The all-flash market is full of startups that have captured the attention of IT planners in data centers of all sizes. Now HP is out to get that attention back with their 7450 All-Flash Array. Many of these startup companies came to market intent on solving some of the problems that made all-flash storage systems seem like a crazy idea. The most common issue, of course, was cost, so companies added capabilities like thin provisioning, deduplication, compression and clones (writable snapshots) to maximize all-flash capacity consumption.
Another concern was making sure the “system” that surrounds the all-flash media could deliver the performance that this low latency storage technology could produce. The start-up all-flash array vendors claimed that the legacy vendors could not drive flash pricing down to the point that it would be attractive to the enterprise data center. They also claimed that these vendors’ storage systems, built on 10-year-old architectures, would not be able to keep up with the dramatic performance levels of all-flash arrays.
To some extent the startups were right. Many of the legacy vendors didn’t price flash aggressively, at least not at first. They were also slow to incorporate deduplication and/or compression into their storage systems – and many still have not done so. But this isn’t the case with HP 3PAR. When HP acquired 3PAR a few years ago, it was already a next generation architecture. And while it may not have been specifically designed for flash it certainly had the raw potential to fully exploit flash’s performance advantages.
HP sees this as the third phase in the development of the flash market. The first phase was the incorporation of flash as a tiered or a caching layer within legacy enterprise class arrays. But these systems only offered limited acceleration because of a shortage of flash resources and the limitations of the architecture.
The second phase was the emergence of ‘niche’ storage systems that were all-flash, but generally targeted to address a specific use case like VDI or databases. These systems also had a limited amount of capacity and fell short when meeting the enterprise demand for resiliency. HP believes that the time for the next phase is now. Phase three is a storage system that is affordable but still provides enterprise class reliability and availability so that all applications can be accelerated.
HP’s StoreServ 7450 All-Flash Array provides a predictable performance with less than 1ms response time, a number not achievable with sub-LUN auto-tiering or caching. It meets a $2/GB usable price point, thanks to deduplication, something of a record for a tier-1 vendor. At the same time it delivers both synchronous and asynchronous replication, as well as multi-controller data availability, and HP guarantees a six 9s (99.9999%) availability.
HP’s deduplication, which gets them to the $2 per GB price point, is inline and done via hardware so there’s no performance or scale penalty. HP also has a feature called “intelligent sparing” that reduces the cost per GB without sacrificing endurance. This capability allows them to provide 20% more usable capacity per drive via their patented Adaptive Sparing technology.
Assuming an environment that could take advantage of deduplication, the $2 per GB (usable) is an impressive price point considering this product is from a name brand, tier-1 storage vendor. Combine that price point with 3PAR’s rich history of data services and you have a compelling all-flash array. While HP’s competitors aren’t going to stand still, the 7450 should probably be on your short list.