Storage Station

A bird's eye view of the data storage industry.

3PAR Keeps Coming Up with Ace Products

3PAR, a high-quality utility and cloud storage vendor with a loyal enterprise client base, often is overlooked by the media because a) it doesn't have the name-brand recognition of Dell, EMC or NetApp, and b) there's such a numbers game going on in the sector right now.

What does that mean? In athletics, for example, team coaches often refer to "the numbers game" when they have too many good players at one position. Somebody has to sit on the bench, and sometimes it's not the right guy. That's kind of how 3PAR sits right now; it has excellent quality products and good word-of-mouth reputation, but average to below average name recognition.

That may be changing soon.

3PAR keeps coming up with impressive new products. It unabashedly describes its InServ T400 and T800 storage servers, introduced several days ago, as "the world's most powerful virtualized arrays," according Craig Nunes, 3PAR's personable marketing veep, a somewhat biased observer in this case but one with a lot of industry credibility nonetheless.

So why is this the world's most powerful array? "It's the first array to have thin provisioning built right into the silicon," Nunes told me.

Thin provisioning is a very efficient method of storage resource management and virtualization that lets IT administrators limit the allocation of actual physical storage to what applications immediately need. It enables the automatic addition of capacity on demand up to preset limits, so that IT departments can avoid buying and managing excessive amounts of disk storage.

Having this control feature built right into the chip enables the software that used to have to do that work to give up its bandwidth and allow the processor to focus on other things, improving overall I/O performance.

This is the start of a trend. No doubt we're going to be seeing a lot more of this; payloads are not going to get any lighter anytime soon.

The new InServ T800 recorded SPC (Storage Performance Council) benchmark results of more than 224,000 IOPS, an SPC-1 performance record. This was double the performance of the previous generation of InServ arrays and made it the fastest single-system storage array according to published results on file with the SPC, Nunes said.

Equally impressive was that the SPC recorded an 83 percent capacity utilization in the new array -- without any complex configuration or performance tuning.

3PAR specializes in what's called utility/grid/cloud storage, a category of highly virtualized, tightly clustered and dynamically tiered storage arrays built for cloud computing.

A large number of storage companies are in their first- and second-generation product builds; 3PAR is way ahead of that curve. These new storage servers use an architecture that features 3PAR's Gen3 ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) with integrated fat-to-thin processing. With the delivery of these new T-Class arrays, 3PAR becomes the first vendor -- ahead of NetApp, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, everybody -- to incorporate these silicon-based efficiencies directly into its hardware.

Pretty impressive. Go here for more info on the new 3PAR arrays.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...