Many companies today depend on the immediate availability of applications and data for their mission-critical business. Until now, suppliers of high-end storage systems could not fully guarantee 100 percent availability of applications and data. With the announcement of its latest storage platform Primera, HPE finally wants to make this happen.
High-end storage systems within IT infrastructure must deliver applications and data with higher availability. This makes it easier to scale, while performance also increases.
Especially for organisations that see the applications and data as ‘mission-critical’ will benefit from this. If data and applications fail and are downtimed, the services cannot be carried out properly, which of course has the necessary impact. Think of financial service providers who constantly have to process a lot of transactions or train traffic control where a very small disruption has major consequences.
A storage array is the so-called ‘Tier 0’ high-performance storage layer for applications and data. This layer ensures that applications and data are preferably always immediately available and that a lot of interaction can take place with them. Systems for this type of storage focus primarily on reliability. This reliability is achieved by guaranteeing high availability.
100 percent is the ‘holy grail’
On the market, 99.9999 percent availability is claimed. This is very high, but full availability is still not guaranteed. The possible downtime at this moment is -measured in time- still about 31 seconds on an annual basis. Despite this very minimal outage, the consequences often have a major impact. That is why 100 percent availability for mission-critical applications and data is still a kind of ‘holy grail’.
Scoop for HPE Primera
This holy grail now seems to have been found with the launch of HPE’s latest high-end storage portfolio HPE Primera. With this, the supplier claims to be the first storage system in the world with the desired 100 percent availability.
HPE Primera is a new architecture for high-end storage systems. This new architecture is based on two existing storage products of HPE, says Solutions Architect Hybrid IT Remko Westrik of HPE Netherlands. Concretely, it concerns the DNA of HPE 3PAR and simplicity of HPE Nimble. The artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities of HPE InfoSight have also been added to HPE Primera. HPE InfoSight is an enormous database to which many HPE products send log data, anonymised or otherwise. This data is ultimately the source for many machine learning algorithms and AI applications, with which HPE malfunctions and performance optimisations can be predicted.
With this combination of existing solutions and applications, HPE with its new high-end storage platform focuses on Tier 0 and reliability, especially for mission-critical applications and data. This explains the availability of 100 percent.
The existing HPE 3PAR and HPE Nimble portfolios focus mainly on business-critical applications and data or Tier 1 storage. For Tier 1, the focus is on storage efficiency and cost.
When we look more specifically at the HPE Primera hardware, the ‘DNA’ and consolidation capabilities of HPE 3PAR are clearly the basic architecture of the new storage system. The modular architecture includes an active cluster, which ensures that the nodes within the system work together.
The HPE Nimble portfolio mainly provides solutions for simplifying the management of the HPE Primera storage system. Some features are, therefore, ‘hidden’, within the system. This means that the systems are set up on the basis of best practices.
These best practices replace complex management panels where the user can fine-tune and tweak everything. By applying best practices, setting up the system is entirely automatic.
It remains possible to adjust Primera systems where necessary. Customers are not burdened with this. The best practices ensure that they get the most suitable high-end storage system. This makes the entire system more efficient and more cost-effective.
In addition to hardware, there is a specific software component with which HPE Primera wants to distinguish itself from other storage systems. The operating system is completely ‘service-centric’ and set up in ‘user mode’, while other systems are almost always ‘monolithic’ according to HPE. The OS runs like an application on the Linux kernel. As a result, other applications can be started and deactivated independently of each other. If one of the services fails, it can also be easily restarted without affecting the rest of the system.
This is also useful for firmware updates for the modular hardware components of HPE Primera. With the service-centric architecture, only the component to be upgraded gets a firmware update, the rest just keeps running. There is no downtime. With a monolithic architecture, all components must be shut down before an upgrade is possible. As a result, the entire system is unreachable.
Intelligence from HPE InfoSight
For HPE Primera, the addition of AI from HPE InfoSight is a third important distinguishing feature. The intelligence and the predictive and preventive properties of HPE InfoSight make it possible to work even more reliably.
HPE InfoSight detects a certain behaviour of the systems and can use analytics to determine the causes of certain events. The solution sees the same problems with customers with the same configuration. As a result, customers gain faster insight into where the problems are located and can take action based on advice.
Automatic configuration and management
Westrik indicates that HPE ultimately aims for the systems to manage and configure themselves fully automatically; in other words, the autonomous data centre. This is still music to the future. Best practices and advice are already being given, but customers still have to implement or schedule this themselves.
This automation should give customers the confidence that the systems will automatically configure and update themselves, individually tailored to the customer in question, when it suits them. This, of course, in order to relieve them of all their worries and eliminate complexity
The recent announcement, about the high-end storage system now being suitable for the proprietary HPE Synergy and HPE Composable Rack composite infrastructure solutions, also helps to relieve the burden. This combination provides the ability to deliver services on a flexible cloud platform.
Bar set at the very highest level
The high-end storage application HPE Primera is directly available in three models: the 2U24 model HPE Primera 630 with two nodes and the 4U48 models HPE Primera 650 and HPE Primera 670 with both four nodes. The maximum storage capacity is, depending on the number of nodes, 1 or 2 PB per node. The high-end storage system is, of course, also offered in the ‘as-a-service’ model of HPE Greenlake.
By guaranteeing 100% availability, HPE Primera sets the bar at the very highest level. Not only for the various suppliers in the high-end storage segment, but also for themselves.
HPE itself is very convinced that they can deliver what they promise. The company returns 20 percent of the value of the HPE Primera models used to customers in the event of an unexpected failure – i.e. no 100 percent availability.
We are curious to see how HPE’s high-end storage portfolio will ultimately develop further. And, of course, whether HPE will maintain the setting the bar as high.