Let’s face it, if you are a mid-range or even a high-end enterprise looking for a data storage solution, you have a lot of choices today. In fact, a lot of the mid-range storage offerings have gotten so good, offering a veritable cornucopia of features at a lower price of entry than much larger systems, that it’s often hard for customers to determine which type of system to go with. So how do you choose?
For Greg Schulz, founder of and senior analyst at StorageIO, it ultimately comes down to scalability, or as he puts it, “scaling with stability.” What does Schulz mean by scaling with stability? To answer a question with more questions, it means if you add more drives, will the system break? If you add more users, more workload, is it — or when is it — going to break? When you grow your system, is it going to become any less available? Is there a single point of failure? Is it going to become harder to manage? Is it going to become more complex?
These are just some of the questions Schulz says customers need to ask themselves when considering a storage solution — and, according to Schulz, Fujitsu’s Eternus Storage Systems has the right answers.
Storage That Really Scales
Of course, almost every storage salesperson (if not all of them) in the enterprise space will tell you their products scale, but do they — while still providing the same level of performance, availability, functionality and reliability they did when they had less work to do? That’s not a question that can be answered by looking at a PowerPoint presentation or attending a demo, said Schulz. It comes from being tested in a real-world setting. And according to Schulz (and folks at Gartner and the Enterprise Strategy Group), Fujitsu Computer Systems’ SAN-attached Eternus8000 Storage Systems (as well as its midrange Eternus4000 line, within its limits) pass the test.
“Fujitsu is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the industry when it comes to storage,” said Schulz, who referred to Fujitsu Computer Systems, Fujitsu’s North American arm, as “the quiet company,” though that is starting to change.
Until pretty recently, people mainly associated the Fujitsu brand with consumer electronics or disk drives, not with open system, high-end storage, though in actuality, “Fujitsu Computer Systems is the former Amdahl, a name people in the data center may know or remember,” explained Schulz. That’s why it often comes as a pleasant surprise to enterprises that “Fujitsu has a high-end storage system that goes toe-to-toe with EMC’s largest storage product.”
In fact, if you compare the two systems side by side, he argued, you’d find that the Eternus8000 is just as reliably scalable as the EMC Symmetrix DMX, with rival performance.
Taking On the Big Boys
The Eternus8000 already has many “features that a lot of vendors are talking about adding, or that a lot of startups make noise about — that they’re the first and the only one in the industry to have it,” said Schulz. For example, the Eternus8000 includes MAID (massive array of idle disks), which allows customers to spin drives down when they’re not being used or being used infrequently, which provides significant power and cost savings. The Eternus line also has top-notch data security encryption. And then there’s its performance.
“We’ve got stellar performance,” stated Jim DeCaires, storage product marketing manager for the Eternus line and Fujitsu Computer Systems, who may be a little biased. But you don’t have to take his word for it. “Go to the Storage Performance Council,” he said. “All of our storage performance numbers are posted there.” And what the numbers show is that Eternus is fast, and more than holds its own against “the big guys, [like] EMC and HDS, [which did not] publish until recently,” said DeCaires (see Vendors face Off in Benchmark Dispute).
Getting back to the issue of scalability, the Eternus8000, which has a modular architecture, can scale to just over 2 PB of storage capacity (and a cache capacity of 256 GB), yet it can start out pretty small, “with two controllers, like it’s a mid-range storage system,” explained DeCaires. “But you can scale that out to multiple controllers, giving you the ability to scale your front end as you need and your back end as you need.”
Other features of the Eternus8000 include Fibre Channel switches (for higher I/O transaction performance, shorter data transmission delays and improved reliability), RAID 6 (for data continuity in the event of two simultaneous disk drive failures), high-speed backup (with Nearline SATA drives), data encryption within the storage system (which DeCaires said is unique to Eternus), SMI-S compliance (so Eternus can play nicely with other heterogeneous storage systems), replication over distance, aka Remote Advanced Copy (another unique feature, according to DeCaires, which supports both Fibre Channel interfaces and iSCSI), and reliable, easy-to-use storage management software. And if by chance something goes wrong with the system, the Eternus8000 comes with 24/7 telephone and onsite support.
Fujitsu Computer Systems also offers enterprise customers a heterogeneous storage virtualization solution, the Eternus VS900, which utilizes split-path virtualization and is targeted at the enterprise-class customer who has large storage pools and wants to consolidate those storage pools or has a highly mobile data environment and has data mobility issues.
All of these things, as well as a competitive price tag, make Fujitsu’s Eternus storage systems strong contenders in the enterprise storage space.