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Confirmed once again: the power of 3PAR innovation in today’s storage market

Excuse me while I use a couple paragraphs to express how proud I am of what HP Storage innovatione_09Sept_sized.jpghas done with 3PAR these last five years. Before 3PAR, HP Storage was losing market share but now that has all changed. In this post, I wanted to review the latest Q2 2015 IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker, talk about 3PAR history, with an emphasis on innovation since the acquisition.
Let me highlight a few things from the IDC Tracker1:

  • HP 3PAR is in a statistical tie for the 2Q2015 #1 midrange SAN Disk Array family. From a revenue perspective HP 3PAR has 13.3% share while EMC VNX has 13%.
  • IDC shows HP's all flash array revenue (which is the 3PAR StoreServ All-Flash product) grew 551% year over year, growing 5.9 times faster than the AFA market. In the first half of 2015, HP’s combined Q1 and Q2 revenue puts us at a tie for the #2 spot with IBM for the vendors IDC ranks. In fact, HP has had a 10 point year-over-year share gain. That is HUGE!
  • According to IDC, HP had 10.5% revenue market share for the Total External Disk Market during 2Q2015. This was enough to share #2 ranking with NetApp and IBM since IDC considers market share gaps under 1% to be a statistical tie.

1 IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker, September 3, 2015


A moment to reflect on the storage industry—and the fate of startups
I was at VMworld last week. Among other things, it’s always interesting to walk the show floor and check out the vendor landscape. Over the last five years, VMworld has become a storage show where every storage vendor, even some who come and go in the span of a year, show up with a booth.

This made me wonder if there was data out there about how many of the storage startups will be left standing. According to Forbes, 90% of tech startups fail. 90%! That surprised me. Of the VMworld sponsors this year (Diamond through to Bronze), I counted 34 vendors focused on storage in startup mode, (and of course not including the top five—HP, EMC, Dell, IBM, NetApp and I'll include HDS). If I apply that 90% to those 34 startup vendors at VMworld, four will survive. Four!

A 3PAR history lesson
3PAR Inc. was a unique exception built on unique innovation. 3PAR was founded in 1999. The first product shipped was in September 2002. By 2007, they completed an initial public offering (IPO) and by 2008 were listed on the NYSE Big Board. Having talked to some of my colleagues that came from 3PAR, there were some lean years as CEO David Scott led the company through two separate economic downturns. However the intersection of 3PAR with virtualization and IT-as-a-Service resulted in it being one of a small number of storage companies that made it through the rain.

Innovation was a core tenant at 3PAR. The core of 3PAR was based on an “active-mesh” architecture, system–wide striping, fine grain virtualization, advanced metadata handling and system-wide sparing 3PAR pioneered thin provisioning and arguably it’s still the best in the industry. 3PAR, before being acquired by HP, also introduced Virtual Domains multi-tenant security, and Adaptive Optimization auto-tiering.


Exponential growth and innovation

HP announced our intent to acquire 3PAR five years ago and closed the acquisition in September 2010. There was a lot of press coverage because of the highly visible bidding war. It was a very bold step at the time and based on the IDC results, it clearly has paid off. I wanted to look back on these five years with a focus on innovations. 

  • In September 2011, we announced the V-class or what today is known as the 10000 series. When it was announced, it was the fastest performing high-end array in the market and brought a new class of scale, simplicity and enterprise capabilities to the industry
  • Things really starting moving forward in December 2012, when the 3PAR StoreServ 7000 was introduced. At the time it was the first midrange priced array to have all the features of a tier-1 array including quad-controller capabilities. It inherited many of the capabilities of the V-class but an affordable midrange price point and brought one operating environment and one feature set across both midrange and high-end platforms.
  • In June 2013, we launched our 3PAR all-flash array (AFA). This was a big step as many in the industry thought to take advantage of all-flash you had to design from scratch. It had those tier-1 features and this was a big advantage because many of the start-up AFA vendors lacked these data services (and still do today) yet 3PAR's performance was competitive if not better than other AFAs. 
  • December 2013 saw more innovation as we introduced 3PAR Adaptive Sparing. This gives customers 20% more free capacity with lower costs cMLC flash media without compromising endurance capabilities. And we put our “money where our mouth is” by offering a 5 year unconditional warranty on SSDs. 
  • In mid-2014, we shocked the market by introducing Thin Deduplication enabled by the 3PAR ASIC. Deduplication drives down the price of flash by removing duplicate data and dropping the usable price per GB. By the end of the 2014, HP 3PAR StoreServ AFA was the fastest growing AFA in the industry, going from #10 to #5 with over 1000% year over year growth. 
  • At HP Discover 2015 in Las Vegas, the 3PAR StoreServ 20000 series was announced. This enterprise flash storage system can deliver up to 3 million IOPs and dropped the cost of flash to $1.50/GB usable. That’s less than the cost of the fast hard disk drives today.

But wait, that’s not all!
In late August, we made another significant enhancement to the HP 3PAR family – introducing the 8000 series. Our new 3PAR 8000 family consists of four different models, all able to start in a small 2u form factor. And all are powered by the same flash-optimized architecture. This means any 8000 model can deliver all-flash performance. Three numbers that sum it up: 1 million, 19,000 and 5.5. What do these mean?

  • Up to 1 million IOPS at .387 milliseconds latency
  • The entry price for an 8000 AFA is $19,000
  • 5.5 is the number of PB (Petabytes) that fit in a single floor tile 

So now the entire 3PAR StoreServ family has been refreshed and here is what the new family looks like.

3PAR Portfolio Aug 2015 (640x360).jpg



It’s been quite a run for HP Storage over the last five years. I’ve talked about my excitement at what we’ve done. But what does the future hold? Recently I interviewed Dave Vellante from Wikibon and I think our conversation is a really good summary of my point of view. We even touched on the topic of all the startups in the industry. If you haven’t seen, I think it’s a great discussion (and I had a ton of fun). Here’s a link to it on YouTube.


Dive deeper

Here are a few sources of more information that I think you’ll find useful:


About the AuthorvExpert 5 years.png

CJZ Headshot fixed 150 x 150.jpgI'm Calvin Zito, a 33 year veteran in the IT industry and have worked in storage for 25 years. I have been a VMware vExpert for 5 years. As an early adopter of social media and active in communities, I've blogged for 7 years. I started my "social persona" as HPStorageGuy but with the coming HP separation, you can find me on Twitter as @CalvinZito. You can also contact me via email.



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About the Author


I have worked at HP and now HPE since 1983, all of it around storage but 100% focused on storage since 1990. I blog, create videos, and podcasts to help you better understand HPE Storage.


I went to the HP 3PAR Roadshow in 2011. It was a very signifigant event for me. HPE 3PAR StorServ is the best and the product line continuosly gets better.

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