As someone who was very keen to get my hands on 3PAR gear before HP bought them and who had seen his last storage array vendor gobbled up by Dell, I had mixed feelings about HP being the winner in the 3PAR bidding war. At the time I had not had evaluated the EVA platform in 2006 but wasn’t overly impressed. I still thought of HP as printers, PC’s, and servers, not storage. The XP line didn’t interest me either and I had evaluated LeftHand when it was LeftHand and for me Equallogic won the iSCSI battle of the day.
I think I can chalk up that mindset as stemming from my lack of exposure to the HP side of things. The shops I had worked at had all been Dell, Compaq, and IBM, so the familiarity wasn’t there. But there was also in my view a legitimate case to be made that HP was a very large poorly run company that didn’t really know what their direction was. Perhaps the CEO merry –go-round had something to do with this.
As we all know the times they are a changing, and yesterday was HP’s time. The primary announcement being the introduction of the 7000 series of 3PAR entry and mid level arrays. The 7200 and 7400 series arrays are shipping right now, and as you hear HP tell it they have orders lined up and ready to go. I had heard that the initial production ramp was significant, I’m willing to guess this is because there are thousands of EVA customers out there who are dedicated to HP but didn’t have the budget for a full fledged 3PAR system but were desperate to get off a system that was very long in the tooth.
First off we get two base models, a dual node 7200 and the quad node 7400. Entry level pricing of 25k for the 7200 and 40k for the 7400. Now what exactly you get for those prices is still not known to me, but that initial price point will be very, very, very, attractive to a good number of customers, and it won’t just be the enterprise. This is targeted directly at the Dell Compellent and EMC VNX/e based arrays which have been eating up a significant portion of the SMB space. Not to say this is an SMB array, it has true Tier 1 functionality within it and the potential to scale big enough for a wide swath of customers. I constantly have to remind myself that the days of a terabyte of data being “big data” are long long gone. Many small businesses today generate Terabytes of data annually and data growth is one of the key metrics on storage admins minds, right after performance.
Devil is in the details
Do keep in mind though that the devil will be in the details when it comes to pricing these systems out. 3PAR like, EMC, and others love to charge for the goodness, and these systems will be no exception. The base system will get you the entry level feature set, that will include thin-provisioning and some other basics, but 3PAR doesn’t shine fully unless you license the best features. As usual HP’s website is nearly impossible to navigate, but here is the best product link I could find to go into specifics. See only the base configuration is available, you have to pay for all the best stuff.
I can see the Application Suite for VMware specifically being a must have for any 3PAR customer, as well as Data Optimization. The Reporting Suite is also one of those things I as a storage administrator would want to have especially given the reliance upon thin provisioning with 3PAR. I won’t go into the ins-n-outs of all these various packages, Nate over at TechOpsGuys already did that for me 🙂 And trust me, he knows the systems far better than I do so his input is highly valuable. Also if you’re an existing 3PAR or EVA customer, here is a good breakdown on the functionality being made available for migration.
The Next Era of Storage
To get a better idea of the direction that HP is taking, take a look at this video. Not only did it channel every 80’s Hair Metal Band with its soundtrack, it manages to put together the direction in which HP is heading.
I will say is that HP has in my view caught up with the rest of the storage industry when it comes to having a modern mid-tier array platform to sell to its customers with the new 3PAR 7000 series. There is now ample competition with the VNX line from EMC and in my view competition is good. HP is making steps into the right direction with its desire to unify the look and feel as well as the management console across their storage platforms. This is something IBM did with the XIV GUI which was ported over to the StoreWise v7000 and DS8000 lines. EMC to an extent is trying to do the same but in a far less successful manner (there are just too many product lines to do this). A common look and feel and functionality set goes a long way towards adoption of disparate platforms from the same vendor. Many of the mysteries of storage administration have become abstracted from the end user, and the move towards the “IT Generalists” (a phrase I loathe) has started to permeate throughout the interfaces for many systems. While the C-Level guys might like the fact that you can drive storage from an iPAD, many of us will continue to use the command line. Its good to see that functionality has not yet been removed.
There is a lot more to this announcement than just the new 7000 series systems, HP has gone through its portfolio and revamped nearly everything, and as HP says, The Next Era of storage is here. The decoder ring goes like this:
- Protection = StoreOnce and StoreEver
- Connect = StoreFabric
- Converged = StoreEasy
Keep those names in mind as you see more discussed in the coming months. I expect the markets to take this new product offering as a sign that HP is turning the corner with one of their most profitable product lines, which should be good for HP overall especially after the recent Autonomy news.
Oh and of course, as a lover of all things FUD, I would be remiss in linking to Dells response on the day of the launch. I don’t think that will be the case going forward.