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3Par's 'adaptive provisioning' not for everyone

Jo Maitland, Senior Executive Editor

3Par Data Inc.'s plans to develop automatic provisioning software for its storage array, unveiled this week, were met with mixed reactions by its users. However, the new functionality will not be available until the first half of 2007.

The Fremont, Calif., startup's so-called Adaptive Provisioning software will allow users to configure a policy for data volume(s) residing on its InServ storage array. Once activated, it will gather and analyze data-usage characteristics detected by the array and based on this information, portions of data volumes are moved automatically between storage tiers. Data movement occurs transparently and nondisruptively to application hosts, the company said.

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"Automation is an important part of our value proposition … we're excited that 3Par is developing this functionality," said Bryan Doerr, chief technology and information officer at Savvis Inc., an IT hosting service provider. Savvis currently deploys almost 1,400 virtual firewalls and load balancers, 950 virtual servers and 320 terabytes (TB) of virtualized storage across 10 3Par InServ's.

Doerr notes that Savvis' infrastructure is clearly cutting edge and that automatic provisioning is probably more than most companies would use today. "In most systems, there's more automation available than the willing, conservative enterprise is ready to enable … People are more comfortable with static provisioning," he said.

Mark Douglas, vice president of technology at online dating service, eHarmony.com Inc., has two 3Par InServ arrays with 12 TB of data in each. The company has 10 million registered users pounding hundreds of millions of page views a month against these storage arrays.

"It's already so easy to provision storage using the InServ, the automatic part is not something we need … It doesn't buy us much," Douglas said. "It's a great idea for the right customer, but we don't need adaptive provisioning."

Another potential sticking point against the idea of automatic provisioning is that it's only as good as the policies created to move the data. A 3Par spokesman said the policy engine will look at whether the data is being used or not, and how old it is. 3Par is also looking for feedback from its users on what other parameters to include. It has started a customer development program and expects to have 10 to 12 users on board by the spring.

Another 3Par customer thinks the approach of adaptive provisioning should be looked at against the alternative of classifying data. "It will give us easy, one-stop policy administration without the complexity of classifying application information," said Rich Wilson, manager of Portal Operations at Ask Jeeves Inc.

Savvis's Doerr agrees: "It's intelligent data service level optimization without the onerous task of mass information classification."

3Par also announced that it has bundled its storage array and key applications into a single package called Utility Data Lifecycle Management. This includes the InServ, as well as templates that allow users to preconstruct service level definitions (e.g. gold, silver and bronze) against data volumes, a system tuner tool, 3Par virtual copy and remote copy software, and dynamic optimization software. The startup claims all these components enable an information lifecycle management (ILM)-in-a-box, which the company says takes the cost and complexity out of multiple platform approaches to ILM.


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