration has a raw storage density of 50.21 Tb/sq ft compared to HP’s ExDS at 66.7 TB/sq Ft and COPAN at 89.6 TB/sq ft. EMC is dense but not industry leading.
b. Low Cost - pricing detail was not provided!


4. The JBOD racks include servers that will host Atmos.

5. The storage tray packaging does have some cleverness.

6. Atmos will deliver auto-managing, healing and configuration and deliver storage services including replication, versioning, compression, data de-duplication and spin down. However, the hardware does not currently support spin down, so some enhancements coming or an accomodation for alternative storage platforms?

7. Access to the storage hardware is via Atmos using web based API’s or legacy protocols (CIFS/ NFS/IFS). TCP/IP is the only protocol supported directly by the WS1 platform.

8. No mention of RAID data protection. It would appear that Atmos will determine the number of copies that are required to provide whatever level of protection particular data objects require. An approach reminicent of some other clustered scale-out solutions.

9. Atmos is an innovative and very ambitious approach to meeting the complex challenges that characterize global, cloud based data access and storage. However the question is whether the WD1 hardware up to the challenge or is it simply a bridge platform to support the nascent stages of building the robust data storage infrastructure that Atmos will demand.

In an earlier blog I hypothesized that perhaps there was some infighting within EMC regarding the positioning of Hulk and to how to avoid this new platform from being offered as a low cost alternative to core EMC products. I guess if you pull all the performance and connectivity teeth from the hardware configuration then there is no problem!

As already noted in a past blog, EMC continues to provide much material for the interested and observant.

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