HP Intros Flash-Optimized 3PAR Array, Virtual Dedupe Appliance

HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 all-flash array

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday unveiled one of the largest-ever refreshes of its storage technology with a host of new hardware and software products including its first-ever all-flash storage array optimized for flash technology.

The releases, unveiled at the HP Discover 2013 conference, held this week in Las Vegas, also include a virtual version of the HP StoreOnce deduplication appliance as well as a new LTO-based tape library that scales to up to 3.5 petabytes.

The new storage offerings will continue the momentum that HP's 3PAR line has been building, said Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HP partner.

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"This will go far in helping HP to start recapturing its storage market share," Baldwin said.

David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of HP's Enterprise Group, cited three major trends impacting the storage business, including converged infrastructure, the cloud and software-defined data centers.

"All three trends are important," Donatelli said. "All three will change the infrastructure. And in all three, HP is leading."

For instance, Donatelli said, HP in its most recent quarter saw a 48-percent year-over-year growth in converged storage product solutions, with its HP 3PAR storage business growing 82 percent.

Furthermore, he said. HP is the only company shipping products in all the core components of the software-defined data center.

For HP, the new storage releases come at a critical time.

HP is still the world's second-largest storage manufacturer when counting storage sold both external and internal to servers, and the company has traditionally relied on its strength as a server vendor to open the door for its storage.

However, that is changing as HP's server and storage business both have taken hits recently.

Gartner late last month reported that HP's first-quarter server shipments plummeted 15.2 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012. That lead to a 10.9 percent drop in HP's server revenue to $2.6 billion.

Because of the strong ties between server and storage sales, HP's storage business also took a hit. IDC last week estimated HP's first-quarter storage revenue at $1.2 billion, a 17.4 percent drop in revenue over last year.

NEXT: HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450, HP's First Flash-optimized Array

Topping HP's Tuesday storage news is the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450, HP's first all-flash storage array optimized specifically for flash technology.

This is not the first time HP has offered a 3PAR all-flash array. The company last August released an all-SSD option for its 3PAR P10000 storage array. However, unlike that model, the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 is optimized for flash technology from the ground-up.

HP's Donatelli said the flash storage market today has no one solution that combines the performance, efficiency, and endurance required of flash technology with a rich management software layer.

While established storage vendors have the software capabilities, their flash storage offerings have been the result of acquisitions, he said. Startups, on the other hand, have the performance but have not yet developed a software stack.

"You leave customers with a choice: Take a slow device with software or a fast device without the software functionality," he said.

David Scott, senior vice president and general manager for HP storage, said that with its 3PAR line, HP's approach has been to offer a common architecture from the top of the line down to its entry-level 3PAR 7000 series, which were released in December.

"The 7000 series ... combined has been the fastest-growing storage product in HP history," Scott said."

The new HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 fits into that common architecture, Scott said.

However, it was designed specifically with flash optimization in mind, featuring a new hardware-accelerated controller along with technology to optimize the latency, flushing and caching of the flash media to provide over 550,000 IOs per second with under 0.7-millisecond response time, he said.

The 7450 also includes hardware-accelerated thin provisioning and deduplication to cut capacity by up to 50 percent without impacting performance, and it features a quad-controller architecture for disaster recovery and resiliency purposes, he said.

Inside the 7450 is support for data-at-rest encryption, snapshots and rapid recovery in Microsoft Hyper-V environments, as well as support for the OpenStack Cinder block storage protocol, which Scott said lets it be integrated into HP and other cloud solutions.

HP also enhanced its HP 3PAR StoreServ family with updates to its software including the addition of an active-active stretch cluster option and a 16-Gbit Fibre Channel version of its StoreFabric SAN infrastructure software.

NEXT: Assessing The Impact Of The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450

The 7450 is a really exciting addition to HP's storage line, Nth's Baldwin said.

"It's going to exceed what's out there from all those startups," Baldwin said. "We finally have an all-flash array from a major manufacturer. This beats all the guys that add flash to existing arrays."

Baldwin said he expects HP to be extremely price competitive with the startups given the vendor's history with the channel.

"Most of the other guys, the startups, are not very aggressive on discounts," he said. "But HP storage products, under the company's Value Express pricing, which is based on things like capacity, features strong discounts. We could get very aggressive."

While 3PAR was an expensive storage line when HP acquired 3PAR, HP has since aggressively cut that storage line's pricing, Baldwin said.

"We're winning most deals today," he said. "It's exciting to have a product like this. It will hold well in this market because HP is the first major manufacturer to do this. A lot of people would rather go with an established manufacture for these products."

Also debuting at HP Discover is the HP StoreOnce VSA (virtual storage appliance), a virtual appliance version of the company's HP StoreOnce line of deduplication backup appliances.

The HP StoreOnce VSA features a common architecture with the company's entire line of StoreOnce hardware appliances as well as with the StoreOnce technology built into HP's Data Protector backup software, HP's Scott said. This allows customers to replicate data to anywhere in their data center without first "rehydrating" the deduped data.

The HP StoreOnce VSA is a multi-tenant solution that allows solution providers to build a backup-as-a-service offering, Scott said. It also works in multi-office solutions, or for small businesses, he said.

Baldwin said the HP StoreOnce VSA shows that HP is carrying out on its promise to modularize its offerings, making it suitable as a software-defined storage solution and possibly as a plug-in module for HP's new Project Moonshot modular servers.

"I'll be interested in seeing if HP can run enough different functions like the StoreOnce VSA on a single Moonshot, making it a complete data center," he said. "Sure, it will have external storage. But if you can run server operations with storage and networking on a single chassis, it will be big with customers."

New Backup Software, Midrange Tape Library From HP

Also new from HP Tuesday is Data Protector 8, a new version of HP's data backup and recovery software.

Data Protector 8 includes bandwidth throttling and support for the HP StoreOnce VSA, scalability to up to 1 trillion file names, and automatic failover, HP's Scott said.

He also introduced the HP StoreEver MSL 6480 tape library, a new midrange library featuring up to 42 LTO tape drives and up to 560 slots, with a capacity of up to 81 TB per 1U of rack space.

The MSL 6480 also offers up to 60.4 TB-per-hour throughput, and includes the Linear Tape File System, or LTFS, which allows files on tape to be accessed as if they were stored on disk, he said.

"Tape is not dead," he said. "Tape continues to be an architecture that provides the best reliability and resilience."