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3PAR adds midrange array for secondary sites

3PAR has introduced a smaller version of its InServ Storage Server, which it describes as a product-line extension into its existing customer base.

3PARdata Inc.(3PAR) has added a midrange version of its InServ storage array to its lineup, serving its existing customer base with secondary storage for remote sites and, potentially, smaller companies that don't require its more expensive, high-end products.

The InServ E200 Storage Server is a smaller version of the InServ S400 and S800 arrays, running the same 3PAR InForm operating system and software, including thin provisioning, dynamic optimization, and virtual and remote copy. It supports Fibre Channel and iSCSI host connectivity and scales from 16 to 128 drives and from 2 terabytes (TB) to 63 TB using 147 GB Fibre Channel (FC), 300 GB FC and/or 500 GB nearline drives. On the connectivity side, the box provides four to 12 FC host ports and four optional iSCSI ports.

"Adding iSCSI support along with existing Fibre Channel makes sense for a large enterprise that wants storage at a remote branch but wants to use iSCSI to connect to the network," said Dianne McAdam, analyst and director at the Clipper Group.

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She noted that this product uses the same software as its bigger brother. Users can remotely replicate between the systems with the same look and feel, which she said is a major plus over the competition. "The DS8000 and DS6000 from IBM use the same software, but the DS4000 does not, and EMC [Corp.] Symmetrix and Clariion don't have the same replication software."

Clement Ho, IT manager at Novellus Systems Inc., a manufacturer of machinery for chip design companies, including Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD), bought an E200 in May for its disaster recovery site in Tualatin, Ore. "We wanted something that was easy to maintain and administer," he said. Novellus checked out midrange products from EMC, Pillar Data Systems Inc., Network Appliance Inc., Hitachi Data Systems Inc. (HDS) and its existing storage supplier, Sun Microsystems Inc. The company has a 6 TB Sun 9900, which is rebranded from HDS, at its primary site in San Jose, Calif. The E200 stores SAP data that is replicated to the remote site using Oracle 10G. Right now, the company's replicating its file data to tape at the primary site. Phase two of its disaster recovery project will be looking at remote replication for this and all its other data.

Ho said he will be checking out 3PAR's high-end arrays when his primary storage is up for renewal. He said the E200 was on average 50% lower in price than the other systems he evaluated. This is surprising given 3PAR's gear is not usually the cheapest. Pricing for an InServ E200 with 2.3 TB of capacity and the InForm operating systems (including 3PAR Rapid Provisioning, Access Guard and Full Copy software) begins at approximately $65,000. This configuration also includes four FC host ports, system installation, two years of software support and a two-year hardware warranty. Tom Trainer, analyst with the Evaluator Group, said that from a pricing perspective, 3PAR is usually somewhere between 20% and 30% higher than the competition.

Still to come

Trainer would like to see 3PAR open its code for application vendors to freely write to its application program interface (API). "This would speed up their adoption much faster if all the ISVs [ independent software vendor] can write to their platform," he said. He's waiting on the Adaptive Provisioning release, which is expected in the second half of 2007, as a feature that will really set the box apart. Also, he says, 3PAR makes very little of its 3PAR Central functionality, which is similar to EMC's call home maintenance; only 3PAR has gone a few steps further providing analysis of machine and environment conditions.

3PAR claims that 60% of its business last quarter came from repeat customers, which is a strong indicator that its existing base is satisfied with the product. It has about 170 customers in total.

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