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3PAR Continues to be HP Storage Cornerstone

3PAR Continues to be HP Storage Cornerstone

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This week HP announced their new all-flash array, the 3PAR StoreServ 7450.  I’ll post separately on the details of the new platform, but for now, I’d like to discuss the strategy HP are taking compared to the wider market.

As we can see from one of the slides presented yesterday, HP are firmly targeting EMC’s disparate technology portfolio. It’s true that EMC have many different technologies they have acquired over the years, however in general these products meet a range of storage needs, so we should only be considering those within the platform types.  Even so, in primary storage we see 5 separate offerings.  This in itself isn’t a big deal unless you have a need to work across these platforms and want seamless and consistent management across them all.

HP continue to stress the benefit of the single 3PAR StoreServ platform in its ability to range from entry level (7200 model) to the high end StoreServ 10800.  The newly announced 7450 fits the “performance” requirement slot as can be seen on the second slide.  This slide also highlights the merits of a single interface, single technology and so on.  Personally I think this is a great benefit for a number of reasons including:

  • Data Mobility – I can move data in and out of my flash architecture device, using a single (built in) replication technology.  So, if I have workload that needs SSD performance, I can move it between arrays reasonably simply.
  • Understandable Performance – the 3PAR architecture uses a dispersed architecture for storing data across as many disks or SSDs as possible.  The only difference between a standard array and the all-flash models is the speed of those devices.  This makes it easy for me to understand the amount of performance scaling I should expect without having to think in more detail about a new design.
  • Consistent Management – users can configure through a single interface and only have to go through one set of integration tasks for monitoring, alerting, security etc.

Could other vendors do this?  Of course they could.  It was interesting to see Hitachi was missed off HP’s competitor slide.  Their new flash blades and chassis for VSP are a realistic competitor to HP and provide the same scalability, consistent management and mobility features HP are claiming for 3PAR.  In addition, HP can support mainframe, where 3PAR can’t.  The funny thing is, at HP Discover in Frankfurt, HP were promoting the XP24000, the VSP equivalent, including the flash blades, meaning HP still rungs two platforms of their own.

The Architect’s View

In his keynote today, Dave Donatelli claimed that flash startups don’t have the breadth of features that the 3PAR platform offers.  This is somewhat disingenuous to the many companies that have created some true innovation in this new space.  However this is a standard marketing approach and we shouldn’t expect anything less.  We see worse from HP’s competitors.  The 3PAR platform does have an architecture that works well with SSD and both hardware and software changes have been made to the 7450 to optimise performance.  I’ll be posting more on this later, as the detail is what really counts for customers.

Disclaimer: HP have paid for flights and accommodation for Chris Evans to attend HP Discover.  However this does not imply a requirement to blog about the event and no editorial rights to any published content is provided.

Comments are always welcome; please indicate if you work for a vendor as it’s only fair.  If you have any related links of interest, please feel free to add them as a comment for consideration.

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About Chris M Evans

  • AltonBT

    Still think IBM has a more flexible solution when you use their San Volume Controller (SVC) to front – and virtualize – anyone’s storage. When you consider that you can attach the Texas Memory Systems flash storage arrays to the SVC as well, then you can do everything 3Par can do and more – and faster.

    • http://thestoragearchitect.com/ Chris M Evans

      SVC is a good solution and you’re right about putting SSD behind it. However I think SVC has a few shortcomings at the moment; first I don’t think it scales well (not without compromising on things like partition size). Also, there’s no block-level tiering (yet). EasyTier seems to me a workaround for that at the moment.

      However on the plus side, SVC is all about software, so those missing features can be added reasonably easily and with the continual increase in processor power, becomes easier to achieve.

      Chris

      • Mike Ward

        I’d have to agree with AltonBT. Utilizing the SVC with a FlashSystem offers you a ton of flexibility. You can setup read-preferred volumes via mirroring, add it in a EasyTier disk for auto improvement on hot extents, and what I think is the biggest factor that makes this a winner is the benefit of the SVC provided Real-Time Compression. No-impact in line compression offerring around 50% savings is a significant cost saver, especially when you consider the licensing cost for RTC is very attractive. The above is what I run today, and evaluating HP’s 3PAR portfolio I’m finding it lacking in a few things. First they are using MLC flash instead of EMLC, so for the same dollar my IBM Flashsystem is going to get more years out of it than a HP 7450. If I hadn’t already invested in the SVC solution the 3PAR replication suite would be attractive but alas it’s a day late and a dollar short and not quite enough to make me want to change direction and introduce 3PAR to the environment. Also the 3PAR management suite needs some polishing. It’s a great leap for HP for companies that haven’t already investing in SVC, but all of the great features 3PAR provides are already included for free in the SVC. I will continue to watch 3PAR evolve closely but I’m in no rush to replace an excellent SVC solution.

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