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HP 3PAR StoreServ gets flash-focused updates in dedupe and caching

HP extends inline dedupe to additional 3PAR StoreServ arrays and adds flash caching, express writes and an enhanced tool set to optimize SSD use.

Hewlett-Packard Co. today said it has made flash-focused 3PAR operating system updates to enable customers to deploy deduplication with additional array models. HP also added adaptive caching and "express writes" to boost application performance, and enhanced tools to optimize solid-state deployments.

HP extended its inline "thin deduplication" to all of its 3PAR StoreServ 7000 and 10000 models. HP initially made available inline deduplication in June for the all-flash 7450. The 7200, 7400, 10400 and 10800 models can take best advantage of dedupe when they run with flash drives or in hybrid mode with hard-disk drives and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Vish Mulchand, senior director of product management and marketing for HP storage, said HP's "thin" deduplication is hardware-accelerated through the company's Gen 4 ASIC to reduce dependency on the central processor and lessen the performance impact associated with the capacity-reducing technology.

Mulchand noted that HP uses the modifier "thin" with product features that target capacity efficiency. Other such capabilities include thin provisioning, thin replication and thin clones. 3PAR, which HP acquired in 2010, brought thin provisioning technology into storage.

HP introduced Adaptive Flash Cache and Express Writes to customers on Sept. 29, although Mulchand said the company withheld the public announcement until today. Express Writes reduce write latency and can be especially helpful in speeding updates to database transaction log files, Mulchand said.

Adaptive Flash Cache adds to 3PAR StoreServ DRAM caching

Mulchand said Adaptive Flash Cache offers customers a new read-acceleration option to add to the 3PAR StoreServ arrays' existing DRAM caching. The technology gives customers the ability to devote a portion of their flash capacity to accelerate random reads without the need to make hardware changes.

"The value of the HP Adaptive Flash Cache is not so much in flash cache, per se, but in the fact that HP's implementation does not require dedicated flash capacity -- leaving room to use the capacity and/or performance in different ways as workloads demand," Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass., wrote in an email.

HP's Flash Advisor, which became available on Oct. 29, can analyze the read and write ratios per storage volume to identify the volumes that are best suited to benefit from Adaptive Flash Cache. The tool set also can estimate and analyze the amount of duplicate data in the system and apply inline deduplication to select volumes or the entire data set to reclaim flash capacity, according to Mulchand.

He said Flash Advisor expands on the "adaptive optimization" capabilities HP offered in the past. Customers could identify hot data for potential use with the system's adaptive optimization sub-LUN tiering. The new Flash Advisor further eases the process of determining hot and cold data and assessing which data would benefit from tiering, caching, or both, according to Mulchand.

New features available at no additional cost

HP delivers Flash Advisor, Thin Deduplication, Adaptive Flash Cache and Express Writes with its 3PAR 3.2.1 MU1 operating system at no additional charge, according to Mulchand. Customers that buy 3PAR arrays or maintain valid support contracts gain access to the new features through the updated operating system.

Peters said Enterprise Strategy Group research has shown that IT users want to use more flash, but many still see price as an obstacle. Delivering extra capacity via inline dedupe and extra performance via ASIC-optimized writes and flash-cache reads at no added cost help HP to address the issue, he said.

Although HP extended its inline deduplication functionality, the company has yet to offer inline compression capabilities, as many flash storage arrays do. Inline compression is typically more helpful than deduplication with the database workloads that enterprises often use with flash storage. Mulchand said inline compression is on HP's roadmap, but he did not specify a date.

In other news today, HP announced that its all-flash 3PAR StoreServ 7200, 7400 and 7450 arrays are certified for use with the SAP HANA in-memory analytics database. HP had already certified the 7200 and 7400 arrays in hybrid mode through SAP's certification process, according to Mulchand.

Pricing for the newly certified HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Starter Kit starts at $35,000.

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