3PAR Offers High-End Storage at Low Price

InServ E200 provides affordable scalability for departmental environments

3PARdatas midrange InServ E200 augments the companys existing lineup of efficient, high-performance storage systems with affordable scalability for branch office and departmental environments.

Built on the same InSpire architecture as 3PARs higher-end InServ S400 and S800 X-series storage systems, the E200 preserves all the load balancing and flexibility of 3PARs granular, clustered framework.

The E200 supports as many as eight 3U (5.25-inch) drive chassis holding 16 drives each. Fully loaded with 128 drives, maximum raw capacity is just over 63TB.

A pair of 4U (7-inch) controller nodes is united with storage over a passive full-mesh backplane.

A 2.8GHz Intel Xeon CPU handles control information (metadata), while a dedicated 3Par ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) processes XOR (exclusive or) calculations for RAID.

The base E200 can be expanded with as many as 12 Fibre Channel ports and four iSCSI ports.

3PAR provides either a 1 or 2 meter-tall cabinet to house the E200. A third-party 19-inch rack-mount option is available as well. Hardware availability is protected with redundant power supplies and fans.

An entry-level E200 starts at $75,000. This price includes 2.3TB of raw storage capacity and 3PARs InForm Suite, comprising the InForm operating system with rapid provisioning, security and cloning for volumes.

The entry-level configuration also will get you four Fibre Channel host ports, system installation, training, three years of software support and a three-year hardware warranty.

Storage virtualization

Central to 3PARs recipe for simple and flexible storage provisioning is the utility storage-based virtualization built into the InForm operating system.

Under this system, physical disks are broken down into what 3PAR calls "chunklets." These chunklets, each of which is 256MB, are automatically arranged into groups of differing performance levels.

For example, preferred chunklets are culled from faster FC disks and favored based on their location on physical media; chunklets on outer tracks with higher-sector density are reserved for high-performance use; and chunklets on higher-capacity, lower-cost nearline storage systems are set aside for less demanding workloads.

Volumes can be configured with RAID 0-, 10- or 50-level protection.

The InForm operating system GUI supplies predefined templates for a range of service levels. With 3PARs optional Dynamic Optimization software, IT managers can transition among RAID types and service levels on the fly without any downtime.

The E200s 10K RPM FC drives come in 147GB or 300GB sizes. IT managers also have the option of using slower yet more affordable 7,200 RPM 500GB nearline FC disks.

Unlike the S400 and S800 models, which assemble drives into magazines to achieve greater storage density, the hard drives on the E200 are all accessible from the front.

Another appealing option is 3PARs thin-provisioning capability, which is based on the idea that allocated storage that goes unused is wasteful. Thin provisioning sidesteps this inefficiency by consuming only physical capacity that is being used.

Virtual Copy, 3PARs snapshot technology, follows suit by taking up only as much space for virtual copies as its thin-provisioned volumes require. Up to 500 virtual copies are supported per volume.

Also, either read/write or read-only permission can be assigned to the virtual copies for testing and development purposes.

In addition to the standard InForm operating system GUI, IT managers can issue commands over a command-line interface. Telnet and SSH (Secure Shell) are supported, as is scripting.

The 3PAR system also adheres to SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative-Specification), a vendor-agnostic open management standard that provides device discovery, health monitoring and management functionality.

Technical Analyst Victor Loh can be reached at victor_loh@ziffdavis.com.


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