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HP Storage Bets on 3PAR

HP Storage Bets on 3PAR

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At the recent HP Discover event in Frankfurt, HP announced their latest storage products in what was billed as their “most important/exciting announcement in 10 years”.  As well as re-branding the storage platforms from IBM-esque naming to more user friendly (and presumably copyright and trademark-able) monikers  the company release details of their extended 3PAR range, now called StoreServ, which in part is an homage to the 3PAR operating system InServ.  There were other interesting announcements which I’ll cover separately, but in this post I’ll cover the new 3PAR offerings.

3PAR for All

HP StoreServ 7000

HP StoreServ 7000

3PAR has always been pitched as an enterprise product.  There are vendors and end users who may choose tight definitions of what classifies “enterprise”, but in reality we have to accept that the monolithic storage array design was surpassed some time ago by modular arrays that are perfectly capable of providing the levels of performance and availability seen in monolithic arrays 10 years ago.  In addition, 3PAR was designed to meet modern requirements around thin provisioning and so includes dedicated ASIC technology to handle this.  HP have announced that the 3PAR platform has been scaled down for midrange users, with the new HP StoreServe 7200 and 7400 models.  These new appliances are 2U and 4U rack-mount devices, with integrated controllers and drives.  Prices start from as low as $20,000, although for that there will be restrictions on exactly what software and licences are included.  See the link at the end of this post to HP’s product website.

HP’s storage platform strategy had been a bit of a muddle over previous years.  Their portfolio encompassed high-end XP (renamed P9000 series), rebranded from Hitachi, down through EVA, Lefthand (p4000) and P2000 from Dot Hill.  The company had made many storage acquisitions, which seemed to point to a direction of commodity storage and intellectual property based out of the software.  With the 3PAR acquisition, that strategy changed somewhat, with 3PAR’s dedicated ASIC design and a focus on bespoke hardware.  The new 7000 series still follows the route of custom hardware, with the inclusion of a single ASIC and a custom built chassis with dedicated controllers.

Matching the Competition

HP need to bring their portfolio in line with the competition.  There’s no doubt that the biggest target for Mssrs Donatelli & Scott are NetApp and EMC.  Dave Scott’s launch presentation refers to the range of disparate EMC primary storage platforms; the new 7000 series will also support file protocols (via a separate gateway device), making it clear that NetApp is a definite target.  The 7000 announcement hasn’t pushed HP ahead of the competition, but brings them in line with those vendors who have already started to streamline their portfolios across a smaller number of functionally consistent devices.  By that I mean similar operating system and of course management software.  Dave Scott is right to call out EMC on their VNX, DMX, VMAX, XtremIO, Islion and ATMOS devices as all being from different stables and each requiring different skill sets.  But to be fair, until HP retire EVA, P9000, P2000, then they will be in the same position.

OK, I should say that HP appear to have a vision of more consistent integration of their products.  There are options to transition customers from EVA to 3PAR and older technology takes time to sunset and migrate customers over.  But there are still inconsistencies.  There appears to be a big overlap between LeftHand (now branded StoreVirtual) and 3PAR, as both now offer iSCSI and FC protocols.  Although I asked, I didn’t get a straight answer on the differentiation between those two product lines and how they will be marketed in the future.

The Architect’s View

HP have definitely made the right move in making 3PAR technology available to a wider market.  For block-based data, it is more flexible and efficient than EMC or NetApp’s offerings.  Time will tell whether the file-based protocols will be as well integrated.  However if HP want to sell the story of uniformity, then they need to practise what they preach and decide where the P2000, EVA and P9000 platforms are headed.  I hope the new 7000 series does well, as it would vindicate the quality that was built into 3PAR from day 1.

 

Related Links

 

Disclaimer:  I was invited and attended HP Discover Frankfurt.  HP paid for my flights, accommodation and most meals.  I am not obliged to blog on any of the information presented at the event and none of my post are pre-validated by HP before publication.   

About Chris M Evans

  • chriscowleysound

    I’m intrigued to know how they will arrange the SME range. This new range seems to be squeezing the 2 low-end lines (P4000 and P2000) in to a very thin band. The Lefthand/P4x00 range has always seemed a little odd to me, what with the P2000 being DAMN fast and FC, but the P4x00 limited to iSCSI only and not so swift – in a straight line at least.

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

      P4000 supports Fibre Channel, which makes things more opaque. Should I go low end 3PAR or LeftHand? Question is, can the sales team explain the difference to the customer?

      Chris

      • chriscowleysound

        I seem to remember it didn’t when I looked at for Snell. As for the choice between 3Par and Lefthand, I do not think there will be much of a choice before long (http://www.chriscowley.me.uk/blog/2012/12/17/what-will-hp-do-next/).

      • http://twitter.com/hansdeleenheer Hans De Leenheer

        Remark on the FC support for StoreVirtual (aka P4000, aka Lefthand); this is only front-end support. It still needs iSCSI back-end (10GbE for FC supported config). If you look at the broad picture here this means that this is the answer for customers that ask for P2000 (aka MSA). The P2000 en P6000 are the only storage product lines that are not rebranded. I would not recommend to use the StoreVirtual wth FC for bigger environments.

        There always is an overlap between products. If you don’t have an overlap, there’s a gap and you don’t want that do you? You need to be able to buy a small StoreServ and grow bigger but you also need to be able to scale a StoreVirtual far enough if you don’t know upfront how big your environment will grow.

        I did a blogpost myself where you see that whole list of rebrandings and a few of my remarks. http://hansdeleenheer.blogspot.be/2012/12/please-welcome-baby-3par.html

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

          Hans

          I guess what you mean is that the back-end interconnect between LeftHand nodes remains 10GbE even if you only use host-connected Fibre Channel. As iSCSI was the original protocol, it makes sense that the same physical network be used for the interconnect. It makes the FC implementation slightly more complex though.

          Chris

          • http://twitter.com/hansdeleenheer Hans De Leenheer

            Yes, instead of having a dumb backplane of high speed 4-lanes 6GB SAS interconnects, you’ll have an extra SAN (as in ‘network’) to manage of ‘only’ a chatty 10GbE iSCSI. Second point here, as it is my asumption that it is targeted at those P2000 customers is that 10GbE backplane might become a pretty expensive thing.
            What I do know is that you can choose wether or not you have FC frontend on all members of the cluster, with a minimum of 2 off course.
            What I don’t know yet is how the network raid thing works, or not, on this configurations. Has always been strongest point (as in unique selling point). When you lose that, I don’t know why I would choose it.
            Last point is a good point: they brought the management out-of-band! So your CMC, central management console, does not have to be in the iSCSI network anymore. That was sometimes not easy on hypervisors if you want to use your HBA’s to talk native iSCSI and have your CMC in a VM.

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