HPE 3PAR Flash Storage Review

We have yet to have a disk fail, and when there is an issue support has been fantastic

What is our primary use case?

It's the main storage system, both for the primary site as well as the DR site.

We have complex business needs. Our business has multiple databases - both Oracle and SQL - an Exchange environment, Active Directory environment, websites, web servers, SharePoint. We have a variety of use cases - including development VMs for custom web apps - all being stored on 3PAR at the primary site. The DR site gets Veeam backups of the primary site, so we have the backup recovery on our other 3PAR.

How has it helped my organization?

Performance-wise it has been fantastic. 

What is most valuable?

So far, we have yet to have a disk fail on either system, other than one I forced to fail when we first got the system in. So the reliability of the 3PAR system has been outstanding. We've had maybe one controller go bad, but not enough to bring the whole system down. It was just random, maybe a degraded state, until HPE Support came and fixed it, and they have been fantastic.

What needs improvement?

In terms of features I'd like to see, I have been hearing a lot about InfoSight with the 3PAR, here at HPE Discover 2018. I'd be curious to see some of the additions that will bring to the system. We're fairly up to date, so we should easily be able to utilize some of it, once it's available. I know that came from the Nimble platform, so they are still integrating it in.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

With the uptime and reliability, it's been rock solid so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We just added an SSD tier to it, so we're even leveraging that. We literally have three tiers of storage, SSD, fast class storage, and a slower storage state.

We haven't had needed to do much, other than add the SSD tier, at this point. Normally, we try to guess at our storage needs for about a five-year turnaround time, and then from there we usually buy another storage system to replace at that point. I don't know if we'll go to that model, with the 3PAR. It has been so rock solid that I might look into just extending support on it. So it may save us money on storage systems in the long run.

How are customer service and technical support?

HPE support has been great.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to have a Dell EqualLogic storage system prior to this one. On the phone, with support, they managed to tell us to do something that caused the whole system to come down. That was one of the determining factors to go completely away from anything Dell had their hands in and go with something else.

In our research, as much as I tried to look on the web to find anything negative about 3PAR, I couldn't find it. I found negatives about every other storage system we could find, but not on the 3PAR.

Among the most important criteria for us when evaluating a vendor is support. Support is always a concern. We don't have that many IT staff, so we do rely on vendor support and we usually keep the maintenance up on all of all our main equipment. So having a decent support relationship with vendors is critical.

How was the initial setup?

Setup was pretty straightforward. We attended a week-long training with HPE onsite. Other than that, we've been able to manage it ourselves, for the most part. If there are any issues, we just call them in to support and work over the phone with them.

I believe they did most of the install in one day. They came out for two days or three days, but the majority of it was done - the initial racking - in one day; maybe some finalizations on the second day. It didn't take long.

What was our ROI?

We definitely see ROI. The price point for the 3PAR was actually cheaper than the other storage systems we were looking at. From just the initial cost perspective, it was already cheaper. From what I can tell working with the other storage systems we've worked with - we've had EMC, we've had EqualLogic on the Dell side, and we have even had older Dell storage over the years - there is no comparison between our 3PAR system and the rest of them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When we were initially looking we priced out some IBM storage, obviously Compellent, some Dell stuff, EqualLogic. Realistically, we didn't want to go back with EqualLogic, mainly due to support.

With the Dells, they were telling us we could upgrade it, firmware and everything else on it, and we said, "No, we're going to hold off until we get another storage system in place and then we'll try that." When we migrated to the 3PAR, we went ahead and did a full upgrade on the Dell EqualLogic. It lost blocks, it lost about 12 drives, and I was thankful that we didn't actually need that data. We left the data on it while we did the upgrade just to see, following Dell support recommendations, what it would have done. Had we listened to them, we would have had, probably, multiple hours trying to figure out what data was actually misplaced, lost; and it had no way of telling us where it lost blocks. 

So from that perspective, we were nervous about doing a 3PAR upgrade which we did recently. We made sure all our backups were off of it prior to doing it. It had no problems during the upgrade, except that one card wouldn't upgrade, and they had to replace it. But there was no issue affecting any data, which is the primary purpose of having a storage system.

What other advice do I have?

You couldn't go wrong with the 3PAR system.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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