What is most valuable?
What's relatively common in most SAN environments is consolidation of storage under a single management interface or pool. The ability to quickly scale and expand storage as required, and to accommodate whatever deliverables you're putting out there. I think one of the advantages of 3PAR obviously is its tiered storage, as well as its visibility, deduplication in the flash is a big component. Just being a holistic solution that you can rely on as a cornerstone to the foundation for your underlying infrastructure. You have that flexibility to use it for your virtual infrastructure, grow it out to accommodate other storage requirements. It's a single framework or platform that you can use to accommodate pretty much all your storage requirements.
One of the features we use is Peer Persistence on the storage, so that's part of our core DR strategy, so that we have two data centers, we synch and replicate the data between the two centers. Then in the event of a disaster, because we're a virtualized environment, we can fail the storage over, and fail our VMs over, and we can be up and running. We test it on an annual basis, and we completely can fail all of one data center into another data center, and within an hour and a half, we have everything up and tested and back online. That's been our DR exercise.
How has it helped my organization?
Although there's been a lot of technical advancement, one of my biggest beefs with HP's drive towards OneView as a management platform for this point is really around their licensing. It's been somewhat cost prohibitive. Obviously with the new release of OneView in the near future, the licensing model is going to change, but for customers who may already have a heavy investment in hardware infrastructure, who were not previously licensed with ILO Enterprise, for example, and did not have those rights for utilizing OneView, having to backtrack and buy all new licensing in order to be able accommodate that, in order to be able to manage their infrastructure, it kind of takes away from the whole simplification of having everything under a single pane of glass if you're now forced to have to go back and relicense initial investments to be able to take advantage of that technology.
That being said, I will state that it does look like HP understands and has recognized that, and I think that's really why they're trying to make the advancements and the changes that they are in terms of having that. They're pushing it to be that kind of single unified management infrastructure component, and knowing that they want to push customers towards that, I think they also recognize that in order to do that, they have to put some incentive there to make it worthwhile for customers to make that investment and change in their management strategy.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
From my perspective it's definitely a stable solution, it's easily scalable. It's really like any other kind of blade enclosure, you buy your chassis, you add the blades as needed. Really no real hardware related issues. You're always going to get your bad spurts, regardless of generation, but I think from our perspective, they'll correct me if I'm wrong, it's been pretty stable.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We didn't switch in terms of the technology. We switched to the latest 3PAR technology. We previously used 7400s. We wanted to move from a managed services to self-managing, and the contract was coming up for renewal, so that was a golden opportunity to swing off and do our own thing.
What other advice do I have?
Really understand what your needs and requirements and future expectations are. Every vendor has a product that fits in the same market space, whether it be Dell, IBM or HP. I think it's really about what your long-term expectations and goals are. With 3PAR for example, if a lot of your underlying infrastructure is HP, it might make sense to go that way, to maintain that consistency. From a management an usability perspective, the full integration components, everything from your Blade, your Interconnects, your storage, your management platforms. Almost all the major vendors now are doing some form of deduplication, compression, storage tiering. I think it really comes down to knowing and understanding what you're looking for. Sometimes it's more of a business related decision and politics than it is an actual technical merit. I would say really understanding what your workloads are, what you're looking to get out of any investment that you make, and then taking it from there.