HP enhances MSAx040 models

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The MSA storage series from HP is an already good storage system. It scales quite good and is very versatile. With it's relatively low costs it's a perfect entry system for smaller SANs and a perfect backend for storage virtualization software like DataCore. With the latest firmware GL200 HP adds new features to the entry level storage systems MSA2040 and MSA1040. These features are:

  • Thin Provisioning
  • SSD Read Cache
  • Automated Tiering (with Performance and Archive Tiering)
  • Snapshot Enhancements
  • Wide Striping

All features are included without additional license costs except part of Automated tiering on the MSA2040 and Wide Striping and Automated tiering on the MSA1040 model.

Let's get a closer look at the new features.

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Reuse old MSA hardware part II

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As a follow up to my recent article about reusing old MSA2000 G1 enclosures direct attached to simply SAS HBAs, here is another cool setup I wasn't aware of until now.

HP is known to make little changes between two generations of the same hardware models so you normally can't reuse the older hardware with the new one. This makes sense for HP because all customers wanting to use the new hardware have to buy complete new systems even if the old hardware is still fully functional.

The MSA/P2000 entry-level storage arrays are some kind of an exception to this. As HP wants to give you a convenient way to upgrade older MSA2000 G1 or G2 models to the newer and stronger P2000 systems, you can attach the older enclosures and harddisks with minimal effort to the new controller. This works and is fully supported even if the older hardware is 3G SAS based whereas the P2000 controller is 6GB SAS based.

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New HP Gen9 servers perfectly suited for SDS

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HP lately announced availability for the new ProLiant Gen9 server series. There are many improvements to the Gen8 series but for me as a storage and virtualization guy Gen9 servers reach a new level of scalability and performance.

First, all Gen9 servers are only equipped with a low end Smart Array B140i. This SATA controller lets you build RAID0,1 and 5 sets for OS booting. Nothing more. As you can't add battery backed cache to this controller, RAID5 should be the last way to go.

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Which SmartArray adapter to use?

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With availability of HP ProLiant Gen8 servers, a new generation of SmartArray controllers are released, too. HP's general purpose PCIe RAID controller family was extended by the P420(internal storage only, as i-model already integrated on the motherboard), the P421 (the same controller but only for external storage like the D2000 enclosures) and the new flagship P822 (both internal and external connectors).

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CIFS performance problem on HP StoreOnce systems

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HPs StoreOnce systems do a great job as a backup repositiory. With integrated dedup and compression you can use these systems as a Virtual Tape Library or as simple NAS target using NFS or CIFS to store backup data. If you use them as CIFS NAS, please be aware of the following problem:

There seems to be a big performance problem on all HP StoreOnce systems even running on latest firmware/software that causes file transfers to these systems via CIFS to be very slow.

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Revitialising old MSA hardware

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Recently a whole bunch of old HP Modular Smart Array (MSA) 2000 Gen1 systems with expansion enclosures returned from a storage on demand project.

The MSA2000 isn't a really fast system, the inbuilt RAID controllers are quite slow compared to todays entry level storage systems like the HP P2000 or FTS Eternus DX80/90 systems so reuse them in other projects simply doesn't make any sense.

A colleague asked for some JBODs to be used with Microsoft Server 2012 and their Storage Spaces. Until now I knew very few about Windows Storage Spaces. He told me about the concept of Storage Spaces and the use of really dumb JBODs behind SAS HBAs without any RAID functionality.

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ProLiant memory leak with Windows Server 2012 nic teaming

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Today I stumbled across a problem affecting all HP ProLiant systems that run Windows Server 2012 and use the MS NIC teaming functionality.

By using the NIC agent v. 9.40 there is a memory leak that could fill up your system's memory by up to 5MB/h. Currently there is no hotfix available from MS, they will resolve this issue in the next version of the NIC agent.

By now the only resolution is to reduce the refresh cycle of the HP SNMP agents via their control panel. This way, the memory leak will get reduced but not completely stopped.

Here is the link to the HP advisory that is related to this problem.


Update: HP's SSD support policy

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Recently I wrote an article about HP's support policy regarding SSDs. Formerly HP only supported some amount of data written a SSD before access was set to read-only and you had to replace the SSD. The replacement was not covered by your support contract you this caused additional costs.

Now, HP specified it's support policy a bit more detailed and distinguishes between SSDs for the ISS (Industry Standard Server), Mainstream (like Desktops) and Enterprise Storage area.

For ISS and desktops, the already know support policy is still valid so every SSD configured into a server or desktop is still not covered by the servers/desktops carepack. This is also valid for direct attached storage like the D2000 systems.

For the Enterprise Storage market (P2000, EVA, P4000, XP, 3PAR etc.) the careback or support contract covers SSDs that reaches their max lifetime. These SSDs will be replaced as long as there is a valid support contract for the system the SSD is installed in. Keep in mind that for some storage systems like EVA or XP you have to pay an additional fee for every single disk/SSD so this is not really a big deal. But for other storage systems like the P2000 or P4000 where the support contract for the enclosure covers all drives installed too this is really helpful.

Now it's a bit more easier to estimate the cost of ownership for those systems.

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