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HP adds new high-end 3PAR flash models, software features

HP unveils new high-end 3PAR StoreServ 20000 family all-flash and hybrid flash arrays and software resiliency and storage federation capabilities

Hewlett-Packard Co. today unveiled new high-end 3PAR flash storage models, software resiliency features and storage federation capabilities to kick off its Discover conference in Las Vegas.

The HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage 20000 enterprise family, which is due to ship in August, features a 20850 all-flash model and a 20800 converged flash array that supports hard-disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Vish Mulchand, senior director of product management and marketing for HP Storage, said the 20800 hybrid array's design "was with flash in mind first" as opposed to the early "disk-based designs trying to masquerade as flash arrays."

Both new HP arrays start at two controllers and can scale out to eight. HP's all-flash 20850 can hold up to 1,024 SSDs, ranging from 480 GB to a new 3.84 TB drive, and can scale in raw capacity from a minimum of 1.92 TB to 3,932 TB. The system's cache maxes out at 3.6 TB.

"The reason why we're bringing a machine to this scale and caliber is because more and more people want to deploy flash now," Mulchand said. "You are hearing people talk about your all-flash data center, and to be able to do that, you need systems that you can scale and that you can run mixed workloads on."

HP's existing all-flash array models are considerably smaller in scale. The company's all-flash 7200c can have up to two controller nodes, 120 SSDs, 460.8 TB of raw capacity and 40 GB of cache. HP's all-flash 7450c can have up to four controllers, 240 SSDs, 921.6 TB of raw capacity and 192 GB of cache.

"They're doing a good job of creating an architecture that scales from the midrange all the way up to tier one, and it has a consistent set of software," said Russ Fellows, a senior partner and analyst at Evaluator Group. "One of the big issues that customers have, whether they're Hitachi, IBM, or EMC customers, is there's a difference between the high-end tier one platforms and the midrange platforms -- different software, incompatible, can't do replication. By having the consistent architecture with 3PAR, they overcome a lot of limitations."

HP's hybrid 20800 model can be configured with up to 1,920 total drives, including a maximum of 1,024 SSDs and any number of HDDs, ranging in capacity from 600 GB to 6 TB. The array's raw capacity can range from 1.92 TB to 6 PB. Up to 1.8 TB of on-node cache and a total of 33.8 TB including flash cache is available, according to HP.

The new 20000 family models use HP 3PAR's new Gen5 Thin Express ASIC to boost performance, scalability and hardware-accelerated deduplication. HP claims the all-flash 20850 is capable of more than 3.2 million IOPS with sub-millisecond latency and more than 75 GBps of sustained throughput.

HP 3PAR Peer Motion enables a federated system consisting of four 3PAR StoreServ 20000 family storage arrays capable of moving data bi-directionally between them for workload balancing. Federated storage treats multiple arrays as one logical asset, Mulchand noted.

A federated set of four 20000 systems can also tack on an additional four legacy storage systems, such as EMC's Clariion, VNX and VMAX or Hitachi Data Systems' TagmaStore NSC, TagmaStore USP, USP V, USP VM and VSP, for one-way data import, according to HP.

New HP software features include 3PAR Persistent Checksum to protect against data corruption and transmission errors from application servers to storage arrays; 3PAR Remote Copy for flash-focused asynchronous streaming replication to eliminate the overhead of synchronous replication while providing a near-exact copy, and 3PAR Remote Copy integration with HP StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central (RMC) to enable offloading replicated snapshots from 3PAR flash arrays to HP backup devices.

HP StoreOnce Recovery Manager Central for VMware (RMC-V) with 3PAR Remote Copy support will be generally available this month at no charge for customers with an existing RMC-V or RM-V license and support contract.

One gap in HP's 20000 family compared to many all-flash array (AFA) is support for inline data compression. Fellows said, in general, it's better to have compression, but he doesn't think "it's that big a deal." He noted that Oracle databases have built-in compression, and some database administrators prefer to use compression settings in Oracle.

HP claimed to lower the cost of all-flash storage from $2 to $1.50 per usable gigabyte during the last year. The price per GB factors in data reduction and can vary based on the data type. Mulchand said the newly lower cost factors in the drop in the price of flash as well as data deduplication, thin provisioning and adaptive sparing.

"On the margin, this will definitely have a positive effect," wrote Eric Burgener, storage research director at International Data Corp. (IDC), in an email. "Every customer I talk to tells me they would use more flash if it cost less, and that deciding about putting a workload on flash or not is driven first by performance and then cost."

Burgener said that with the 20000 family, HP can argue it is providing AFA-like performance on a mature, proven platform that outscales other AFAs on performance and capacity, but this claim comes at a cost.

"You'll have to run the 20000 at a pretty high level of workload density for it to be a better deal than the competitive AFAs today," Burgener wrote. "Customers may never grow into needing something this big over the next several years, but it's available for those that need it. This could possibly give them a bit of a leg up when competing against EMC VMAX3, IBM DS80000 and HDS VSP G Series for those customers who want flash-optimized versions of these proven enterprise storage workhorses."

Mulchand said street pricing for the HP 3PAR StoreServ 20850 starts at $75,000 for a system with two controllers, four SSDs, one drive enclosure and the base operating system.

Mark Peters, practice director and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said via an email that the AFA market is "on fire right now" with old and new vendors scrambling to get a share of the pie. "Having a good competitive product is especially important for the 'big dogs' like HP, since they are the ones that stand to lose HDD installed base," he noted.

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