I struggle to find storage related stuff to write. I find virtualization and networking topics much easier because of my network administrator roots. However, most of the real innovation that directly impact application service levels have been in storage. I’ve spent the past year coming up to speed on storage technology. I recently was invited to HP Discover by HP Storage’s social media team. Perfect opportunity to understand what’s going on with 3Par and storage in general. This post is a highlight reel of what I learned.
No future in hybrid arrays
As part of the event, HP gave bloggers access to storage product managers and executives. Manish Goel, GM of HP Storage, gave his thoughts the overall storage industry. One point that I keyed in – hybrid storage. Manish doesn’t believe there’s a long-term market for hybrid storage. Hybrid arrays combine flash and hard disk in a single array. An approach to managing the two type of storage is to provide storage tiers. Read heavy workloads that benefit from all flash could be provisioned with flash. Write heavy workloads could be provisioned with traditional HD’s. Some intelligence can be added automatically move workloads to the appropriate tier.
Goel believes the complexity of building and managing these hybrid arrays too great. Goel is of the opinion the cost of flash is dropping faster than the value of hybrid arrays is realized. I didn’t get the chance to ask the question if flash will overtake traditional HD. I infer that HP believes the all-flash array will become the standard vs. traditional or hybrid arrays. The same complexity within a hybrid array remains when taking a dual array approach. Complexity is moved to a higher-level. The complexity issue highlights a gap in HP Storage data mobility strategy.
HP Storage is about the hardware
One of the frustrating aspects about HP is the lack of end to end solutions due to their size. HP has to make a decision on which aspects of their solutions are fully integrated across platforms and groups. The HP Software group, for example, has standardized on a consistent user interface across their portfolio. It’s such an high priority that HP has created a user interface open source project. It’s impossible to have that level of focus across every discipline. One such example is data mobility.
Controlling movement of data to different tiers is a challenge. I wrote about data virtualization and the advantages of moving data across different tiers. Add to the tiers different providers and you have an even greater challenge. With all of HP’s storage and software IP you’d think there would be a focus on data mobility within HP. HP Storage is laser focused on storage infrastructure and mobility doesn’t fall within that umbrella. As a customer you have to go have a separate conversation with HP Software or HP Technical Service. (Listen to my tech talk on considering using IT vendor’s technical services)
With the focus on infrastructure comes some advantages. What should be a given was a nice surprise. HP’s mid-tier storage solution, 3Par 7000 has the same software and services of the top-tier array, the 3Par 20000. This isn’t the case with industry leader EMC. The VNX and VMAX are based on two completely different software stacks. The difference in software approach can provide management challenges for environments that have both tiers of storage.
While mentally exhausting, I’m impressed with HP’s storage approach. I’d love to see a focus on data mobility, but I now understand all of the excitement around the 3Par acquisition.