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What is most valuable?
Right now we’re actually undergoing an expansion of the 3PAR and we’re using flash gearing with AO which is kind of maximizing that flash storage with a spindle in combination. I think that’s gotta be the best productivity feature. The other one would have to be that thin provisioning features, those are great. I think we ended up with a four to one ratio on thin provisioning and the looping.
It’s very simple. You log in and it’s got a myriad of graphs and things that I can quickly put into a presentation for my upper management when I’m trying to justify why we’ve gone with a 3PAR, why we’ve made that kind of investment. Also, it’s really easy for me to bring in my lower technical resources into this 3PAR environment because I have to, I don’t have a choice, and kind of make sure that they don’t, we can manage security so that they can, they have enough rights to do their jobs without being able to cause a catastrophe. And again, that’s peace of mind is high on my priority list.
How has it helped my organization?
The biggest benefit is the flash the IOPS cannot be beat. I’m in a very ever evolving environment and I have now the confidence that I have the appropriate resources at hand that if a bigger problem or a new development project comes around, I can react to it quickly. And with a 3PAR, I’m able to move machines back and forth between a QA, a production environment, the QA environment being in my legacy storage seamlessly. I don’t even need a systems engineer for that, I can have my help desk resources do it. So that’s a real benefit for a shop with five people.
What needs improvement?
I don’t know, I think as we scale I’d like to implement replication features. We haven’t been able to test those out yet ‘cause we only have one unit but no, all-in-all I’m pretty happy with the UI.
For how long have I used the solution?
We’ve had that unit for just under a year right now. I’m pretty sure I bought the first All-Flash starter kit in the US and it’s been a huge source of success for us. We’ve used it to stabilize our business intelligence infrastructure and extreme line some of the processes in our ERP.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability is one of my favorite features. Like I said, our BI infrastructure on Wednesdays at the beginning of that fiscal week is getting hammered. You get tired after a while of answering the phone and saying, we’re sorry, we know it’s Wednesday but you know, once we put that particular SSAS uh, implementation into the 3PAR storage we haven’t been down since. The only time we’ve been down in the last 180 days was for maintenance and it was a planned maintenance. That’s a very good thing, that’s peace of mind for any infrastructure manager out there.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We weren’t able to do it last year just for budgetary reasons but we recently doubled our footprint with the 3PAR and we probably have plans to purchase at least another shelf. It’s just an easy platform to grow and the 7200 is the smallest model, so for a small shop like me it’s gonna take about half a rack. It’s pretty good.
How are customer service and technical support?
It’s great and yeah we have a great support agreement with HP and we leverage them, not just for support but for their technical expertise. Like I mentioned before I have a very lean team and none of us really have that industrial strength, big company experience. We know the basics of how to tune storage area network but it’s really handy to be able to call in an HP engineer and have that conversation without having to incur big professional services engagement.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We still have it. We have a Legacy Dell Compellent Array, it does great for file storage. It just really wasn’t meeting the mark for our infrastructure and once we put this 3PAR on our SAAS implementation things really stabilized, and performance really didn’t become an issue anymore. We have a somewhat weird fiscal week in that on Wednesdays it’s the beginning of the fiscal week. All of the finance department needs to get their data, all of our stores and our retail customers out in the field come in and they’re really mining through the sales, the labors, the costs, try to figure out how did they do the week before. So on this day it’s like a perfect storm for our implementation in that everybody’s getting a big bulk of data at the same time. Using the 3PAR flash array we were able to stabilize that environment so that I really can get their data on demand.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I think it’s a common theme for people in my position. I have an older array, it’s the generational investment coming up and we looked at a number of different models, different competitors but you know a big name like HP and a product like 3PAR and at the right price it was just all-all the stars aligned. We are an HP shop but I would have to say that it’s simplicity. In a couple of days we had this array running. We were able to test it out on multiple production level systems and kind of decide where is the best bang for the buck in utilizing that flash storage.
We were looking at Nimble Storage which was pretty close. I think the big differentiator there was the features set is pretty similar but I really like the approach of HP and I like the big name brand because the rest of my infrastructure is HP as well. We’re primarily an HP shop so given that I have such a lean team I only have myself, a system administrator, a network administrator, I can’t afford to have a lot of complexity in the way that my storage arrays are configured.
What other advice do I have?
In terms of a rating from 1-10, I’d say a nine and I’m not gonna give you a ten until I have at least two units mirrored over my data centers. I think that’s gonna get me a ten, but bottom line is simplicity. With a lot of the competing arrays you really need to have a team that-that’s really eager and motivated to go and configure this array and try some of the obscure features. I just don’t have time for that. I need this thing up, I need it running, and I need it now, and with 3PAR we’ve been able to achieve that objective and keep our cost per terabyte in line.
My one recommendation is we started pretty small, we only bought the all-flash starter kit which is 8 SSD drives and no additional shelves, no spindles. That is a great unit however most of the features that really leverage the power of the 3PAR require kind of that blended approach of the spindle drives and the SSD’s. So buy the flash starter kit and buy some spindles as well.