Monday, June 8, 2009

Hulk a.k.a. Infiniflex 12000 a.k.a. EMC Atmos Hardware.

Just in case there are still some folks out there interested in hardware I thought an update to the Hulk saga might be of interest.

At the recent EMC World event in Orlando I managed to view the somewhat neutered successor of what was originally planned to be a highly dense storage array with the “jack or better” features normally expected in a functional enterprise array.

It was initially exposed to public scrutiny in November 2008 as the the Infiniflex 12000 but that label has apparently been assigned to the product archives with the current moniker being the neutral term, Atmos Hardware.

Simply put there are three available hardware configurations WS1-120; WS1-240; WS1-360.

1. While it was explained to me that Atmos was designed to run on any hardware platform it will be initially supported only on the Atmos hardware. These devices are simple JBOD’s, only usable (and available) when paired with Atmos.
2. Configurations:

a. Performance configuration; WS1-120 –standard 40U cabinet with one 3U disk enclosure per shelf; 8 servers supporting 8 disk enclosures with 120x1TB SATA 2 drives; server to disk ration of 1:15b.
b. Performance/Capacity configuration: WS1-240 –44U cabinet with harmonic drawers that hold two disk shelves. These storage drawers do have some cleverness but EMC needs to
think with a bit more originality if the hope is to contest in the density stakes. 16 servers supporting 16 disk enclosures with 240x1TB SATA 2 drives; server to disk ration of 1:15c.
c. Capacity configuration; WS1-360 – 44U cabinet with harmonic drawers that hold two disk shelves; capacity configuration; 6 servers supporting 24 disk enclosures with 360x1TB SATA 2 drives; server to disk ration of 1:60
3. The architecture does have flexibility with servers and disk capacity that can be upgraded independently.
4. Positioned as EMC’s high density, low cost data repository. A storage density of 360 TB is impressive 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, Data Direct Networks at 80TB/sq ft, COPAN at 89.6 TB/sq ft and Atrato 99TB/sq ft. EMC is dense but not industry leading.
5. Pricing detail was not available – at least to me but if it is not sub $1/GB it is way too expensive.
6. The JBOD racks include servers that will host Atmos.
7. As noted earlier it is the Atmos software that will deliver storage services including self-healing, replication, versioning, compression, data de-duplication etc. However, if you are expecting energy efficiency Atmos hardware does not currently support spin down nor am I aware of any power management policies.
8. 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
9. Data protection is the prerogative of the Atmos application. User driven policy will determine the degree of protection by the number of copies that are required to provide whatever level of protection particular data objects require.

Atmos is an innovative and very ambitious approach designed to meeting the complex challenges that characterize global, cloud based data access and storage. However the question is whether the Atmos hardware is 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.
Time will tell.

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