EMC F.A.S.T – Details and Architecture Considerations

If you have or are looking at an EMC Clariion you may have heard about the relatively recent release of F.A.S.T for the Clariion line.  F.A.S.T stands for Fully Automated Storage Tiering which basically means the ability to move data between different tiers of disks (FC, SATA and FLASH).  EMC F.A.S.T is currently in stage 1 which infers that there will be a stage 2……and there will be.  Since stage 2 is an unknown number of months away let’s concentrate on what F.A.S.T stage 1 really gets you.

At the end of the day the idea is to have SATA, FC and EFD’s in your array and then let the array monitor the disk activity and move the data to the most appropriate type of disks.  If you have a part of a database that is cranking out 5000 IOPS it gets sent to the EFD’s while file data like your user’s shopping lists and porn videos will end up on SATA.  What F.A.S.T does is monitor your disk performance using a tool many of you may already have on your arrays, Navisphere Analyzer.  Once the array has a load on it and enough data gathered (usually around 5 days) F.A.S.T can start doing it thing.

You have two choices when it comes to the migration of a LUN, automatic or manual.  Under automatic mode F.A.S.T will identify a LUN that should be moved and do the migration for you.  Under manual mode F.A.S.T will simply make recommendations as to which LUNs should be moved.  You then have a choice to schedule the migration at a later date and time or do it right then.  To summarize the product in a sentence, ”F.A.S.T it automatically analyzes Clariion NAR data for you.”  Could you do all of this manually? Absolutely.  Would you?  That is the question. 

There are a few things to be aware of with F.A.S.T stage 1.

  • Only FC LUNs are analyzed.  If you have LUNs that reside on SATA and EFD’s F.A.S.T will not make recommendations or migrations for you.  This restriction will hopefully be lifted in future versions.
  • Migrations are done on a LUN level (sub-lun level coming soon)
  • F.A.S.T requires an enabler be loaded on the array first
  • A Windows server is required for the F.A.S.T software (can be a virtual machine)
  • If you are adding F.A.S.T to an existing array FLARE 29 is required

From a SAN design perspective adding F.A.S.T doesn’t really create any major challenges.  The biggest challenge may be financial in that you need to make sure that you have enough free space on the various tiers of storage to move your LUN’s around.  That being said the biggest benefit of F.A.S.T may also be financial in that you can maximize the use your storage infrastructure.

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