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Why HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 is getting more attention than usual


Ivan.jpegBy Ivan Iannaccone , HP 3PAR StoreServ Product Management


In June at HP Discover, HP announced that we lowered the cost of the all-flash HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage array to less than $2 per usable gigabyte. This news has been very well received by customers and the industry. Coincidentally, Pure Storage subsequently published a blog post containing a comparison table demonstrating perceived advantages of its all-flash array over HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage system. We think this deserves a response.


So why has HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 been getting so much attention lately?

The table included in the blog post, as its footnote states, provides information based on the “best of Pure Storage’s knowledge.” We get that. We don’t feel that Pure Storage is deliberately misrepresenting our technology. But it’s pretty clear to us that they don’t have a thorough understanding of the HP 3PAR StoreServ architecture and how we are addressing customers’ requirements. So we’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.


We welcome the opportunity to talk more about how HP 3PAR architecture is flash-optimized and what that means, and agree with their assessment that the all-flash HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 is a competitive threat for Pure Storage. Now let’s take a closer look at some of the claims that Pure Storage is making and why we take issue with them.


Claim #1: HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 cannot deliver “HA with no performance loss” but Pure can

To understand what it means to have high availability (HA) without performance loss, it’s first important to understand what HA is. With primary storage, high availability (and resiliency) is a given. Storage is where data resides. There is no debate on whether the availability of that data or the resiliency needed to access that data 24x7 is critical. To this point, HP 3PAR StoreServ arrays offers not just hardware and software redundancy and fault tolerance, but also a rich set of high availability features:




But since Pure Storage’s claim isn’t just about HA itself but actually about performance, let’s take a look at some additional features that our HP 3PAR StoreServ customers enjoy today in the context of HA and performance:




With its unique combination of persistent technologies and other HP 3PAR features listed above, HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 not only offers a superior HA architecture when compared to the competition, but it also meets a broader set of use cases when it comes to “HA with no performance loss.”


Claim #2: Pure Storage couples deduplication with compression (To what end?)

The second point we’d like to examine is Pure Storage’s claim around the superiority of pairing deduplication and compression for price reduction. Pure does have half of this equation correct: what matters to you is indeed the cost of the solution. But when it comes to calculating storage efficiency, HP takes into consideration a number of factors, such as the $/GB usable, $/GB raw, customer provisioning behaviors and capacity reclamation cycles. This may be achieved via compression, deduplication and intelligent use of SSDs. The reality is that in environments suitable for compression techniques like databases, we can achieve on average a 2:1 compaction ratio. In environments suitable for deduplication techniques like virtual servers, and we can achieve 4:1 to 10:1 or higher. The bottom line is: when it comes to capacity reduction technologies, HP 3PAR StoreServ offers solutions at less than $2/GB usable—which is significantly lower than what is advertised by Pure Storage.* This economic advantage makes any technology claims about the availability of deduplication and compression irrelevant.


Claim #3: Pure questions whether or not the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 delivers flash-optimized data and metadata

The HP 3PAR StoreServ architecture features a Mesh-Active cluster and a highly virtualized operating system that make the optimal use of flash-based media. We have been working on flash-optimization and optimized data layout since we first supported flash in 2009. Since then, every new hardware generation and OS version have benefited from new features and innovations.



We’ve even dedicated an entire technical white paper on this topic: HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage: optimized for flash. We also have a technical white paper on the array architecture as a whole: HP 3PAR StoreServ Architecture.


We (and many other storage geeks) have been looking for a publicly available technical architectural white paper from Pure Storage, but have been unable to locate it among the collateral on the Pure Storage website. Perhaps it got lost in their marketing department?


Claim #4: All-Inclusive software pricing is a competitive advantage for Pure

The response to this claim is similar to that of the compression/deduplication claim. What is important is the overall cost of the solution. Does all-inclusive software pricing matter if the overall Pure solution is 2x the price of the 3PAR StoreServ? When we state $2/GB Useable, it includes a comparable software configuration to Pure’s all-inclusive. For example, we include licenses for replication software, snapshots and much more in the $2/GB Useable configuration.


Setting the record straight

If after reading this post, anyone still has further doubts, we will be happy to speak with you directly at the Flash Memory Summit or at VMworld, where we will be announcing more game-changing news for new and existing HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage customers. We would especially like to hear from Pure Storage customers, so come join us at the HP booth to talk more about high availability, data efficiency and flash-optimization!


Can’t wait? You can also reach out to us directly via Twitter: @ivaniannaccone and @Priyadarshi_Pd. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have and explain how HP 3PAR StoreServ architecture makes the most of flash.




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Good morning,


There is no argument when comparing the uptime of SSDs to HDD in a production environment.


SSDs use NAND flash memory, and NAND flash memory of the single-level cell variety generally delivers 50,000 program/erase cycles. Flash of the multi-level cell variety -- the kind used in consumer-level products -- wears out after about 5,000 cycles. What level of MTBF should we expect from the SSDs deployed with the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450?


I'm only asking to conclude my overall calculations and contengencies.



Waleed Alzuhair

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Waleed, HP/3Par has a fine-grained wide-striping write technology that ensures that all data is effectively and pseudo-randomly spread across every drive of a given type in the entire array (no groupings, no islands, no pools, no limitations).  This is foundational within 3Par, for all disk types, but it turns out that when you apply it to SSD/Flash drives, a happy side effect is that the wear-out timeframes get greatly extended for all SSDs as a matter of course - this just happens as the array operates normally, and the process ensures that 3Par SSDs OF ALL TYPES will not suffer from any form of premature wear-out or early mortality rates.


To back up this claim, HP is the first (and only, as far as I know) array vendor to offer an unlimited 5-year warranty on all 3Par-based SSD drives.  Period.  HP's lab work and calculations showed that even cMLC drives - when 3Par wide-striping is applied - will not be consumed until sometime approaching or in year 6, in worst-case write scenarios.  Since only lab experiments actually end up with these types of worst-case write scenarios, only a tiny handful of customers out of the tens of thousands of 3Par customers would ever even get close to wearing out their SSD drives, and even they will not be able to do so until after year 5.  The vast majority of customers will actually not be seeing SSD wear-out until year 8-10, with typical usage and data patterns.


Note that even within HP, this 5-year unlimited SSD warranty is ONLY available on SSDs in 3Par arrays, for the reasons I mentioned earlier - other HP arrays and PC-based SSDs are only offered with the same 3-year warranty that other vendors offer across the board. 


The extremely even use that all SSD drives get due to the extreme fine-grain wide-stripe write patterns that are foundational to how all 3Par arrays have always worked means that the "all drives of a given type particpate in all write and read operations" technology and functionality give 3Par absolute top performance out of HDDs, and do the same for SSDs even as it greatly extends the life of all SSDs in the array.


In another "hey, wait, we can do ANOTHER thing with SSDs that nobody else can!" realization, the 3Par guys also discovered that they can use the distributed spare space inherent with all 3Par arrays (wide-striped, evenly spread spare space that is set aside within the space of each type of drives) to boost the usable capacity available frmo each 3Par-based SSD by roughly 20%, such that the 1.6TB drive that all array vendors now sell is actually sold as (and presents) 1.92TB when used in 3Par arrays. 


Even other HP arrays and PC-based SSDs can only present 1.6TB total space out of these SSD drives, because only within 3Par (with the ultra-evenly distributed spare space) can the additional spare space reserved within all SSD drives be presented out to the array as usable data space.  Before you think HP is playing games here, this is WITH THE 5-YEAR UNLIMITED WARRANTY in place - this is both real and HP is putting their money where their mouth is, backing what they say with the industries best warranty for SSD drives of all types, SLC, MLC and cMLC (all types used in 3Par, at least).


This is part of HP's basis for claiming leadership within the SSD space, and the "All Flash Array" space as well.  HP/3Par can do things with SSDs that other vendors can only dream of and wish for.  It's likely that other vendors will eventually cobble together some hokey add-on scheme that will let them make the extra 20% space available to their arrays - very likely at a performance cost - but that's for the future.  For right now, HP and 3Par are the only ones who can work this magic, and offer the 5-year SSD warranty to prove that this is no game, no pretend, and zero concern to customers who choose to deploy SSD via 3Par arrays.


Don't even get me started on why HP 3Par is the only array that offers a SIX nines of availability guarantee - 6 nines is 32 seconds of downtime a year - not even long enough to turn on or restart any array I've ever met... meaning that HP backs "no outages" per year with a guarantee - the only vendor to offer such.  That we'll save for another day.

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