Gartner’s verdict on mid-range and enterprise class storage arrays

Previously I wrote an article on how to select a SAN based on your requirement. Let’s learn what Gartner’s verdict on Storage. Gartner scores storage arrays in mid-range and enterprise class storage. Here are details of Gartner score.

Mid-Range Storage

Mid-range storage arrays are scored on manageability, Reliability and Availability (RAS), performance, snapshot and replication, scalability, the ecosystem, multi-tenancy and security, and storage efficiency.

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Figure: Product Rating

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Figure: Storage Capabilities

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Figure: Product Capabilities

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Figure: Total Score

Enterprise Class Storage

Enterprise class storage is scored on performance, reliability, scalability, serviceability, manageability, RAS, snapshot and replication, ecosystem, multi-tenancy, security, and storage efficiency. Vendor reputation are more important in this criteria. Product types are clustered, scale-out, scale-up, high-end (monolithic) arrays and federated architectures. EMC, Hitachi, HP, Huawei, Fujitsu, DDN, and Oracle arrays can all cluster across more than 2 controllers. These vendors are providing functionality, performance, RAS and scalability to be considered in this class.

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Figure: Product Ratings (Source: Gartner)

Where does Dell Compellent Stand?

There are known disadvantages in Dell Compellent storage array, users with more than two nodes must carefully plan firmware upgrades during a time of low I/O activity or during periods of planned downtime. Even though Dell Compellent advertised as flash cached, Read SSD and Write SSD with storage tiering, snapshot. In realty Dell Compellent does its own thing in background which most customer isn’t aware of. Dell Compellent run RAID scrub every day whether you like it or not which generate huge IOPS in all tiered arrays which are both SSD and SATA disks. You will experience poor IO performance during RAID scrub. When Write SSD is full Compellent controller automatically trigger an on demand storage tiering during business hour and forcing data to be written permanently in tier 3 disks which will literally kill virtualization, VDI and file systems. Storage tiering and RAID scrub will send storage latency off the roof. If you are big virtualization and VDI shop than you are left with no option but to experience this poor performance and let RAID scrub and tiering finish at snail pace. If you have terabytes of data to be backed up every night you will experience extended backup window, un-achievable RPO and RTO regardless of change block tracking (CBT) enabled in backup products.

If you are one of Compellent customer wondering why Garner didn’t include Dell Compellent in Enterprise class. Now you know why Dell Compellent is excluded in enterprise class matrix as Dell Compellent doesn’t fit into the functionality and capability requirement to be considered as enterprise class. There is another factor that may worry existing Dell EqualLogic customer as there is no direct migration path and upgrade path have been communicated with on premises storage customers once OEM relationship between Dell and EMC ends. Dell pro-support and partner channel confirms that Dell will no longer sell SAS drive which means IO intense array will lose storage performance. These situations put users of co-branded Dell:EMC CX systems in the difficult position of having to choose between changing changing storage system technologies or changing storage vendor all together.

Upgrade HP Firmware using Smart Update Manager (HP SUM)

You can run the Smart Update Firmware DVD either online or offline. When performing an offline deployment, you can boot the server from the Smart Update Firmware DVD or from a USB drive key that contains the Smart Update Firmware DVD contents. Download the latest Smart Update ISO, go to http://www.hp.com/support, Search the model of your server, select the Windows Operating System version, locate the Software – CD-ROM section on this page, and then click the Download button. Download and Save the ISO on Admin PC.

Temporarily disable BitLocker support to allow firmware updates in Windows Server:
1. Click Start, and then search for gpedit.msc in the Search Text box.
2. When the Local Group Policy Editor starts, click Local Computer Policy.
3. Click Computer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsBitlocker Drive Encryption.
4. When the BitLocker settings are displayed, double-click Control Panel Setup: Enable Advanced startup options.
5. When the dialog box appears, click Disable.
6. Close all windows, and then start the firmware update.

Deploying components online

1. Insert the Smart Update Firmware DVD or USB drive key. The Smart Update Firmware DVD interface opens. Open a CLI. To access the Smart Update Firmware DVD, enter one of the following commands:
On Windows operating systems, enter:
_autorunautorun_win
On Linux operating systems, enter:
/autorun

2. Read the End-User License Agreement. To continue, click Agree. The Smart update Firmware DVD interface appears.
3. Click the Firmware Update tab.
4. Click Install Firmware. HP SUM is initiated.
5. Select and install components.

Deploying offline

1. Plug in the USB key with the Automatic Mode ISO image or use the Automatic Mode ISO image from a hard drive on a remote client computer.
2. Using Microsoft Internet Explorer, browse to ILO Management IP address.
3. Log in with your iLO administrative credentials.
4. Click the virtual media tab, and then click Virtual Media Applet.
5. In the Virtual CD/DVD-ROM section, click Local Image File.
6. Click Browse. Locate the firmware ISO image, and then click Open.
7. To connect to the ISO image, click Connect.
8. Return to the iLO website. Click the Power Management tab.
9. Using the Momentary Press button, power up the server.
10. Once booted, at the menu, select either Automatic Mode (default) or Interactive Mode. At the prompt, select a language and keyboard.
11. Click Continue. Read the End-User License Agreement. To continue, click Agree. The Smart Update Firmware DVD interface appears.
12. Click the Firmware Update tab. Click Install Firmware. HP SUM is initiated.
13. Select and install components. Reboot the server. A remote console session is terminated if the iLO firmware is updated during the Automatic Mode firmware update process.

how to install HP branded brocade HBA on ESX 4.1

Step1: Place ESX Host into maintenance mode

Log on to ESX host using vSphere 4.1 Client and place Host into maintenance mode.

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Step2: HBA Bios Upgrade (Only for HP Proliant G7): To perform an offline BIOS update on an HP-branded Brocade HBA card that has been installed on the VMware vSphere ESX 4.1 host system follow the steps as below:

  • Download HBA live cd from Offline BIOS Upgrade Installation kit for HP branded Brocade HBAs
  • Create a CD from the Offline BIOS Upgrade Installation ISO image.
  • Insert the CD into the CD/DVD drive or mount ISO using iLO and then boot the system.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts and instructions to boot.
  • Access the system command shell so that you can issue BCU commands.
  • Use one of the following commands to update the HBA boot code:
  • To update HBA boot code in all adapters in the server, enter the BCU command:
  • # #bcu boot –upload brocade_adapter_boot_fw_v2-1-1-0 -a
  • To update HBA boot code in a single adapter, enter the BCU command:
    # bcu boot –upload 1 brocade_adapter_boot_fw_v2-1-1-0
  • Reboot the system.

where:

  • 1 is the adapter_id HBA if you have multiple HBA.
  • brocade_adapter_boot_fw_v2-1-1-0 is the name of the firmware image file.
  • -a indicates that the boot code should be uploaded to all installed Brocade HBAs on the host.

Step3: Install HBA Driver

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  • Download and install VMware vSphere CLI
  • Open CLI and change directory to C:Program FilesVMwareVMware vSphere CLIbin
  • .Vihostupdate.pl Server 10.12.243.130 –-username root –-password Password1 -–install –-bundle E:offline-bundleBCD-bfa-2.3.0.2-00000-offline_bundle-344638.zip
  • Reboot ESX Host Server
  • Log on to ESX host using vSphere Client
  • Click Configuration>click Storage Adapters>Rescan and you will be presented with FC HBA

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