It was slightly over five years ago that Hewlett-Packard became embroiled in a bidding war with Dell for then-independent 3PAR Storage, ultimately winning the war at a price of $2.35 billion.
It was all well worth it for HP. 3PAR has become the premier storage brand for the company in the years since. In fact, the 3PAR storage division has been one of the corporation's steadiest revenue-earners during those five years—which generally have been tough ones overall.
Dell came out of the skirmish okay, too. Undeterred, the Austin, Texas-based IT giant found Minnesota's Compellent a few months later and bought it for about $960 million. Compellent promptly became Dell's top storage seller.
Now, under the flag of a new, smaller corporate entity in Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), the 3PAR storage division on Nov. 16 unveiled StoreServ Storage solutions to help enterprises accelerate moves to all-flash data centers. HPE has also whittled down SKUs by integrating 3PAR StoreServ with new HPE StoreOnce and HPE StoreEver product lines.
Yes, all-flash data centers are on the way in; this was something unthinkable just a few years ago. The mounting influx of business data from sensors and handheld devices has driven the need for enterprises to move faster, and flash enables all data to move faster than hard drives. This is driving trends such as IT-as-a-service and the growth of data analytics, which circle back to drive more adoption of flash storage.
Industry researcher IDC and others have reported that flash-based arrays are, in fact, helping drive the move to faster enterprise-class data services, which include snapshots, clones, encryption, replication, and quality of service. HPE 3PAR StoreServ has long featured all these data services in starter systems that cost less than $20,000.
On Nov. 16, HPE introduced several new 3PAR StoreServ products and services:
--3PAR Flash Acceleration for Oracle: This is an HPE validated package that boosts database performance while enabling legacy systems, such as EMC VMAX to remain in place.
--3PAR Online Import software: A free 12-month license for customers looking to move off hard-disk-drive-bound legacy storage using a five-step migration path from EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and now IBM XIV storage.
--Support for 3D NAND drives: Support for this new solid-state drive (SSD) technology enables customers to accelerate application performance with a low incremental investment. Intel and Micron introduced this earlier this year.
"The reason we're taking this path is that, if you look at a lot of these high-end database environments, they are often challenged with a lot of performance tuning, high costs, and so on, and it's not so easy to come in and rip and replace that infrastructure," Vish Mulchand, HPE director of storage product marketing, told eWEEK.
"So, for example, how do you grow a constrained VMAX environment without a lot of disruption to a customer site? Using Oracle ASM Preferred Reads, we can insert a flash array; then, using ASM to query both the VMAX and the flash array, Oracle ASM can redirect reads to the faster storage device."
HPE has seen a 75 percent increase in IOPS (input/output operations per second) and a sixfold reduction in latency by taking this approach, Mulchand said.
StoreServ Storage features a flash-optimized design that supports both file and block storage as well as a secondary tier of hard-disk drives. Using this architecture, HPE also introduced what it calls the 3PAR StoreServ 8200 Converged File and Block Starter Kit. HPE also released several reference architectures for 3PAR StoreServ Storage that address Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and SharePoint environments as well as HPE software solutions for information management.
Don't forget that HPE still sells virtual tape systems; a lot of companies still use this for cold storage and legal requirement. HPE has refreshed its lineup of StoreEver LTO-7 media, drives and automated libraries. Pairing high-performance 3PAR StoreServ flash arrays with these new StoreEver Tape offerings gives customers the ability to deploy a "tape as NAS" solution to simply and access bulk archives on tape as if they were on disk.
The new HPE storage arrays, software and services will become available at various times between Dec. 17 and the end of January. Go here for more information.