Back to basics: HPE adds SSDs, faster controllers, tiering and Cloud Volumes backup juice to MSA arrays

HPE’s basic Modular Smart Array storage line now goes a bit faster, with tiering and backup to the cloud, after the tech giant’s Gen 6 update announcement. 

The dual-controller MSA line is for small and medium businesses and is capped by Nimble, 3PAR, Primera and XP8 arrays for enterprises in HP’s storage array portfolio.

MSA Gen 6 product.

Chris Powers, HPE’s VP and GM for Big Data and Collaborative Platform Development, put out a prepared quote: “MSA is helping SMBs by delivering the performance and automation they need to keep their businesses running. We take pride in providing our customers with a reliable and fast solution at an affordable price so that their businesses can serve their clients efficiently.” 

The Gen 6 MSA range supports SSDs and includes a RAID controller that’s 50 per cent faster than Gen 5. An automated a real-time Tiering 2.0 algorithm keeps hot data on flash and delivers up to 45 per cent more workload application acceleration than previous Gen 4 and Gen 5 models. HPE claimed this boosts delivered performance by 2 – 4x compared to hard disk drive (HDD)-only configurations. 

An MSA Data Protection Plus (MSA-DP+), RAID-based data protection feature speeds drive  rebuild performance up to 25X faster than RAID 6. Interestingly, the firm said it can eliminate the need for idle drive spares and support capacity expansion at a more granular level, from single drives to whole expansion shelves. 

There are three new Gen 6 models:

  • MSA 1060: entry-level, 
  • MSA 2060: high-end with nearly 3 x the capacity and more than 2 x MSA 1060 performance,
  • MSA 2062:  High-end with 2 x 1.92TB SSD drives and an Advanced Data Service license, (up to 31 per cent off list price) providing tiering from day 1.

Supported drives are SSDs, 2-5-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives, all with SAS interfaces. The arrays themselves support Fibre Channel and iSCSI access as well. A new MSA Storage Management Utility (SMU v4) provides guided workflows that configure the array straight out of the box.

The MSA Health Check feature runs from the cloud and uses system logs to analyse array health. This isn’t anything like as comprehensive as InfoSight’s predictive analytics, but it’s a start.

MSA customers can back up to the cloud with Cloud Volumes Backup, using Recover Manager Central, without changing any existing backup workloads. Cloud Volumes Backup cloud services are also available through HPE GreenLake subscription services. 

An MSA Solution Brief contains more detailed information as do individual array specifications available here.

The MSA Gen 6 is now available for order globally direct and through HPE channel partners starting under $7,000.