HP Targets EMC In 3Par All-Flash Storage Offensive

Hewlett-Packard is hitting rival EMC hard with a broad-based 3Par all-flash storage offensive designed to take the storage leader down a notch.

HP Wednesday unleashed what it is calling the "first all-flash array certified by SAP" -- the HP 3Par StoreServ 7450 -- claiming it will run SAP HANA at 60 percent less space and power than a competitive alternative from EMC.

HP is comparing its 3Par StoreServ 7450 with SSDs with the EMC VNX7600 array configured with HDDs for a four-HANA server node, scale-up configuration.

EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., was not immediately available for comment.

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HP also moved aggressively to turn up the all-flash heat on EMC by making HP flash SSD thin deduplication software available on the complete line of HP 3Par StoreServ models, from the StoreServ 7200 to the StoreServ 10800. HP previously only offered the thin deduplication software on the 3Par all flash 7450 array.

HP's stepped-up battle against EMC comes less than a month after widespread reports that the two companies had broken off merger negotiations in what would have been one of the biggest mergers in the IT industry.

Now HP, Palo Alto, Calif., is moving aggressively to exploit what it sees as a chance to leapfrog EMC by taking a lead in the all-flash storage market.

HP said the all-flash offensive is an instant game-changer for the 3Par installed base, which will receive an additional 25 petabytes of data that can be accommodated on existing SSDs by upgrading to the free HP thin deduplication software.

"This is a give-away to our installed base customers valued at about $150 million," said HP Vice President of Storage Marketing Craig Nunes. "It is good to be an HP Storage customer."

Nunes said the broad-based thin deduplication software effort combined with a new 3Par FlashAdvisor Toolset that analyzes existing storage environments marks a turning point of sorts in the all-flash war against EMC.

HP is seeing a number of cases where customers were considering an EMC VMAX upgrade and instead chose an HP all-flash alternative, said Nunes. "We are telling those EMC customers that we can give them the same tier-one, high-end experience but in all-flash for in many cases a fraction of the cost of EMC with more predictable response time for their apps," he said. "We have absolutely stopped [EMC] deals by going into the all-flash conversation [with EMC customers]."

NEXT: HP Is Pressing Hard On EMC XtremIO Disruptive Upgrade

HP also is pressing hard on what it is referring to as a disruptive software upgrade for EMC's XtremIO flash 3.0 software. Nunes, for his part, claims the troublesome upgrade will require EMC customers to back up all their data as they upgrade software and then restore it in the new environment. "That could never fly in an SAP environment," said Nunes.

HP partners said they see the HP all-flash offensive as a turning point in the storage market-share battle with EMC.

"What we are seeing for the first time really is HP taking a leadership position in terms of innovation with flash," said Alan Bibergall, senior vice president of Chicago-based Sayers, a $100 million HP Platinum partner that is No. 185 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list. "EMC has market share across the board in traditional storage, but we see them falling behind in flash. It's kind of cool. HP has drawn a line in the sand on flash."

The market is at a flash crossroads with many customers that have bought "monolithic storage arrays from EMC for many years really getting tired of spending more and more money for the same performance," said Bibergall. "We are starting to see a shift where very traditional storage organizations are looking at different ways of addressing the storage problem. "

Bibergall said he sees the HP all-flash offerings including the SAP HANA all-flash system as a door-opener to go after EMC's position as the storage market leader.

Bibergall expects the new HP all-flash offerings will increase the sales pipeline by as much 50 percent with as much as a 25 percent to 35 percent increase in sales. "Those are big numbers, but we have a differentiation point here and we are going to exploit it," he said. "We have to."

Bibergall said he expects EMC to counter HP by offering steeper discounts and attempting to create uncertainty in the market. "EMC is getting a lot of pressure from HP and then they have got all these little all-flash storage providers nipping at their heels. EMC is going to get knocked around. Their time has come. They have owned the market for a long time."

NEXT: A Big Market Opportunity To Grab Share From EMC

Mark Dallmeier, vice president and CSO/CMO for IT Partners, a Tempe-Ariz.-based HP Platinum partner, No. 424 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said he also sees the HP all-flash offensive as a "big market opportunity" for HP to grab share from EMC by making flash mainstream.

"HP is using their R&D engine to create an innovative opportunity not just for customers, but for the channel ecosystem as well," he said. "This is an opportunity for the channel ecosystem to add value by positioning itself as a strategic adviser and at the same time get more aggressive against EMC and take share. Flash is becoming pervasive. The market is interested and wants to hear the story. Now all we have to do is show up."

Dallmeier said he expects the HP all-flash offensive to provide as much as a 30 percent to 50 percent storage sales uplift for IT Partners, which is getting two to three times more "at bats" against EMC as a result of the flash market shift. "We are seeing much more success, getting much more traction as we move to higher-level conversations around mission-critical workloads like SAP HANA."

The HP 3Par StoreServ 7450 SAP all-flash array is a particularly strong product against EMC, said Dallmeier. "Anytime you have a purpose-built stack to accelerate application deliveries like SAP HANA and the solutions around that you are going to get much better traction than selling a bolt-on technology to an existing storage array," he said. "It is moving the sales conversation up to the level where the customer really wants it."

HP is poised to gain share from EMC by innovating at both the hardware and software level in storage, said Dallmeier. "It's a no-brainer to go after EMC; they are the market-share leader," he said. "I expect HP to shake up the market over the next 12 to 18 months. The market opportunity is huge and the market is up for grabs with some of the natural market disruption happening around Cisco pulling out of the EMC VCE coalition. There is a really good market opportunity for a large, viable industry-leading company like HP to step into the market, stabilize the converged systems market, bring innovation to that market and capture more share."