Briefing Note: The Ultra48 AssuredSAN, Dot Hill’s new High-Density Hybrid Array

Long-time storage systems OEM, Dot Hill, recently announced the Ultra48 AssuredSAN, a high-density, 48-drive, hybrid disk array that runs their RealStor 2.0 software. The Ultra48 is designed with three drawers of 16 x 2.5” drives that can be configured in any combination of hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) – even all flash if desired – for a maximum capacity of just over 57TB per chassis. The system can also accommodate up to 192 drives by adding three expansion chassis.

The Ultra48 models provide scalable performance of up to 6400 MB/s and 100,000 IOPS from disk. They feature dual hot-swap controllers that can support four hosts each via 12Gb SAS, 8Gb and 16Gb FC and 10Gb iSCSI connections. Each chassis has redundant, hot-swap fans, power supplies and a spare drive, as well as automatic failover and multi-path support.

RealStor 2.0

RealStor 2.0 is the latest generation of storage virtualization software for Dot Hill’s AssuredSAN 4004 Models of block storage disk arrays. RealStor 2.0 provides a suite of storage services that improves storage performance, increases efficiency, simplifies management and enables the Dot Hill Ultra Series with 4004 controllers to be configured as a hybrid storage arrays. AssuredSAN 4004 supports any combination of flash or hard drives, allowing systems to be configured to match specific workload demands.

RealTier is an autonomic real-time tiering software that doesn’t batch-migrate data, but instead, processes data for movement every five seconds. It minimizes impact on the system by throttling the amount of data moved during the tiering process to 80MB every second. RealTier also leverages four types of flash optimization: SSD read caching (called RealCache), SSD tiering, HDD tiering and LUN pinning for data that has to stay on flash. The system can also write directly to the HDD layer if that’s more efficient than going through the SSD layer, for applications such as video streaming.

RealSnap is a redirect-on-write process, similar to the snapshot technology first developed by NetApp. It’s much more efficient that traditional copy-on-write technologies, resulting in lower capacity and CPU utilization. RealThin is a thin provisioning feature that has no capacity license, supporting as many drives as can be attached to the array. Finally, RealQuick is a feature that’s designed to address the potential problems with rebuilding large-drive RAID sets by keeping track of the active data and only rebuilding those blocks, not the entire RAID set. This produces 2-5x faster rebuilds compared with traditional methods, according to Dot Hill.

StorageSwiss Take

As StorageSwiss readers know from our other write-ups, Dot Hill is a storage manufacturer that built their business as the OEM for some well-known server vendors, most notably Sun/Oracle. Their focus has always been to deliver cost-effective storage systems with enterprise-class feature sets. The Ultra48 seems to continue this strategy by taking their AssuredSAN 4004 controller and pairing it with a high-density drive design and running RealStor 2.0, the next generation of their storage array software.

The RealStor 2.0 software delivers the features that most companies expect from an enterprise array. But with the ability to mix and match HDDs and SSDs in any combination, Dot Hill now adds hybrid and all-flash configurations to their line card. The Ultra48 is a feature-rich array that’s priced for companies that don’t routinely buy three-letter storage – or for those that do but are ready to save some money.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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