Storage Optimization

The New Storage Cost Metric: Petabytes/Admin

Posted in HP,Storage by storageoptimization on May 13, 2008

Some Thoughts on HP’s New Massively Scalable NAS

Last week HP announced a new massively scalable NAS solution they called Extreme Storage (ExDS)

As Judy Mottl at notes, HP’s offering is interesting in several ways, including a very aggressive list price of under $2 per Gigabyte, and the fact that performance and amount of storage scale separately.
One of the most interesting things about ExDS, though, is that HP is talking about a metric for measuring storage cost that I haven’t seen much discussion of to date – Petabytes/admin.
In other words, HP is putting a focus on making it easy to deploy and manage a huge amount of storage with one person.

Now, in some ways, this is just a twist on ease of use, but ease of use at scale is different than ease of use on a small filer. For example, Network Appliance has always done a great job of making it easy to configure and deploy a filer. However, making a filer with 5 Terabytes easy to deploy doesn’t make it easy to deploy and manage 10 Petabytes of storage – which is the situation a lot of customers are finding themselves in – especially in key growth areas like web 2.0, social media, online email, and rich media.
If you have to deploy 50 or 100 filers to get to scale, the fact that each one was easy pales in comparison to having to do it 100 times, and then monitor and manage 100 standalone puddles of storage.
At the rate that unstructured storage is growing managing massive amounts of storage with a small number of storage admins is going to be increasingly important.

It looks like HP has done a good job of this – simplifying the whole stack for the storage admin, from the lowest hardware level all the way up through provisioning, deployment, and what users see. If so, then the metric Petabytes/Admin will become one of the most important metrics in comparing scalable storage solutions. Of course, when you add storage optimization to the mix, the $/Gigabyte go down and the Petabytes/Admin go up.
As Mary Jander at Byte and Switch comments, with EMC’s forthcoming Hulk/Maui combination, and IBM’s purchase of scalable storage solution XIV, massively scalable storage is shaping up to be a major battlefront. As that battle takes shape, look for the P/A ratio to be a key measure to watch. Kudo’s to HP for bringing it to the forefront.


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