EMC FAST Suite Version 2 – Available Now

I blogged earlier about designing with storage pools vs traditional raid groups.  I’m sure you were all overly excited to read about that – both of you.  Well one of the biggest benefits of using storage pools is now finally available from EMC.  I’m talking about the latest release of the FAST from EMC.  This is really two products, FAST Sublun Tiering and FAST Cache.  With FAST Sublun Tiering you can now create storage pools with EFD, FC and SATA drives and let the array do all the work in regards to deciding which data needs to run on which tier of drives.  If you have part of a database that constantly blasts 2500 I/O all day long, no problem, it gets moved on to the EFD tier.  Got some freaky adult entertainment type files that the creepy guy two cubes down from keeps on his home drive for ole time sake – yep that will be hanging out on SATA (after several virus scans I hope).  For most environments this approach really makes sense and really makes life easier.  Let’s face it, you probably have no idea what the I/O graph on most of your luns look like on a day to day basis.  Automation is your friend!  One thing to remember if you are considering purchasing an new EMC array – It is much easier to implement FAST Sublun tiering from the start instead of after you have the array in place.  Existing raid groups have to be migrated to storage pools before sublun tiering can be used.  So if you don’t have available drives to move things around the process could be more expensive or impossible.

Probably even more of a game changer than sublun tiering is the release of FAST Cache.  With FAST Cache you can now add gobbs of EFD based frontend cache to your storage array – up to 2TB depending on the array.  Now before you get too excited about 2TB of cache remember someone has to pay for that much EFD space and it ain’t cheap.  Not to mention that that capability only exists on a CX4-960 which alone cost more than most of our houses.  Even so, adding as little as 73GB of EFD cache can really improve the performance across ALL of your luns.  Even better yet you can select which luns selectively take advantage of this feature with a simple check box.  On smaller arrays like the CX4-120 this feature certainly gives you the most bang for your buck and is really pretty inexpensive.  Here is a chart that shows the minimum and maximum FAST cache configuration for EMC arrays:

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