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Enterprise Computing: 3par and HDS – 50% Saving – Guaranteed?

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In the past week, both 3Par and HDS have announced a 50% guarantee on reclaimed storage if customers move data from existing “fat” legacy arrays to 3Par storage or use HDS thin provisioning technologies.  The 3Par news release is here; the Hitachi news release is here.

The 3Par guarantee is presented with a caveat:

The above is intended to highlight certain aspects of our Get Thin Guarantee and does not contain the full terms, conditions, limitations, definitions, and other provisions (“Terms”) of the Get Thin Guarantee. The Terms shall be contained in a written Get Thin Offer which shall take precedence over the above. Qualification for our Get Thin Guarantee is subject to your acceptance of a Get Thin Offer containing the Terms and satisfaction of those Terms.

This, no doubt is the legalese to satisfy the lawers, however it probably also holds the specific terms and conditions of the data to which the 50% applies.

Hitachi’s caveat restricts the 50% savings to migrations from RAID-1 to dynamic provisioned RAID-5, otherwise the guarantee is only 20%.  Well duh.  Moving from RAID-1 to RAID-5 alone gives a saving of up to 42% depending on how you choose to calculate it.

You may remember Netapp also have a 50% space guarantee (details here).  I wonder how that is going….

It too had a number of restrictions on the type of data which would be classed as suitable and also required customers to implement the storage in a certain way.

Whilst these sorts of programs are welcome if they genuinely result in savings for customers, what we need to be wary of is clever marketing which in reality results in configurations that customers wouldn’t implement.

One final thought; Hitachi guarantee to cough up the difference between used and predicted savings in storage.  That’s great (and I don’t know if Netapp and 3Par agreed the same), but there’s always a tradeoff between storage efficiency and performance.  Will the vendors also guarantee that performance won’t be impacted?

One final final thought…. I bet EMC don’t try and match the competition…

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • http://chucksblog.emc.com Chuck Hollis

    I look at these sorts of things and tend to shake my head.

    At EMC, we get involved in literally thousands of “cost out” projects with regard to storage and other infrastructure components (incl. server, network, etc.)

    We’ve found that it takes a broad range of technology (more than just a single feature!) to achieve significant cost out, as well as significant process and policy change as well.

    We do offer quick assessment services that size up a customer’s environment, compare that against benchmark norms, and quantify the investment / level-of-effort to get there so someone can have a semi-serious ROI discussion. Sometimes we do that on a small part of the estate (e.g. inefficient filers); sometimes it’s enterprise wide.

    And, of course, doing so without (a) compromising performance, (b) compromising availability, and (c) introducing new complexity and risk.

    Spectacular results are achievable, but it’s hard and complex work.

    I think anyone who’s serious about driving cost out of their storage environment will realize that a “guarantee” that involves moving from RAID 1 to RAID 5 or 6, (or something similar) will look past the marketing towards the substance.

    Or, at least, I hope so.

  • http://whatsthisgottodowithstorage.com Matthew Yeager

    Thought provoking post, and highlights the ‘conditions apply’ aspect of the vendor guarantees.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cost underwriting and ‘putting your money where your mouth is’, but at Computacenter we have developed a cost underwriting programme whereby we calculate the customer ‘do nothing’ costs for a five year period and the costs savings predicted over a five year period by using thin provisioning, storage virtualisation, data deduplication, data compression, ZPR, et al with a view to underwriting the costs savings such that if we are wrong in any one year we will write you a cheque for the difference. Whilst conditions would also apply for the Computacenter cost underwriting, I would argue that a) they aren’t onerous, b) take into account the unlikely nature of deploying all technologies simultaneously as it would introduce risk, and c) by providing a £ guarantee it allows customers to ‘unlock’ budget they would have spent on storage to purchase head count or other technologies which will enable them to be more competitive in their respective space.

    I guess the point I’m making here is that customers are very keen to reduce costs, but also need a way to ensure that the cost reduction doesn’t negatively affect their production business as well as having a guarantee which produces real business benefit and, ideally, allows them to introduce innovation elsewhere in their business with the savings.

    Anything less does run the risk of appearing much like the markitecture of the ROI calculators which were strangely absent pre recession but are now ubiquitous in the storage industry.

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  • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

    Matthew – exactly. Nothing wrong with reducing cost/usage and guaranteeing it, if it is the right thing for the business.


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  • http://blog.insanegeeks.com InsaneGeek

    Personally, as a storage guy I find these types of things insulting to my intelligence and profession. If you are doing your job in being a good steward for your company none of these things apply to you and all they do is force you to waste time explaining it.

    I don’t find that these things are pitches to the guys trying to manage the storage resources as well as they can, but to some executive tier extremely far removed. You then have to talk the executive back down from the from the stars they have in their eyes, as you are already using something other than raid-1; or you are using thin-provisioning; or you are using snapshots rather than full clones.

    Additionally while if you haven’t moved to some newer systems, every single vendor can pretty much supply all the feature they are using for their “guarantees” (with the exception of dedupe of primary storage i.e. NetApp which I have a number of); so there is nothing really unique about these pitches either from vendor to vendor if you are buying a new array (who doesn’t do raid5, who doesn’t do thin). In the end all it does is try to “shock and awe” some executive who doesn’t realize that they aren’t really getting you to buy anything unique, all the other vendors would give you the same level of savings because of the features (who much those features cost is something else)

    I’m just tired of all the BS coming in from the vendors that I have to waste massive amounts of my time with because somebody who doesn’t know anything about real differences read some crap on the internet (don’t even get me started on the whole did you see the Backblaze article that was forwarded to me ad nauseam: why can’t our Oracle OLTP database storage be $118.00 for a terabyte? questions that flooded me for weeks)

  • http://www.storagerap.com Marc Farley (3PARFarley)

    Hi Chris, Thanks for your post on this. Capacity guarantees are marketing programs designed to attract buyer’s attention. There is teeth in them when vendors offer a contract that states what they will do if their guarantee isn’t met. 3PAR (my employer), Netapp and HDS all offer contracts. So there is some risk for us in offering a guarantee because we might end up giving away free capacity.

    But there is much greater risk for us if we sell something that doesn’t work out for the customer. Every vendor has had issues with that sort of thing at one time or another and I think I speak for all of us that we want to avoid those sorts of problems. So what will we do if a customer wants to buy a configuration that is inadequate for their needs? I’m fairly certain our systems assurance process will spit it out and reject it – and we won’t sell it.

    That raises the question: Is your capacity guarantee just a gimmick to attract attention without any intention of making good on it? Of course we want to attract attention, but we can offer this program because we know from installing many products with many customers over the years that the risk for us isn’t very big. But because of the complexity of storage installations, the terms of each guarantee are expected to differ.

    I want to be clear about a detail of 3PAR’s program that differs from HDS’: we cover RAID 5 to RAID 5 conversions, but we do not cover customers wanting to step down to a smaller parity set size (n+1). For instance if a customer is running (7+1) on their current storage system, our capacity guarantee does not cover a change to a smaller parity set size, for example (3+1).

  • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

    Guys, thanks for the comment and Marc, thanks for qualifying some of the specifics of the 3Par T&Cs. Rather than comment, I think I’ll put up an additional post on my thoughts.


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  • Andrew

    When is the reduction measured. immediately after migration or at some agreed later data?

    The point of maximum effectiveness of a TP system is immediately after migration/creation. After that unless the app/filesystem is well behaved the ratio of actual data to provisioned storage will inevitably get worse as fragmentation and other filesystem artefacts clag up the TP system.

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