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EMC Delivers On FAST 1.0 - Call Me When v2 Is Ready

This week EMC made a big splash, announcing that they're actually delivering the first version of the FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering). Now owners of the latest EMC kit can automatically migrate LUNs from one tier of storage to another. While that's a lot better than rocks for Christmas, it's really just a down payment on the best present ever. EMC is promising more later, and I don't even think they're keeping track of who's naughty or nice.

Of course the announcement was accompanied by the EMC bloggers all describing how wonderful the future would be when there was FAST moving data through thin volumes to deduped/compressed stores and off to federated cloud storage just like slides 11&12 on the PowerPoint deck. That was followed by press releases and blog entries from the competitors explaining how they've been doing something almost as good, or in Compellent's case, better, for years

We all know that placing the busiest 2-5 percent of our data on SSDs would let us put most of the rest on capacity oriented SATA or SAS drives. That would save even bigger bucks than we spent on the SSDs and boost application performance. The problem is we don't know which 2 percent of our data makes up our hotspots. FAST can automatically identify the LUNs in a subsystem that are being hit the hardest and move them up to a faster, probably flash based, storage tier, and that's a good start.  

Users will have to make some changes to their data management processes to get the most of FAST. First, the storage admins have to work with their DBAs and application admins to tease as much of the cold data to different volumes than the cold data. Since the first version of FAST doesn't support thinly provisioned volumes, they'll also have to stop using standard size LUNs and overprovisioning. If each of three 50GB tablespaces are allocated 250GB LUNs because 250GB is the standard LUN size for Oracle, only one will fit in 300GB of flash, but if each is allocated 75GB, they'll all fit. Of course tighter allocation means more monitoring and expanding LUNs.

On Celerra NAS systems FAST migrates individual files between tiers rather than LUNs so users like architects and other creative types that work with files will get the performance boost of having the files they're working on this week on a fast tier without the data management overhead. This could be another good reason to use NAS as to host VMware images especially if virtual server admins segregate their data onto multiple logical drives and .VMDK files.

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