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Location and Price Really Matter in Storage
Like they say in the housing market, the top 3 factors that determine
price are location, location, location.The same can be said for storage
real estate. Any poor choices placing data will cost you dearly, but
choose wisely and the cost savings become significant.
Stick to two guiding principles and you’ll do just fine; a) Devote your fastest
storage space to your most time-sensitive workloads, and b) don’t waste your
premium-priced storage space on content that seldom gets accessed.
If it were only that easy.Truth is that unlike home buying habits, user access
patterns change very frequently. Content that was driving interest one day
becomes old news the next. And there’s no way you could possibly take
the time to shuffle information around to keep up with their fickled ways.
That’s where insider knowledge and a little automation come in handy.
Intelligent tradeoffs between cost and performance
The science of automated storage tiering distills down to monitoring I/O
behavior, determining frequency of use, then dynamically moving blocks of
information to the most suitable class or tier of storage device. DataCore™
SANsymphony™-V software automatically “promotes” most frequently
used blocks to the fastest tier, whereas least frequently used blocks get
“demoted” to the slowest tier. Everything else floats to the middle.
Of course, there will be exceptions, especially when you need to assign high
performance storage to an infrequently used volume, as in special end-of-
quarter processing. In these cases, you can pin specific volumes (virtual
disks) to a tier of your choosing, or define an “affinity” to a particular tier.
Only if that tier is completely exhausted, will a lower tier be chosen.
Automated StorageTiering
Making Good Decisions onYour Behalf
WHITEPAPER
2
The Economics ofTiers in
Virtual Storage Pools
In order to appreciate the financial
motivation for auto-tiering, consider the
price/performance differences among
the three most popular classes of disks
in use today. Leading with the highest
performance at the steepest price are Solid
State Disks (SSDs). Next are Serial Attached
SCSI (SAS) drives, followed by the most
economical Serial ATA (SATA) disks.
For random disk read patterns, SSDs are
said to be 25 to 100 times faster than
SAS hard disk drives (HDDs) at roughly
15 to 20 times higher cost per Gigabyte.
In practice, SSDs substantially reduce
the number of HDDs required for heavy
random I/O pattern. Just one SSD PCI I/O
card may yield the equivalent of 320 hard
disk drives.That’s 300 times less hardware
to house, maintain, cool, and watch over.
Say the disk capacity in your data
center is split among 3 classes of
disks as shown in Figure 1:
•	 5% Flash SSD [Fastest, most
expensive, ] Tier 1
•	 35% SAS HDD [ Midrange,
modestly priced] Tier 2
•	 60% SATA HDD [ Lowest cost, highest
capacity ] Tier 3
In general, you wouldn’t want to waste
the premium priced SSD capacity on
infrequently used blocks, so the DataCore
software will keep the least active
information on the lowest cost, capacity-
optimized SATA disks corresponding
toTier 3. On the other hand, when the
auto-tiering algorithms detect sustained
heavy use of certain other blocks, they will
naturally bubble up to theTier 1 SSDs.
•	 SSDs substantially reduce the
number of HDDs required for
heavy random I/O pattern
•	 HDDs are better suited for
serial I/O patterns
Unlike the narrow and often rigid
classification done inside disk enclosures,
DataCore storage virtualization software
allows you to define tiers according to your
own price/performance index. Perhaps your
diverse storage pool consists of top-shelf,
premium disk arrays from one vendor, mid-
range RAID subsystems from another, and
relatively inexpensive racks of unintelligent
disk drives (JBODs). You define what
constitutes each tier, relative to the other
members of the pool.You may set up as many
as 16 tiers, although 3 or 4 tiers are usually
enough to help you make good tradeoffs.
As new storage products arrive on the
market, the top rung could shift down to
make room for an even higher performing,
albeit costlier, disk technology.
5%
Flash SSD
Fastest / Most Expensive
Tier1
60%
SATA HDD
Lowest cost, highest capacity
Tier3
35%
SAS HDD
Midrange / Moderately priced
Tier2
Figure 1
3
NotYour Parent’s HSM
We should make one important clarification.
In contrast to old fashioned hierarchical
storage management (HSM), auto-tiering
is not involved in aging files to nearline or
offline storage, for long term backups and
archive. It strictly works on online, active
disk storage, and operates at the block or
chunk level. It has no notion of file systems
or database structure, nor do you want it to.
Heat MapTells the Story
One way to visualize what’s going on is to
think of the data center’s storage address
space as a collection of small chunks on a
grid. Rather than one square per disk drive,
we’ll use 128 MB per chunk in this example.
This is known as sub LUN auto-tiering. If
you were to color code the map according
to most active chunks, you would see
certain areas glowing red, indicating heavy
use, whereas others might be a cool blue,
signifying little use, while yellow covered
everything in-between. SANsymphony-V
works silently behind the scenes to promote
the blocks in the hot area to the top tier
and demote blue chunks to lower tiers.
Adaptive, FineTuningYields
Optimal Performance
Note that while you may have a very large
database mapped to one or more disk
drives, auto-tiering operates on a more
granular level.The software only promotes
those chunks in the database that merit
faster disks.You don’t have that kind of
fine tuning dial as an administrator.
This adaptive behavior results in the
best application response for your
most time-sensitive workloads.
Caching for Further Acceleration
You’ll hear auto-tiering discussions
debate the distinction between migration
and caching as if they were mutually
exclusive. DataCore gives you both, and
also lets you override either for specific
virtual disks when conditions dictate.
From our vantage point, SANsymphony-V
adaptive caching provides acceleration
across the entire storage pool; a kind
of turbo-charger for any disk I/O.The
caches speed up read and write requests.
Frequently read blocks on a very fine
scale of 4KB remain in cache to offload
the back-end disks, and reduce I/O
latency. Random writes benefit from write
coalescing into more sequential disk I/O.
Caching proves invaluable regardless
of which tier the blocks currently
reside in, and tend to be react much
more quickly to short term bursts.
No Manual Intervention
Necessary
For system administrators, the operative
word in automated storage tiering is
“auto”. Set and go policies relieve you of
stressful and time consuming changes
to your infrastructure.There’s no time
wasted in a futile attempt to get the best
distribution of disks to workloads.Yet you
still have overarching control through the
definition of tiers and profiles.These govern
how the software implements your price/
performance preferences, which you can
adjust as conditions on the ground change.
Frequently
accessed data
VIRTUAL DISK
Moderately
accessed data
Infrequently
accessed data
DISK POOL
Tier 1
(fastest)
Tier 3
(lowest cost)
Tier 2
(midrange)
TIER DISTRIBUTION WITHIN A VIRTUAL DISK
For additional information, please visit www.datacore.com or email info@datacore.com
© 2012 DataCore Software Corporation. All Rights Reserved. DataCore, the DataCore logo and SANsymphony are trademarks or registered trademarks
of DataCore Software Corporation. All other products, services and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
About DataCore Software
DataCore Software develops the storage virtualization software needed to get the highest availability, fastest performance and
maximum utilization from storage resources in physical and virtual IT environments. It provides the critical 3rd dimension on which the
success of server and desktop virtualization projects hinge, regardless of the models and brands of storage devices used.
0612
Common Use Cases – From
General Purpose toVirtualized IT
Server and desktop virtualization (VDI)
initiatives have spurred the urgency to
automate storage tiering, largely because
the blend in workloads is so pronounced that
siloed practices for optimizing disk allocation
simply break down. In years past, when a
server was dedicated to an application, one
could reasonably model and predict the
best mix of storage to meet the response
needs. You could make intelligent and semi-
permanent decisions as to which workloads
deserved the pricier disk technology.Try
that with 1200 virtual machines sharing a
multi-tiered SAN.You see the difficulty.
Having said that, DataCore customers
can take advantage of auto-tiering
across the myriad of diverse data center
scenarios, whether fully virtualized
IT environments, private or public
clouds and more conventional physical
configurations. Again, it’s important
to recognize that SANsymphony-V
automates tiering across not just different
disk technologies, but across different,
often incompatible models of storage
devices regardless of manufacturer.
No Special Hardware Required
DataCore implements auto-tiering software
outside the storage systems, rather than
confining it to any one of them. It requires no
special hardware.The latest SSD technology
may sit side-by-side with your legacy
hard disk drives. SANsymphony-V simply
takes over the control with equal ease.
Can’t do without it
Now that storage represents the largest
single cost in the IT infrastructure and
the most critical element in the overall
performance of virtual environments,
intelligently managing how disk space
gets allocated becomes paramount.The
automated storage tiering feature built
into DataCore SANsymphony-V, along
with the entire suite of device-independent
storage virtualization services helps you
maximize the utilization, performance
and availability of those precious assets.
Tier 3
BELOW average
moves DOWN a tier
ABOVE average
moves UP a tier
Tier 2 Tier 1
Chunks
AUTO TIERING – HOW IT WORKS
Monitor I/O behavior for groups of disk blocks (chunks)
Compare access frequency against average for each tier
Promote or demote chunks to most suitable tier

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Automated Storage Tiering

  • 1. Location and Price Really Matter in Storage Like they say in the housing market, the top 3 factors that determine price are location, location, location.The same can be said for storage real estate. Any poor choices placing data will cost you dearly, but choose wisely and the cost savings become significant. Stick to two guiding principles and you’ll do just fine; a) Devote your fastest storage space to your most time-sensitive workloads, and b) don’t waste your premium-priced storage space on content that seldom gets accessed. If it were only that easy.Truth is that unlike home buying habits, user access patterns change very frequently. Content that was driving interest one day becomes old news the next. And there’s no way you could possibly take the time to shuffle information around to keep up with their fickled ways. That’s where insider knowledge and a little automation come in handy. Intelligent tradeoffs between cost and performance The science of automated storage tiering distills down to monitoring I/O behavior, determining frequency of use, then dynamically moving blocks of information to the most suitable class or tier of storage device. DataCore™ SANsymphony™-V software automatically “promotes” most frequently used blocks to the fastest tier, whereas least frequently used blocks get “demoted” to the slowest tier. Everything else floats to the middle. Of course, there will be exceptions, especially when you need to assign high performance storage to an infrequently used volume, as in special end-of- quarter processing. In these cases, you can pin specific volumes (virtual disks) to a tier of your choosing, or define an “affinity” to a particular tier. Only if that tier is completely exhausted, will a lower tier be chosen. Automated StorageTiering Making Good Decisions onYour Behalf WHITEPAPER
  • 2. 2 The Economics ofTiers in Virtual Storage Pools In order to appreciate the financial motivation for auto-tiering, consider the price/performance differences among the three most popular classes of disks in use today. Leading with the highest performance at the steepest price are Solid State Disks (SSDs). Next are Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives, followed by the most economical Serial ATA (SATA) disks. For random disk read patterns, SSDs are said to be 25 to 100 times faster than SAS hard disk drives (HDDs) at roughly 15 to 20 times higher cost per Gigabyte. In practice, SSDs substantially reduce the number of HDDs required for heavy random I/O pattern. Just one SSD PCI I/O card may yield the equivalent of 320 hard disk drives.That’s 300 times less hardware to house, maintain, cool, and watch over. Say the disk capacity in your data center is split among 3 classes of disks as shown in Figure 1: • 5% Flash SSD [Fastest, most expensive, ] Tier 1 • 35% SAS HDD [ Midrange, modestly priced] Tier 2 • 60% SATA HDD [ Lowest cost, highest capacity ] Tier 3 In general, you wouldn’t want to waste the premium priced SSD capacity on infrequently used blocks, so the DataCore software will keep the least active information on the lowest cost, capacity- optimized SATA disks corresponding toTier 3. On the other hand, when the auto-tiering algorithms detect sustained heavy use of certain other blocks, they will naturally bubble up to theTier 1 SSDs. • SSDs substantially reduce the number of HDDs required for heavy random I/O pattern • HDDs are better suited for serial I/O patterns Unlike the narrow and often rigid classification done inside disk enclosures, DataCore storage virtualization software allows you to define tiers according to your own price/performance index. Perhaps your diverse storage pool consists of top-shelf, premium disk arrays from one vendor, mid- range RAID subsystems from another, and relatively inexpensive racks of unintelligent disk drives (JBODs). You define what constitutes each tier, relative to the other members of the pool.You may set up as many as 16 tiers, although 3 or 4 tiers are usually enough to help you make good tradeoffs. As new storage products arrive on the market, the top rung could shift down to make room for an even higher performing, albeit costlier, disk technology. 5% Flash SSD Fastest / Most Expensive Tier1 60% SATA HDD Lowest cost, highest capacity Tier3 35% SAS HDD Midrange / Moderately priced Tier2 Figure 1
  • 3. 3 NotYour Parent’s HSM We should make one important clarification. In contrast to old fashioned hierarchical storage management (HSM), auto-tiering is not involved in aging files to nearline or offline storage, for long term backups and archive. It strictly works on online, active disk storage, and operates at the block or chunk level. It has no notion of file systems or database structure, nor do you want it to. Heat MapTells the Story One way to visualize what’s going on is to think of the data center’s storage address space as a collection of small chunks on a grid. Rather than one square per disk drive, we’ll use 128 MB per chunk in this example. This is known as sub LUN auto-tiering. If you were to color code the map according to most active chunks, you would see certain areas glowing red, indicating heavy use, whereas others might be a cool blue, signifying little use, while yellow covered everything in-between. SANsymphony-V works silently behind the scenes to promote the blocks in the hot area to the top tier and demote blue chunks to lower tiers. Adaptive, FineTuningYields Optimal Performance Note that while you may have a very large database mapped to one or more disk drives, auto-tiering operates on a more granular level.The software only promotes those chunks in the database that merit faster disks.You don’t have that kind of fine tuning dial as an administrator. This adaptive behavior results in the best application response for your most time-sensitive workloads. Caching for Further Acceleration You’ll hear auto-tiering discussions debate the distinction between migration and caching as if they were mutually exclusive. DataCore gives you both, and also lets you override either for specific virtual disks when conditions dictate. From our vantage point, SANsymphony-V adaptive caching provides acceleration across the entire storage pool; a kind of turbo-charger for any disk I/O.The caches speed up read and write requests. Frequently read blocks on a very fine scale of 4KB remain in cache to offload the back-end disks, and reduce I/O latency. Random writes benefit from write coalescing into more sequential disk I/O. Caching proves invaluable regardless of which tier the blocks currently reside in, and tend to be react much more quickly to short term bursts. No Manual Intervention Necessary For system administrators, the operative word in automated storage tiering is “auto”. Set and go policies relieve you of stressful and time consuming changes to your infrastructure.There’s no time wasted in a futile attempt to get the best distribution of disks to workloads.Yet you still have overarching control through the definition of tiers and profiles.These govern how the software implements your price/ performance preferences, which you can adjust as conditions on the ground change. Frequently accessed data VIRTUAL DISK Moderately accessed data Infrequently accessed data DISK POOL Tier 1 (fastest) Tier 3 (lowest cost) Tier 2 (midrange) TIER DISTRIBUTION WITHIN A VIRTUAL DISK
  • 4. For additional information, please visit www.datacore.com or email info@datacore.com © 2012 DataCore Software Corporation. All Rights Reserved. DataCore, the DataCore logo and SANsymphony are trademarks or registered trademarks of DataCore Software Corporation. All other products, services and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. About DataCore Software DataCore Software develops the storage virtualization software needed to get the highest availability, fastest performance and maximum utilization from storage resources in physical and virtual IT environments. It provides the critical 3rd dimension on which the success of server and desktop virtualization projects hinge, regardless of the models and brands of storage devices used. 0612 Common Use Cases – From General Purpose toVirtualized IT Server and desktop virtualization (VDI) initiatives have spurred the urgency to automate storage tiering, largely because the blend in workloads is so pronounced that siloed practices for optimizing disk allocation simply break down. In years past, when a server was dedicated to an application, one could reasonably model and predict the best mix of storage to meet the response needs. You could make intelligent and semi- permanent decisions as to which workloads deserved the pricier disk technology.Try that with 1200 virtual machines sharing a multi-tiered SAN.You see the difficulty. Having said that, DataCore customers can take advantage of auto-tiering across the myriad of diverse data center scenarios, whether fully virtualized IT environments, private or public clouds and more conventional physical configurations. Again, it’s important to recognize that SANsymphony-V automates tiering across not just different disk technologies, but across different, often incompatible models of storage devices regardless of manufacturer. No Special Hardware Required DataCore implements auto-tiering software outside the storage systems, rather than confining it to any one of them. It requires no special hardware.The latest SSD technology may sit side-by-side with your legacy hard disk drives. SANsymphony-V simply takes over the control with equal ease. Can’t do without it Now that storage represents the largest single cost in the IT infrastructure and the most critical element in the overall performance of virtual environments, intelligently managing how disk space gets allocated becomes paramount.The automated storage tiering feature built into DataCore SANsymphony-V, along with the entire suite of device-independent storage virtualization services helps you maximize the utilization, performance and availability of those precious assets. Tier 3 BELOW average moves DOWN a tier ABOVE average moves UP a tier Tier 2 Tier 1 Chunks AUTO TIERING – HOW IT WORKS Monitor I/O behavior for groups of disk blocks (chunks) Compare access frequency against average for each tier Promote or demote chunks to most suitable tier