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5 minute readIs Your Storage Array Ever Really Full?

How do you know when your storage array is really full?

Check out our new video featuring a conversation between Reliant Technology’s CEO, Reid, and one of our storage engineers, Michael with tips and tricks about how to tell when your storage array is really full, or whether you can make a few simple changes to increase your capacity.

Why "storage limits" might actually be different to what you think

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Video Transcript:

Reid: I have a tray of drives on my lap. This weighs about forty pounds, something like that. If you guys know about storage, you’ve seen these trays before. This is a small form factor tray for an EMC VNX, I believe.

Michael: Correct. Yeah.

Reid: Let’s just pretend for a second, Michael, you’re the IT director.

Michael: I see you in the break room with this tray in your lap.

Reid: Michael, we ran out of storage! Our storage array is full. Let’s just pretend you’ve been managing storage for a long time. You’ve been recently promoted to the storage array, and I’m a neophyte. I’ve come to you. What would you want to clarify? I hear a lot of customers say sometimes, “My storage array is full.” With a few more questions, we find out it’s not full at all. What would you want to clarify? I have a few things in my mind. This thing is heavy.

Michael: I think we want to understand the architecture of the system itself. When we say ‘full’, what’s full? Is there unused space that’s unallocated, and everything you have provisioned is full? A little more detail. Do we have the opportunity to add more of these?

Reid: That’s a great point. This is a tray. I’ve run into a few times. This is an EMC VNX tray. I know that, I don’t know the number of trays a VNX5300 can hold. Do you know off the top of your head? It’s probably 15 or something like that, I would guess. I don’t know. Don’t quote me on that.

Michael: Which model?

Reid: A VNX5300.

Michael: VNX5300? I think we can hold an additional seven.

Reid: Seven trays?

Michael: Yeah.

Reid: Let’s just say it’s seven trays. If we’re wrong, please correct us. That would be great.

Michael: Again, it’s going to depend. You have a finite number of drives that it will recognize. For instance, we have the traditional 15 drives. Then we go to the higher-density 25-drive trays. There’s your differential.

Reid: That’s a good point. You have different types of trays now. They have a full form factor. Some are small form factor. You might say, I can only accept seven of these trays, or I can accept nine or ten of these other trays.

Michael: Right. The number’s a little off, but the concept’s exactly right. Maybe within my cabinet, I can’t put 3U. I can’t go another 3U. There’s my opportunity for a small form factor unit.

Reid: Let’s talk about it a second. “I’m full.” That can mean, I’ve got a cabinet, but I don’t have any more space to add more trays in the physical rack.

Michael: Possible. That’s correct.

Reid: Another one could be, “I’m full”, which means I’ve added two trays to this controller, and I have no more space. That is true, but you can add more of these, called trays, depending on the system.

Michael: Exactly.

Reid: “I’m full.” That can mean I’ve allocated all the storage, and there’s no more storage to allocate. Can you find yourself in a situation sometimes where you’ve allocated it, but it’s not being used, and you’re full?

Michael: Oh, certainly.

Reid: Walk me through a scenario like that.

Michael: Actually, some people do that. They’ll actually provision ahead of time to try to build up a buffer within the system that they can pull from when they’re really full.

Reid: That’s a little trick.

Michael: Yeah, that’s a little trick.

Reid: Okay. Just know the next time someone comes to you and they say their storage array is full, you might want to talk to an expert and figure out if it’s really full, because there might be some options you can do. One little trick you can do, which you probably know about, is called a disk swap. If you’ve got a storage array and you’ve got smaller drives in it and it is maxed out, let’s say it does have these seven trays attached to it.

Michael: Sure, 300s to 600s.

Reid: You could swap out the 300GB drives, and put in 600GB drives. We’ve got all the migration techniques to make that as non-disruptive as possible.

Michael: Exactly.

Reid: There’s a lot of different ways to fill up a storage array and add more capacity. Hopefully, this will help save a little money next time you’re trying to figure out what to do.

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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

Reliant Technology Cares

Reliant Technology Cares

When you have Reliant Technology support your data center, you help us support SERV International and provide thousands of meals for starving children.

About Reliant Technology

As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.

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