EMC, HP, Pitch App-Oriented Storage Solutions

Two major storage vendors are pushing application-aware technology aimed at different types of enterprises, but with the same promise of improving management and storage of Oracle application data.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) today announced a StorageWorks All-in-One (AiO) system for Oracle clusters running on Linux aimed at small and medium businesses (SMBs). It integrates network attached storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN) as well as data protection functions within an HP BladeSystem c3000 chassis.

Yesterday EMC (NYSE: EMC) unveiled a Symmetrix DMX-4 storage system featuring enterprise flash drive (EFD), for large organizations looking to improve Oracle database applications performance. EMC said it’s the first storage box to offer EFDs for specific Oracle application environments.

The news comes as companies are overwhelmed with data piles and the need to house information that is falling under greater regulatory scrutiny. Meanwhile, storage vendors are hoping to keep this year’s strong revenue momentum moving forward. IDC research recently reported worldwide disk storage systems grew to $6.9 billion in revenues for the second quarter of this year alone.

While the strategy of application-aware storage isn’t new — many of today’s storage silos were built with the view that different systems demand different storage — pundits view application-specific offerings as improving that traditional approach.

“This is a way to prioritize what has to be stored and customize the storage effort and good stuff in that way,” Mark Peters, analyst, Enterprise Storage Group, told InternetNews.com. “EMC is fencing off the flash for Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and HP’s approach is useful as well as it all enhances the traditional approach,” he said.

Improving on earlier storage approaches

Peters gave a thumbs up to the approach of addressing an enterprise’s specific storage needs. “You’re improving on the old way,” Peters said, though he added it’s not the perfect solution.

That’s because the downside is that some other application is going to have to take a back seat if Oracle data is viewed as most critical in terms of resources.

“The storage system has the smarts to serve what’s needed but the best possible approach would be providing more flexibility to provide that performance to another application if necessary when needed,” said Peters. “A more refined and accurate way to respond to application storage needs would be to provide more flexibility.”

According to HP its new system can enhance storage consolidation which reduces operations costs and complexity.

“SMB customers continue to search for affordable, easy-to-use integrated systems that simplify maintenance and management of their business applications,” Andrew Manners, director of business development at StorageWorks, HP, said in a statement. Users can expand the storage environment by adding BladeSystem c3000 enclosures, ProLiant Servers, external iSCSI devices or additional storage to clustered environments.

The system’s management console lets IT maintain clusters as a single system, which makes it easier and less time consuming for tasks such as scheduling backups and data replication tasks, according to HP

EMC’s system advances the vendor’s solid state flash drive focus initiated earlier this year when it added SSDs to the high-end Symmetrix DMX-4 storage systems. EMC said its new Oracle flash drive technology provides much faster data response than hard disk drives.

“It is ideal for Oracle Database 11g and Oracle RAC 11g application environments that require the fastest retrieval and storing of data,” Barbara Robidoux, vice president of storage product marketing at EMC, stated in a release. For example, Oracle environments can use a single EFD to achieve performance that would have previously required dozens of traditional Fibre Channel drives, according to EMC.

According to EMC enterprise-class flash drives deliver single-millisecond application response times that are up to 10 times faster than traditional 15,000 RPM hard disk drives (HDDs).

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