Dot Hill Earns Patent for Real-Time Storage Tiering

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-01-07

LAS VEGAS — Storage software developer Dot Hill has made the engine for Hewlett-Packard's entry-level MSA 2000 arrays for a number of years. However, as is the nature of the business for OEMs, it hasn't received enough of the credit for all that intellectual property it has created.

That is all changing. Although it still sells $130 million per year worth of software to HP as an OEM supplier, the 25-year-old company is expanding its horizons.

Last August, Dot Hill went out with its own branded storage-area network system, the AssuredSAN Pro 5000 Series. On Jan. 7, the Longmont, Colo.-based company revealed that its crown jewel IP, its RealStor real-time tiered storage management, has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent Office.

The company made the announcement at the Storage Visions 2013 conference here in Las Vegas.

This is big news in the storage domain. No other company can claim it has real-time tiered storage management—an automation feature that enables the array to move block data to the right drives (hard disks or solid-state) as the workload requires.

Some providers come close to real time, but delayed batch processing isn't close to the same thing.

"Having this patent on real-time storage tiering will enable Dot Hill to move into new markets—mostly, the mid-range—at least for starters," Marketing Director Jim Jonez told eWEEK. "Up to now, we've been all about the entry-level market, and that's all going to change. We'll still be doing our OEM work, but having our own brand will improve our business greatly."

The AssuredSAN Pro 5000 Series uses this IP to minimize waiting for data lookups. Storage systems that rely on spinning disks experience latency when data is concentrated on the same drive. Rather than let requests queue up, RealStor moves the pages automatically, without user intervention, to another drive within the same tier. This lets all tiers maximize their performance.

This data migration happens in real time, without requiring either policy setting or human intervention.

This is Dot Hill's 87th U.S. patent, numbered 8,321,646, which describes a lightweight algorithm to keep track of pages in all storage components in a storage tier.

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