At HPE GreenLake Storage Day, the latest block and file services were unveiled, but the real star of the show was the HPE Alletra MP storage server, a revolutionary universal hardware platform that powers it all. While HPE focused on the benefits of incorporating these services into GreenLake, we couldn’t help but be impressed by the innovative technology driving it forward.
HPE Alletra MP
The HPE Alletra MP platform represents a game-changing addition to HPE’s storage server lineup, offering unparalleled flexibility to handle a wide range of workloads, including those found in GreenLake storage services. With the recent supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, HPE recognized the need to pivot quickly away from dedicated SAN storage hardware, making the Alletra MP server a timely and critical solution.
Although the Alletra MP platform is currently being deployed in GreenLake, HPE has bigger plans for the future, with intentions to incorporate Alletra hardware platforms into their wider storage offerings. Leveraging their ProLiant heritage, the Alletra systems have been optimized to meet the specific demands of storage I/O, making them a perfect fit for HPE’s storage solutions.
Prior to the Alletra MP launch, HPE had already begun rebranding their Apollo storage line to Alletra, as demonstrated by the recent launch of the Alletra 4110 and 4120 platforms earlier this year. The Alletra 4110, for example, is an impressive 1U all-NVMe storage server capable of supporting up to 20 E3.S or SFF NVMe SSDs through a double-stacked backplane.
HPE’s Alletra 4120 vs Alletra MP
HPE’s Alletra 4120 is a powerful 2U hybrid-NVMe storage server designed to support up to 24 LFF drives in the front with an additional 4 LFF, 12 E3.S or 6 SFF drives in the rear, or up to 48 SFF drives in the front with an additional 12 E3.S or 6 SFF drives in the rear. While impressive, these storage servers are single-server, single-node designs with limited scalability.
In contrast, the Alletra MP represents a significant step forward in storage architecture, offering a more SAN-friendly dual-node design with support for up to 24 U.3/U.2 NVMe SSDs. While it would have been exciting to see a dense E3.S platform with the MP, the current ecosystem of SSDs is not yet mature enough to support qualified dual-port drives. However, separating the underlying software for block and file storage from the hardware gives HPE the freedom to tune their hardware platforms specifically for GreenLake and the channel partners that adopt Alletra servers for their own SDS solutions, providing even greater flexibility for the future.
- As we move around to the back of the HPE Alletra MP server, the inner workings of this platform start to become clearer. Positioned on either side of the chassis are the power supplies, providing a reliable source of energy to the server.
- Above the power supply on the left, we can see an additional component, the chassis identification module, which communicates to GreenLake about the server’s specific configuration, whether it’s currently set up for block or file storage.
- At the centre of the server are the dual compute nodes, each powered by a single AMD EPYC processor, providing an impressive amount of processing power to handle even the most demanding workloads.
- The design of the Alletra MP server offers a level of redundancy and reliability that makes it an ideal choice for enterprise storage solutions.
- Zooming in on the Alletra MP motherboard, we can see the fan bank located at the back of the server, effectively cooling the AMD CPU, eight DIMM slots, and M.2 boot drives.
- In conjunction with the fans in the second node, this setup keeps the NVMe SSDs in the front of the unit and the I/O cards on the other side of the fans properly ventilated. With four OCP slots available in each Alletra MP node, HPE has ample choices when it comes to configuring the nodes for I/O, which can range from FibreChannel cards for block storage services to fast Ethernet for file storage.
- In addition to the I/O banks, there’s a dedicated HPE iLO card positioned between them, ensuring out-of-band server management capabilities.
- The Alletra MP chassis also contains a lengthy ID module, which communicates the underlying nodes’ persona and configuration to the HPE GreenLake platform. Although the current ID module reflects either a block or file chassis, it can quickly adapt to HPE’s future innovations.
- While the majority of the Alletra MP hardware remains unchanged, there are some variations between the initial block and file offerings, including underlying software differences such as file requiring additional SCM SSDs and IO considerations. Nevertheless, the Alletra MP platform’s flexibility and versatility enable it to adapt to a wide range of use cases, making it an attractive option for various enterprise storage solutions.
HPE GreenLake for file storage
HPE’s GreenLake file storage solution leverages VAST Data’s scale-out file storage system. The VAST solution features compute nodes that handle most of the processing and storage nodes that guarantee availability. The hardware stack for GreenLake file storage comprises HPE’s Alletra MP Compute and JBOFF, along with the Aruba 8325 data centre switches. For those interested in learning more about the architecture, there is a detailed podcast available with VAST Data.
In the GreenLake file storage configuration with VAST Data, HPE ensures a remarkable six nines of reliability, making it highly dependable for mission-critical applications. It’s worth noting that this solution has the capability to scale into the exascale range effortlessly, but HPE still needs to build a cluster of that size to complete the necessary validation. However, once HPE qualifies a 30.72TB SSD part, the capacity per node statistics will approximately double, making this solution even more impressive in terms of performance and scalability.
HPE GreenLake for Block Storage:
HPE GreenLake for Block Storage offers customers a reliable and scalable solution for mission-critical applications. The Alletra MP storage servers, which act as the building blocks for this service, are designed to provide 100% availability, ensuring that data is always accessible when it’s needed. This is achieved through the use of FibreChannel switching technology from Brocade, which provides high-performance and low-latency connectivity between servers and storage arrays. Whether you’re running a small business or a large enterprise, HPE GreenLake for Block Storage is a flexible and powerful storage solution that can meet your needs.
The HPE Alletra MP platform is a net win for customers, as it makes it a lot easier for HPE to support their GreenLake storage offerings today and their “standard” on-prem SAN and NAS offerings in the future. There’s little upside for dedicated hardware for each platform; HPE was wise to see that and start the move to a universal platform. And while it’s not entirely germane in the sense of GreenLake, having iLO there for management also brings a secure, hardened lifecycle update controller to the systems.