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3PAR brings 4 controllers to midrange, skips SSD for now

3PAR’s new F Class midrange systems that launched today look a lot like its T-Class enterprise systems, only smaller. So the F-Class inherits its share of enterprise features as well as the gap in the T-Class platform

The enterprise features includes the ability to scale to four controllers – other midrange systems support two controllers – and what 3PAR calls Mesh-Active controller nodes. Mesh-Active controller architecture provides symmetrical access to all LUNs, instead of connecting a LUN to one controller.

At least one analyst, Evaluator Group managing partner Russ Fellows, gives 3PAR high grades for bringing those features to the midrange.

“By scaling to four controllers, they have twice as many as any midrange class system out there,” he said. “And the system scales literally, with symmetric LUN access. All high-end data center systems support symmetric LUN access across controllers, but pretty much nobody in the midrange does.”

However, 3PAR’s new midrange systems share the same missing feature as its enterprise systems. At a time when just about every new storage system rollout includes solid state drive (SSD) support, 3PAR still has none.

“We will support solid state, but the pressure to do so has been muted compared to what we’ve observed with other storage vendors,” 3PAR VP of markeing Craig Nunes says.

Nunes said when 3PAR gets into SSD, it will be with a SATA interface instead of the pricier FC-attached SSDs.

“If you need higher IOPS, we deliver that today with wide striping,” he said. “Fibre Channel-attached SSDs are premium priced and will never cross over the dollar per IOP line. Wide striping is better. The next wave of SATA-interfaced SSD drives promises to drop that IOP per dollar to the crossover point.”

Although competitors offer SSDs in the midrange as well as the enterprise, Fellows says lack of SSD support hurts 3PAR more with its enterprise systems than with the F-Class. “In the midrange, you add more than six SSDs and you have a million-dollar system, and that’s not a midrange system anymore,” he said. “That will change in a year or two. But it is a bit of a drawback now in the high end.”

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