What is most valuable?
I would say one of the most valuable is the ability to dedup on a CPG level. That's one of the newest features that has come out most recently and has enabled us to get a ratio of about 7.1 to 1. That's one of the things where we really were going for with it. One of the main examples for that is we were able to save a lot of money on we've converted from an older F400 to a 7400 SAN.
How has it helped my organization?
We were able to save money by not buying more physical drives for storage and more cabinets, things like that.
What needs improvement?
Oh, that's a great question. I would consider having better integration with VMware. It's on a license basis and VMware does communicate with the SAN, but right now the capabilities are only that it shows you what the deduplication savings is or what the thin provisioning savings is. It doesn't actually show you on a volume level what you can do, how many extra VMs you can get on there for example. If we're only using 20% of the available storage, it still sees like it's full. I would like to see a better integration of that. We actually had a bunch of different solutions. I wouldn't say that we had any specific one. Well, storage is about performance for a lot of people.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We had an accident where when we turned on deduplication and we had it active for some of the virtual volumes that we had in our environment, it did actually cause a problem that HP had not heard of previously and had not yet documented that was fixed in a release 2 weeks later, and a software patch 2 weeks later. We did have an outage related to that specifically where it's not dithering us from doing it using dedup long term, but that was actually the cause of that. Other than that, reliability has been fine but that's a pretty big marker as far as having a problem.
How are customer service and technical support?
We had to aggressively work to upgrade through the ranks of HP support in order to get to a tier that would really help us with this problem that could really understand this problem. It took us several hours to get through that. Of course we're relying on the thousands of concurrent connections we have at any given time. That was an issue. I have no complaints there, whatsoever. You can add controllers, add drives as much as you want. It's pretty much unlimited how far we can go with it. I mean HP did the setup work for us. Therefore, it was very straightforward. The only thing they really wouldn't do is the wiring which is understandable, so we had that taken care of and could not be happier with that part.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
This was actually a revolution of getting us into the cloud because one of our clients demanded that we start offering a cloud-based solution. This is when we went out and started really looking for solutions that would empower a cloud level enterprise.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
For us, it was about reliability. Our SaaS solution, our clients depend on and our clients' customers depend on on a daily basis, so that was number one. NetApp was a contender, but honestly we mostly looked just at HP 3PAR.
What other advice do I have?
Specifically with flash, I would say don't believe the hype of other vendors that say they can save you money by deduping and that was their go to strategy. With 3PAR, they can do the exact same thing and it's a lot more scalable on an enterprise level and you'll pay about the same amount of money. Don't apply the latest technology, even though they say it's vetted and tested. Just in case, dedup was a relatively new feature.
We deployed it believing in the reliability of the 3PAR and it ended up being a problem for us. Wait until a couple of cycles have ended. Let customers that do that vet it for you and that's just typical sound practice. It's really invaluable. We heavily rely on online resources to do that research for us and the reviews are critical. We'd like to see things that other people in our same caliber are using. When we explore a new solution for example, we say, "Okay. Can you give us our position, equivalency in that customer? Can we talk to them and see how their real life experiences has been with it?" That kind of thing, online reviews very, very important.