Since 2012, there have been three constants in DCIG’s world: death, taxes and an HP 3PAR StoreServ storage array model coming out on top in its Midrange Array Buyer’s Guides. In each of the three (3) Buyer’s Guides focused on the topic of Midrange Arrays produced in that time, HP 3PAR StoreServ arrays have consistently ranked well with the HP 3PAR F400 coming out on top in 2012, the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7400 in 2013 and the latest 7440c nailing the top spot in the 2015-16 Buyer’s Guide.
To accomplish these feats, HP had to do more than simply put more powerful hardware into its arrays. HP had to merge disk and flash media, offer software that today’s highly virtualized infrastructures require and deliver these in a way that satisfied today’s enterprise demands. The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c does so by offering features that represent what enterprises most want midrange arrays to deliver now.
HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c Proves that ASICs Matter by Unlocking Flash’s Potential
The HP 3PAR StoreServ platform introduced its architecture in the early 2000’s when hard disk drives (HDDs) were the primary storage media used in midrange arrays. Fast forward to today and both HDDs and solid state drives (SSDs) are deployed.
To effectively manage the idiosyncrasies of both media, the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c array takes the following steps. For every drive, it recognizes all available capacity on the HDDs in its system and breaks it into chunklets. Using these chunklet, it then creates virtual volumes that span all HDDs (and SSDs). This especially helps to improve HDD performance while expediting the recovery of failed HDDs.
To deliver on the increased performance that SSDs offer, HP 3PAR StoreServ introduced more powerful processors and higher throughput storage networking interfaces as well as updated its software to manage SSDs’ idiosyncrasies. In doing so, the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c differentiated itself from competitors in the following ways.
Many competitive storage arrays solely use Intel-based processors to handle their storage processing needs. While this takes advantage of Moore’s Law by doubling processor performance about once every 18 months, Intel-based processors currently have limited to no awareness of data packets nor have they implemented deduplication that would help to make the broader deployments of SSDs within organizations more economical.
The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c does use Intel-based processors for some tasks it performs. However, it also use a unique application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) that is specifically configured and optimized for storage processing. The 3PAR ASIC is programmatically updated in the 7440c to manage the idiosyncrasies of SSDs and take better advantage of their performance features.
The ASIC complements the native wear-leveling algorithms found inside SSDs to help extend their lives. Using the HP 3PAR’s chunklet technology, the ASIC spreads write-intensive blocks of data across SSDs in the system so a single SSD is never overwhelmed with too many writes that would cause it to quickly wear out. The ASIC also optimizes SSD storage capacity through its use of thin deduplication by inspecting each data packet as it passes through the system and making the necessary calculations to deduplicate the data. Due to the techniques it employs to perform deduplication, it accomplishes this with minimal to no impact to application performance.
To further deliver on the performance that SSDs have to offer, the 7440c has a mesh active controller architecture that uses four (4) controllers. These provide high bandwidth, low latency interconnects between each other and to the back end HDDs and/or SSDs. The 7440c takes full advantage of this high bandwidth by spreading writes out across all drives using its wide striping technology. This serves to help SSDs wear more evenly, achieve a longer life and collectively provide the performance boost that organizations expect from SSDs.
By taking all of these steps the 7440c gives organizations the flexibility to effectively use the characteristics of both HDDs and flash. Unlike all-flash arrays that must keep all data on flash, the 7440c recognizes aging and infrequently accessed data residing on flash and can either move it off to disk or even another HP 3PAR array (assuming there is another HP 3PAR array in the environment.)
Forging Ahead with Proven and New Technologies
The flexibility to implement both HDDs and SSDs in a single array is functionality that the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c distinguishes itself from competitors in how it manages them. However media management alone did not push the 7440c to the top of the DCIG 2015 Midrange Array Buyer’s Guides. Rather, it was its robust software features.
Like the other models in the 7000 series including the all-flash 7450c, the latest 7440c simplifies storage management, optimizes available storage capacity and accelerates storage performance. Options such as automated storage tiering, deduplication, and priority optimization, to name just a few, have put the 7440c at the forefront of midrange arrays. Collectively these features have contributed to DCIG ranking its array management and virtualization features as “Best-in-Class” in prior DCIG Midrange Array Buyer’s Guides.
Further, HP is not resting on its laurels as it continues to bring forward features to add to the 7440c’s versatility. Features that HP recently introduced to continue to make it practical for organizations to implement the 7440c more easily include:
HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440’s Top Ranking Stems from Its Alignment with What Organizations Most Need Today
DCIG gave the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c high marks in its 2015-16 Enterprise Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide due, in large part, to how well its features align with what organizations need today. Its scalability and mesh active controller architecture position the 7440c particularly well to meet the ever increasing performance demands that enterprises place upon midrange arrays while also offering the flexibility of adding HDDs as needed, Yet what is even more impressive about the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c are its array management software and high levels of integration with VMware.
As organizations continue to strive to become ever more “lean and mean” by asking their IT staff to manage an ever more virtualized environment, it is software that easily, effectively and efficiently utilizes and manages the underlying midrange array hardware that differentiates the best from the rest. In this area, HP 3PAR StoreServ 7440c has outpaced its competitors which is reflected by its #1 ranking in the recent DCIG 2015-16 Enterprise Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide.