Watch the full video review here
What is most valuable?
One of the things that I really liked about the 3PAR solution, going back to the architecture, is its unified architecture for their entire suite of products. Companies like NetApp and EMC, have a very broad spectrum of products, but as you go through their portfolio, the way that they're managed, the way that their team would have to interact with our product, it differs. So I was looking for a platform that would allow us to scale, because as we know, data is not becoming less and less. It's increasing. So if some day we need to increase the SAN that we have right now. I feel very comfortable that if I was to choose another product within the 3PAR suite, that my team could get it off and running off the ground very quickly
Flash as a solution for us was very obvious. Reason being, as I mentioned before, we're very data intensive. For the longest time, disc has been our bottleneck in our processing service, in our processing capabilities. With flash, we have no concerns. So it's been a very, very great and positive experience for us
How has it helped my organization?
We've seen a huge improvement in processing times and coming from a traditional SAN over to the HP 3PAR all flash solution, we saw about a 90 percent reduction in the processing time to some of the batch processors that we were running, which for us is very, very huge.
What needs improvement?
I would like to see a little bit more of automated reporting. As an IT director, I would like to get a better view, high level view of how the environment is performing instead of having to go and ask my guys. That would be my only future request.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Oh, it's been incredible stability. Here's an anecdote. The solution we were on before was a dual controller solution which is kind of a misnomer because the way that the system balances itself, if you have any controller that's running a bit higher than the other, say, 50, 60 percent, and one controller goes down, well, that one controller now has to take the additional load from the other controller. So what we realized at one point was, we had a controller that had to do down for maintenance, and during that maintenance window, we had some performance issues, because the one controller had to pick up the load for the other controller, and it caused our environment to run slower than we would have liked
With the 3PAR solution, it's a four controller system, a four node system. It load balances very well. It actually does it automatically for us. Something that my team had to struggle with actually, with the EMC solution. So for us, it's been great. We've been doing maintenance upgrades on the solution with little to no impact at all on the environment. So it's been very stable for us.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I would say it's very scalable. I mean, we're not at the point now where we've had to increase the size of our SAN. But from what I've seen on paper and my discussions with the HP engineers, we're very comfortable that we're in a good spot for the next three to five years, with the solution that we selected. However, we know that if we need to move to a higher tier of a solution, that we'll feel comfortable in bringing another product in because of the flexibility the seamless transition from one platform in the 3PAR lineup to another.
How are customer service and technical support?
The feedback I've received from the team is that they've been very responsive, very attentive to the questions that they've had. Very responsive to any problems that we had initially rolling out. I mean, problems just a little bit of growing pains and try to understand. It's a little bit than where we came from, but over the past few months, we've been running with the solution, it's been great.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We were previously using EMC. We looked at EMC, obviously, with the XtremIO product. We looked a little bit at NetApp. We haven't had a previous relationship with them, so we didn't look too deeply into it. And then we also obviously looked at HP 3PAR.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
In the business that we're in, we deal with a lot of data. I like to think of ourselves as big data before big data was big data. We've been around since 1925. Obviously, there weren't computers back then, but a lot of the work that we did do as far as collecting performances was done paper based. In the last 25 years or so, we've since moved over to computer technology. In the last four or five years, what we've really seen with the advent of a lot of online musical sources, especially things like YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, we're seeing a larger influx of the amount of information that we're having to digest or ingest as an organization we do processing on.
So one of the problems that we have is the throughput or the IOPS that was available to us through traditional storage array, we had a traditional tier SAN storage array and we knew that with all the new tech-all the new data that's coming in, we had to ensure that we were positioned well to be able to handle the increasing amount of data that was being sent to us on a daily or weekly or monthly basis.
The HP solution to us made a lot of sense. When I was at HP Discover last year and I saw the keynote about the $2.00 per gigabyte, that intrigued me very much so. Flash has been around for awhile, but as everyone knows, it's been a very expensive technology. For a company like ours, we really strive to drive value to our members. We've considered a not for profit, meaning that for every dollar that we collect, what's not used for operational purposes goes right back to our members. So obviously the lower we keep the cost, the more money we give back to our members and the greater benefit we provide to them. So that was one of the most intriguing things about the solution.
The other thing that really drew me to the HP 3PAR flash solution was the architecture of it. Being an architecture person infrastructure person, it made a lot of sense to me. XtremIO is a great product. but again, it was a great architecture, but a different approach to solving the same problem that we sort of had to address with the HP 3PAR system.
Performance is very important to us. Like I mentioned, we get a lot of data, we do a lot of data processing for a company of our size, and of course, costs and value for our money is very, very important to us
What other advice do I have?
There's always room for improvement. You know, maybe two years from now we'll be seeing flash costing, 10 cents a gigabyte or something like that. But, no, we've been extremely happy with the solution. My team that manages it and as well as my customers, being the business and the application developers are all very excited about what flash can do for them, for their workloads.
What I recommend to other people looking at all flash solutions, I would take a look at not only the company that's selling it, but the background of the technology itself. There have been a lot of flash startups, a lot of flash startups being purchased by big name companies like Cisco, EMC, etc. So don't let the big name fool you. Do your homework. Make sure you ask the right questions, and look at the history of the product. Talk to some of the customers and get their feedback and see how they're doing with the solution.
I think there was one, I wouldn't say gotcha, but one thing that we kind of had to know going in to take advantage of some of the technology that the people had. Like the in-line de-duplication was the block size. So by default, when you deploy a Windows server it formats at the sort of 4K block size. Take advantage of that, you have to use 16K or higher, so if we had thought of that ahead of time, it would have, we would see benefits more sooner. But now that we're well into our deployment, we have obviously made that adjustment. So I would just say to make sure that people look into that before they deploy.
I would say peer reviewers are very important. You know, sales people being sales people that are trying to sell you their product, that's their job. But when you want to talk to the customers and get feedback from the people that are actually using it, the people that spend their hard earned dollars, that are actually supporting the product, I think that is very valuable in itself, and it's very important to me.
I normally go about finding info by networking, talking to some of my peers; when I do deal with sales people, I ask them for references. They obviously give you curated references, but, you know, ask the right questions and ensure that the people they're talking to are generally being honest, and they generally are. They don't want to mislead you, so it's good to have that relationship beforehand, and even afterwards, reaching out to speak to people.