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Issue of December 2004 

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Taking grids ahead with smart cells

Industry visionaries who promoted the concept of separate server and storage grids generally overlooked the fact that storage networks are enabled by storage servers. Although storage servers are commonly referred to as storage controllers by storage vendors, they actually are 'single-purpose servers' specialized for serving storage to other networks.

HP has introduced a new technology it calls the 'Smart Cell' technology to help build what it claims will be an intelligent and scalable system for grid storage. This technology aims to make storage products designed specifically for storage grid networks, so that enterprises do not have to use the 'single-purpose severs' it used previously.

Smart Cells aim to serve as building block modules of a storage grid. Each cell is equipped with its own processor, memory, and storage media. Smart Cell controllers run common software to form a unified grid system and extra services that define the cell's specific operational capabilities, or personalities in the network.

Smart Cells are joined into domains, which are essentially collections of cells dedicated to a purpose within the grid. When new Smart Cells are added to the grid, they are automatically detected and incorporated into the appropriate domain. Policy-based management allows the domains to be provisioned automatically and dynamically to satisfy applications and other requirements.

HP currently ships two solutions, RISS and SFS, based on the StorageWorks Grid architecture.

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