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Data management needs drive the shift to 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform.

Today's IT managers face many challenges with data center management--at the top of the list is the need to consolidate their stored data. The data itself is often overlooked, but it is in fact the lifeblood of business today. The volume of data moving through networks has exploded and IT managers are tasked with managing the increased amounts of information that have to be stored and served at continuously higher speeds to an ever-increasing number of clients. To further add to the tasks, IT managers must also seek new ways to manage this while using less hardware, working in smaller spaces, and lowering operating expenses to focus on the overall reduction of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of their data centers.

In fact, the numbers showing the demands for storage are staggering. According to a University of California-Berkeley study through the School of Information Management and Systems, over 1.5 million terabytes of information are produced and stored worldwide each year, with an expected annual growth rate of 55%.

The need for storage consolidation was also validated by a recent Gartner Research survey that showed that IT professionals were clearly aware and concerned about this need. No fewer than 94% of respondents stated that they were considering or trying to consolidate their storage.


Recognizing these requirements, the enterprise storage industry has been working together toward shifting from the standard 3.5-inch disc drive platform to a new 2.5-inch standard. Seagate Technology is leading the charge with 2.5-inch disc drives, while other leading manufactures such as Hewlett-Packard and Intel are each developing the appropriate hardware to accommodate this change. The overall benefit is clear, as the companies recognize that the migration toward "denser" storage will result in better space utilization in data centers as well as providing performance optimization.

A large number of applications exist that require high IOPS (input/output per second) such as Internet transactional (OLTP) servers, decision support servers (data query and mining). Application servers (ERP, CRM, SCM, EAI middleware), database and file servers, real-time video editing, and production servers. For lower-performance requirements, the fact that more users will be accessing fewer servers and arrays means a higher IOPS requirement for those left standing. For IT managers, storage consolidation through the 2.5-inch platform is the ideal solution to satisfy a range of client needs.

Storage Consolidation: Easier Manageability, Improved Performance, Lower TCO

Through centralization and server reduction, IT managers gain the benefit of having improved performance, an optimized system, and maximizing the availability of applications and data while lowering TCO. Storage consolidation also reduces the cost and complexity of large installations by placing data on centralized, highly available storage systems. The 2.5-inch enterprise platform will help enable this move further.

Manageability of a consolidated system can also be greatly increased and provide better security and control. Fewer servers running in fewer locations increase the ability to control those servers and make the hardware easier to manage and track. With an infrastructure that is streamlined and optimized, reliability is increased and downtime can be reduced or avoided. Further, with fewer assets to manage, an IT staff can focus on other strategic business objectives.

"In a consolidated IT environment, our customers need to provide more I/Os in the same rack space while being able to scale to higher I/Os and capacity to meet future growth requirements without increasing their data center space," said Jeff Jenkins, acting vice president. Server Storage and Infrastructure, HP Industry Standard Servers. "The density-optimized HP ProLiant DL server line and the direct-attached storage systems can be optimized with 2.5-inch enterprise-class disc drives using future interfaces such as Serial-Attached SCSI to enable our customers to receive performance enhancements without the expense of adding more racks or data center floor space. HP is pleased to be working with Seagate to drive this new platform forward for our customers."

As the 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform moves ahead to free-up valuable enterprise system real estate and provide better manageability, businesses will experience lower TCO that translates to increased profits, improved customer satisfaction, and faster business growth. As you think about it, how can the size of the disc drive contribute to improved system-level functionality?

Drive Size Really Matters

At the heart of a system is a disc drive. As drive size transitions from 3.5-inch to 2.5-inch, significant changes occur:

* Smaller Form Factor 2.5-inch drives consume significantly less power than 3.5-inch drives, translating into lower operating temperatures and case in cooling

* Small Form Factor 2.5-inch drives displace 70% less volume than traditional 3.5-inch enterprise class drives allowing better airflow and integration of higher numbers of drives into smaller footprint systems

* Small Form Factor 2.5-inch drives are more rugged durable than a typical enterprise class drive, translating into even better integration / installation success

* Small Form Factor 2.5-inch drives offer the highest reliability. The most reliable 2.5-inch drive solution ever created

* Small Form Factor 2.5-inch drives enable creation of smaller footprint systems that displace 33% to 200% less data center space

* Small Form Factor 2.5-inch drives are absolutely the quietest enterprise drive created, perfectly suited for high performance workstations, creating a unique desktop solution. Once the 2.5-inch technology is productized. Seagate's new Small Form Factor 2.5-inch drive will be offered in a variety of interfaces: Ultra320 SCSI. 2Gbit/sec Fibre Channel and the newest Enterprise interface--Serial-Attached SCSI, or SAS.


"We've seen a substantial increase in the number of corporations looking to consolidate their file servers onto Microsoft Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS) because of the high reliability, scalability and availability features it provides," said Claude Lorenson, product manager with the Enterprise Storage Division at Microsoft. "Microsoft supports the development of technologies that improve storage consolidation in hardware as they lower TCO for customers using Windows Powered NAS for replication, management and restoration of mission-critical data."

2.5-inch Enterprise: A New Range of Solutions

With the shift to the 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform comes the unique ability to enable a new era of rack and blade server products. New IU servers will be able to deliver RAID-5 for the best combination of data protection and performance. Blade servers will shift into becoming truly enterprise-class, with enterprise-class high reliability and performance. Storage arrays will become even faster by bundling a high number of drives into smaller footprints.

The changes in blade can be truly labeled as being revolutionary, with performance increases of 150% and reliability that is significantly greater than what today's blade systems provide. For the first time, the 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform will enable full 24X7 enterprise performance under full duty cycles and enterprise temperature specifications. As blade performance and reliability moves to enterprise levels, adoption of blade servers is expected to grow rapidly. IDC estimates that 20% of server shipments will go out in blade form factors in 2006; but with the rise of the 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform, the figure may be even larger than anticipated.

A 1U-sized server that provides mission-critical performance and protection is unavailable today. Today's RAID-5 rack systems are only available in sizes beginning at 2U. However, tomorrow's systems are being created that will deliver true RAID-5 (full mirroring) in a 1U size that uses half the space of 2U systems. Comparing the new 1U server to its 2U predecessor, the new 1U rack systems will use 40% less power while delivering 50+% more IOPS per U of rack space as well as allow better airflow within the server. The reduction in power and increase in drive efficiency will also help to enable the shift in focus from the drive to the needed power and cooling for tomorrow's fastest CPUs.

"The advantage of using 2.5-inch enterprise class drives is clear: smaller drives draw less power and are easier to cool for rack dense highly reliable server and storage solutions," said Ned Thanhouser, marketing director, Intel Enterprise Products and Services Division. "The use of these drives will help allow the use of Intel's most advanced and powerful processors to deliver new levels of I/O performance in the smallest system footprint possible."

Today's storage arrays have been moderate performance storage solutions. Ordinarily, 14 drives are placed in a 3U storage array or JBOD (just a bunch of discs) enclosure. The 14 slots have used either 10K or 15K drives. With the advent of a smaller, high-performance drive, approximately 30 drives can be bundled together in a 2U enclosure creating the fastest, highest performance storage arrays. The new 2U system will outperform today's common 3U rack storage array by nearly 140% on an IOPS-per-U basis.

Lowering the System TCO

By deploying these new high-performance and high-reliability systems, IT managers will gain the benefits of storage consolidation and an overall reduction in the TCO of their systems. With the 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform, the marriage between the reduction of the physical footprint size of the system, and the ability to deliver increased levels of performance to clients, can be made. For the IT manager, the storage needs will be met, while the new platform also helps ensure that additional future storage scaling can be easily accomplished.

What will tomorrow's 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive platform bring? Information that will be stored into new devices and applications, running at speeds the world has yet to see in an IOPS-per-U class configuration. Tomorrow's 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive is the key enabler to drive a new meaning toward cost-effective storage consolidation done with no compromises. For the future of tomorrow's 2.5-inch enterprise disc drive, the future looks very bright.
Storage Arrays
Highest Performance

-- 200% space savings
-- Up to 130% faster than 15K

1U Servers

-- RAID 5
-- HighestIOPS-per-U

Blade Servers
ES Class Reliability

-- Best Reliability and Performance

Figure 2

Brian Kraus is senior enterprise product marketing manager, and David Szabados is senior public relations manager at Seagate (Scotts Valley. CA)
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Title Annotation:Storage Management
Author:Szabados, David
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
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