Today, during the HP Discover event here in Las Vegas, HP announced a new member of the 3PAR family: the StoreServ 7450.
As you can imagine, it’s not a completely new product but it is an evolution of the 7400, the biggest difference is that this one is a 100% flash array.

Not just flash

As you probably know, filling a traditional array up with SSDs is not a good idea: you get better performance but endurance of the SSDs and various bottlenecks can easily limit overall efficiency and reliability. Long story short, it is like having a F1 engine in a small utility car. Fortunately this is not the case of HP.

In fact, real flash arrays out there are designed keeping in mind that flash isn’t a mechanical disk, and doesn’t work that way.
Flash arrays designs range from powerful specialized hardware (but usually poor of terms of features – Violin and TMS for example) to commodity hardware architectures with customized firmwares/software (they achieve lower performance but they also are much more usable in the real world).
At a first glimpse, HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 stands somewhere in the middle taking advantage of both: it is a well balanced array with a good performance and a good set of features.

From the end user perspective

The HP StoreServ 7450 inherits the 4 controllers architecture and 4th generation ASIC of the 7400 but the software is tweaked to work with SSDs.
The benchmark shown during the press conference talks about almost 550.000 IOPS from a 48 disk machine (it’s an official SPC-1 benchmark an it will soon be available). It’s (very) good but I think that it’s not showing all the value of this product.

The real value lays in the fact that you can obtain this result on a system that has the same features you can find on any other 3PAR product: thin provisioning, snapshots, space reclamation, hypervisor/SO integrations, ease of management, multi tenancy and so on.
Last but not least, from the end user perspective, I think that Peer-Motion (a software feature that allows to transparently move data and workloads between 3PAR systems) is the icing on the cake: it means non disruptive migrations and better workloads management between your new and old 3PARs.

From the backend perspective

The software was tweaked to deal with SSDs. A long series of optimizations and enhancement to the 3PAR operating system were made to optimize writes and cache usage (but it’s not clear to me if they are also available to ordinary 3PARs). A further optimization of internal parallelisms and a better usage of the internal ASIC, that now uses DMA (Direct Memory Access) to speed up memory access on other nodes, do the rest. The SSD disks used on the systems look standard and they do not have modified firmwares.

Bottom line

You know, I like 3PAR, it’s a good family of products and I’m glad to see that it’s evolving to support new end users needs.
The fact that StoreServ 7450 runs the same exact software (and with the same features) of other 3PARs is the real value. I’m sure that you can get even more IOPS from other kind of systems but TCO is not about rough speed.
If you need to manage a complex environment with different kinds of systems and different workloads 3PAR could be a good option to evaluate, especially if you already have another 3PAR array in place.

There are a few primary vendors that are looking to SSD in the right way and HP is one of them: No platforms proliferation, same user experience, seamless migrations, that’s the way to go if you need to preserve your investments.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by HP and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than the Juku team.