When your existing storage approaches the end of its affordable life, you probably wonder if there might be a better way to get the job done. It would be great if you could spend a lot less on storage capacity and not have to do so much planning for your RAID groups, semi-wide stripes, service levels, snapshots and remote copy space. It would be even better if you could avoid the same surprising and painful hidden professional services fees that make storage seem more like a luxury item than an infrastructure technology. Best yet, how would it feel to actually decrease your storage footprint during your next technology refresh, as opposed to watching it grow larger than you care to think about. Think you'll get those kinds of options from the Ever Mounting Costs company?
Like most I/O performance demonstrations, the video below is a bit reminiscent of watching paint dry, but if you understand what's going on, its pretty cool. 3PAR's Thin Conversion is a block data transfer function where empty blocks coming into a thin volume on a 3PAR InServ array are identified as such and not written to the receiving thinly provisioned volume space. The result is a significantly faster data transfer and an efficient, thin volume with high storage utilization when the transfer completes.
In this video, block data from a thick (or fat) source volume is being migrated to a new thin target volume using 3PAR's Thin Conversion technology. The demo shows reads from the source in red and writes to the target in blue so you can see the impact of 3PAR's hardware-based zero detection technology. During the demo, zero-detection is turned off and writes spike to a much higher level and then it is turned on again to show writes returning to zero.
Because Thin Conversion only writes actual data on the target and does not copy empty space, it's insanely fast and because it's implemented in hardware, there isn't any performance degradation in the controller. Also notice that the amount of storage needed on the target volume will be much less than on the source volume and storage utilization for the array will be much higher.
Thin Conversion is a great way to pare storage costs when you are considering a technology refresh. Instead of buying more new storage than you want and increasing the storage footprint in your data center, you can buy less storage, reducing your storage footprint. Thin Conversion works with both T-Class (Enterprise) and F-Class (Mid range) arrays from 3PAR and is independent of the types of drives in the system. Check it out, you might surprise yourself at how little you actually need to spend.