I am pleased to offer you the Q1, 2010 edition of the PTS Quarterly Newsletter, a means for our clients, our partners, and our vendors to get the latest information on what’s new and current at PTS, as well as the data center industry in general.

In this quarter’s issue, we tackle a major topic of conversation for many Data Center Managers — What can be done to improve utilization of storage resources and increase data availability? Storage continues to increase its footprint in the data center while many companies have consolidated their server footprint through virtualization. For many data centers the storage footprint continues to grow exponentially.  What technologies are available and should be considered in making quality decisions around a storage strategy?

The topic of researching current and future requirements for storage within your data center, assessing the current state of your storage infrastructure and designing a solution capable of supporting the organization for years to come is the focus of our latest PTS Data Center Solutions Showcase.
In addition to the latest on storage management, the Newsletter also showcases a revolutionary new locking RJ45 Boot and Locking Clip for Fiber Optic LC, the Net-Lock, and provides summaries of several recent and upcoming events as well as the latest public PTS news.

Please make sure to visit our updated website (PTS Home Page) to learn more about new PTS IT services and solutions related to our previously announced IT Services Group (ITSG). You can also download a new white paper called The Infrastructure Management Elephant which discusses the latest trends in Data Center Maintenance Management.

As always, please think of us for your next data center project — whether it is infrastructure, facility or IT related.

Pete Sacco
President & Founder
PTS Data Center Solutions, Inc
Experts For Your Always Available Data Center

Considerations for Storage Consolidation defines Storage Consolidation as “the method of centralizing data storage among multiple servers. The objective is to facilitate data backup and archiving for all subscribers in an enterprise, while minimizing the time required to access and store data.”

The growth of company files, e-mail, databases, and application data drives a constant need for more storage. But with many networks architected with storage directly attached to servers, growth means burdensome storage management and decreased asset utilization. Storage resources remain trapped behind individual servers, impeding data availability.

Given this scenario, customers inevitably experience storage infrastructures that are difficult to manage, ineffective at scaling, costly, and most importantly, do not keep pace with the growing quality of service (QoS) requirements posed by application servers. QoS requirements for servers include capacity, performance, and availability.

Storage Area Networks (SANs) enable enterprise storage consolidation by providing high-speed connectivity between heterogeneous servers and a storage subsystem. SAN connectivity allows many servers to share capacity residing on a single storage subsystem.

Other desirable features include simplification of the storage infrastructure, centralized and efficient management, optimized resource utilization, and low operating cost.

There are three storage consolidation architectures in common use today: direct-attached storage (DAS), network-attached storage (NAS), and the storage area network (SAN). DAS structures are traditional in which storage is tied directly to a server and only accessible at that server. In NAS, the hard drive that stores the data has its own network address. Files can be stored and retrieved rapidly because they do not compete with other computers for processor resources. The SAN is the most sophisticated architecture, and usually employs Fibre Channel technology. SANs are noted for high throughput and ability to provide centralized storage for numerous subscribers over a large geographic area. SANs support data sharing and data migration among servers.

So how do you choose between NAS, RAID and SAN architectures for Storage Consolidation? Once a particular approach has been decided how do you decide which vendor solutions to consider?  There are a number of factors involved in making a qualified decision including near and long term requirements, type of environment, data structures, budget, to name a few. PTS approaches Storage Consolidation by leveraging our proven consulting approach:
To gather information on client needs, survey the current storage approach, and assess future requirements against their needs and the current approach. Critical areas for review and analysis include:

  • Ease of current data storage management
  • Time spent modifying disk space size at the server level
  • Storage capacity requirements to meet long term needs
  • Recoverability expectations in terms of Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives
  • Needed structuring of near- and off-line storage for survivability and ease of access to data
  • Security needed to maintain data storage integrity
  • Evolving storage complexity if current architecture is maintained
  • New applications considered for deployment
  • Requirement to provide Windows clustering
  • Interest in considering Thin Provisioning
  • Storage spending as a percentage of total IT budget

PTS reviews all of the items above, and more — we then design the best storage architecture for both near and long term requirements and are able to source, install and manage leading edge storage solutions from companies such as Dell and Hitachi.

Ultimately, Storage Consolidation positively impacts costs associated with managing your IT network in terms of redundancy, disaster recovery, and network management. It also allows for a more secure network, free from wasted assets tied to particular servers or data center components. Finally, the tasks of provisioning, monitoring, reporting, and delivering the right storage services levels can be time consuming and complex and storage Consolidation will enhance your ability to manage your organization’s data storage.

The PTS Data Center Solutions Showcase –
Storage Solutions
This quarter PTS provides our readers with two data storage solutions for consideration. The Solutions Showcase includes overviews of the Dell EqualLogic™ Family of iSCSI Storage Area Networks and the Hitachi AMS and USP platforms.

Dell EqualLogic PS Series

Centralize storage and reduce administrative overhead
The EqualLogic iSCSI SAN’s unique peer storage architecture consolidates all storage resources into an easy-to-manage tiered pool of storage, securely accessed by servers across a standard Ethernet network. The PS Group Manager provides a single, intuitive administrative interface, accessible from anywhere on the network.

Simplify IT operations and reduce total IT expenditures
The all-inclusive feature set makes advanced virtualizaiton and data protection features available to enterprises of all sizes, without breaking the bank. Automatic system expansion, data protection, and tiering functions minimize administrative tasks even as storage needs grow over time.

Expand storage capacity, performance, and network bandwidth without downtime
Bringing additional storage online is truly seamless; additional disk and controller resources are automatically brought online without disrupting applications accessing the storage pool. Performance scales linearly as workloads are automatically load balanced, spreading data across all active disks, arrays, and interface ports. In addition, built-in thin-provisioning functionality improves flexibility and scalability, reducing administrative costs and making the “pay-as-you-grow” strategy seamless for applications.

Increase availability and protect critical data sets
EqualLogic PS Series arrays are built for enterprise deployments, providing 99.999% availability through a fully-redundant, hot-pluggable system architecture that minimizes administrative tasks even as storage needs grow over time. Volumes are RAID-protected, and through advanced system and disk monitoring, faults can be quickly recognized and addressed without downtime. Low overhead snapshots and remote replication enable you to simply create a virtually unlimited number of space-efficient point-in-time copies at primary and remote sites for quick recovery from disk or backup to tape.

Consolidate storage assets across multiple OS environments
Dell’s EqualLogic PS Series supports initiators across all major operating systems. Gigabit Ethernet NICs and HBAs provide high performance, multi-path access to centralized storage assets. Boot-from-SAN and virtualized desktop capabilities allow system disks to be totally removed from distributed server and desktop assets.

Learn More…

Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage (AMS) 2000 Family

Hitachi provides two families of storage including the AMS and the Universal Storage Platform (USP).  Today we showcase the AMS 2000 Family of storage solutons which provides a services oriented storage solution that matches application and business requirements to storage attributes. The Adaptable Modular Storage 2000 family is a flexible storage platform designed to help organizations achieve key business benefits, such as meeting service level agreements (SLAs), attaining cost effective performance and ensuring nondisruptive operations, while realizing better administrative efficiencies and investment protection.

Systems include:

·         Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 2100

·         Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 2300

·         Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 2500

All three models are well suited to serve as: inexpensive lower tier data storage that does not compromise the highest levels of reliability and centralized management; modular storage for disaster recovery, virtual tape or tape displacement solutions; and remote office storage or archive solutions.

Reduces System Operating Costs
The AMS architecture has dynamic load balancing and automatic LUN to controller assignments. Meeting SLAs while staying on budget is much easier with the progressive feature set in the AMS 2000 family: SAS architecture, large cache, faster CPUs, cache partitioning to match application workloads and outstanding performance for high IOPS and sustained throughput application requirements.

Tremendous Scalability
Grow storage capabilities as needed. The Hitachi Adaptable Modular Storage 2100, Adaptable Modular Storage 2300 and Adaptable Modular Storage 2500 allow you to cost effectively scale capacity to more than 470TB, connectivity to up to 2048 virtual server ports and performance to more than 900K IOPS. Expand as business grows with data-in-place upgrades to larger models in the Adaptable Modular Storage 2000 family.

Easy to Administer
Improve administrative efficiencies and simplify IT environments. Intuitive management software enables you to spend less time on configuration tasks and allows you to consolidate and centrally manage systems. Helpful documentation and online resources help to improve storage tasks and minimize errors. The Hitachi Dynamic Load Balancing Controller eliminates the requirement of system administrators to set controller ownership for each LUN and to manually manage the LUN assignments to balance the workload.

System and Data Security
Meet regulatory requirements for data protection and retention. Advanced security capabilities include Hitachi Data Retention Utility software with its “write once, read many” (WORM) feature that protects data from overwrites or erasures for long periods of time. System management access sets and limits authorization to make changes in the system and system audit logging records all system changes. Communications between the management software and storage are encrypted.

Dynamic Load Balancing

The AMS family provides active, dynamic load balancing.  During normal operation Input/Output (I/O) can travel down any available path to any front end port using the native host operating system multipathing capabilities. This allows the I/O to be balancing over all available paths without impacting performance.
The system includes an automatic load balancing controller. If the load on the controllers becomes unbalanced it will be automatically balanced without the host having to adjust it’s primary path.

With features traditionally found only in enterprise class storage arrays, the 2000 family can dynamically balance I/O over any path through any front end port on either contoller. All this is done without having to load any proprietary path management software.

Learn More…

The PTS Data Center Solutions Showcase – Net-Lock Locking RJ45 Boots and Locking Clips
At the 2010 BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando, FL, NTW recently introduced the Net-Lock Locking RJ45 Boots and Locking Clips for Fiber Optic LC Connectors. The revolutionary devices prevent inadvertent disconnects are are designed to be compatible with any industry-standard RJ45 Cat5e and Cat6 Modular plugs and offer an optional upgraded key-lock and removal tool for enhanced security. The Net-Lock’s slim-line design is the ideal solution to prevent inadvertent disconnects in high-density applications in mission critical facilities.

PTS’ Andrew Graham states “The Net-Lock RJ45 Boot is simply by far the best design that I have seen. The
Net-Lock’s slim-line designed locking boots can be pre-terminated and field terminated, making it truly theperfect solution to prevent inadvertent disconnects, increasing uptime and avoiding profit losses.”

The picture to the right shows the Net-Lock with the locking tool.  Learn More…

In the News:
Data Center Access Policies

Policies & Best Practices Can Vary By Enterprise But Have Many Common Elements
December 4, 2009 · Vol.31 Issue 28

Peter Sacco, president of PTS Data Center Solutions, also likes to add a form of two-factor authentication to entry points by coupling a card reader (“something you have”) with a PIN pad (“something you know”), which reduces the risks of lost cards. Like Stahl, Sacco recommends using time-stamped video surveillance in conjunction with electronic access logs, but he also suggests adding a sign-in sheet to provide a paper trail.

To Read the Full Article, Please Click Here

Power & Cooling Maintenance
Better Maintenance Now Means Less Downtime & Lower Costs Later
November 20, 2009 · Vol.31 Issue 28

“Performing preventative maintenance will reduce the frequency and duration of unscheduled downtime, therefore increasing the availability of the data center,” says Michael Petrino, vice president of PTS Data Center Solutions. “Regular maintenance will increase the reliability and life span of power and cooling equipment.”

To Read the Full Article, Please Click Here

Server Maintenance Inside & Out
Keep Servers Up & Running With A Few Simple Tasks

November 20, 2009 · Vol.31 Issue 28

When it comes to maintaining equipment, data center admins should take a cue from the Boy Scouts’ motto: Be prepared. This means having a plan and a set schedule and following them. “Create a maintenance schedule and stick to it,” advises Michael Petrino, vice president of PTS Data Center Solutions. Instituting a regular maintenance schedule can also be as simple as creating a spreadsheet listing all areas of maintenance.

To Read the Full Article, Please Click Here

This Old Data Center
Overcome Problems In Aging Facilities –
October 23, 2009 · Vol.31 Issue 26

PTS Data Center Solutions’ Vice President Michael Petrino was quoted in on the issue of managing aging data centers. “Most buildings are one third or one half of the capacity we need,” says Michael Petrino, vice president for PTS Data Center solutions. “We may need 250 pounds per square foot, whereas the floor may be rated for 100 pounds per square foot.” He suggests adding a reinforced under-floor, dispersing the weight to ensure no one area is too heavy, or putting a lower weight limit on the racks so they don’t get overloaded.
To Read the Full Article, Please Click Here



About PTS Data Center Solutions

Founded in 1998, PTS Data Center Solutions is a premier data center design firm and turnkey solutions provider, offering a broad range of project experience, specializing in designing data centers, computer rooms and technical spaces that integrate “best-of-breed”, critical infrastructure technologies and result in continuously available, scalable, redundant, fault-tolerant, manageable, and maintainable mission critical environments.