How has it helped my organization?
The great value is the integration with the hardware and the software which really has great features that they develop over time. The system we bought back in 2012/13 and installed in 2013 is no longer in the system we are using now in 2016. This is because the software evolved so much and features were added to the system we purchased three years ago. It still adds new features that which we can leverage on the day-to-day use and make the storage investment more profitable and the storage resources more efficient.
What needs improvement?
The things I keep asking for are certain features which are now available but not to all the systems that are on the market. Sometimes they say we don't think the hardware you have can sustain this feature. We don't let you try it if it probably can't sustain the feature. There are other features where they say they don't support it on this type of spinning media, we only do that on flash. We don't have flash on our RA, so we are out of that. We get so many other features just by a software update, like transparent frame level between sites which is a huge thing. There's nothing really to complain about.
For how long have I used the solution?
We introduced this solution into our system in early 2013. We were one of the first customers in Germany and Europe who really received the new 3PAR 7400 storage systems. We transferred all our data from our previous system which was the HP EVA system to the 3PAR system. We did that not by means of the online import, but rather the MPX solution. This solution transferred it over the wire, at wire speed transfer, block for block, the data from the EVA to the 3PAR. Over a weekend, we had all the data for virtualization which was the MRV sphere, the file services on top of Windows storage. We were able to transfer into the new system so we can break down the old system, erect the second new system then have everything merge across the sites again, like we had before.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There is no doubt that the 3PAR system is the most stable system we ever had in the storage space. When I look left and right at other systems we had and others still have in the university, we never had any unplanned downtime. We never lost any data. It really does the job the way it should be doing it.
There might be some mishaps, but nothing that's out of the ordinary, like losing the website for three days in a row. There's nothing like that. Of course, you have to do all the work to maintain the system. That's hard work, and you have to do it, but the system really rewards you for doing that.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
In terms of scalability, we did careful planning on that in the beginning. I don’t think we will outrun the system within its natural lifetime. Once it gets replaced by the next generation of systems, whatever those might be, it might be 3PAR, or it might be something software defined. We don't know because that will be in 2019.
How is customer service and technical support?
The support at HPE is not great, but it is good. We have some fights about it. That's basically at the stages where we have a way to think how it should be done. Then HPE has a supported way. Then HPE has a way that will also work. Basically, our way is the way that will also work. That's kind of our fight, but at the end, we settle for the best of both worlds. They're typically deliver what they promise. There's no worry about that with 3PAR. On the StoreEasy side, it's a little bit more of a challenge because half the product is HPE, and the other half is Microsoft. You have a lot of components that play together and if you get to the line where it is stitched together, sometimes you have just these problems. Is it Microsoft? Is it HPE? How do you get that together and then run into all the troubles you are with having multiple vendors included into that, even though you purchased a product from HPE.
How was the initial setup?
I think it is a complex setup. We didn't set it up ourselves. We had an HPE partner come in to set it up for us. Then we only dealt with the maintenance in running it. The hardware maintenance is done by HPE. Other than that, we do it ourselves now. I think that's fairly reasonable. Have somebody set it up professionally, explain to you how it should work, and then you can take it from there. That's the way it was in old-fashioned IT. This is transforming with all the cloud stuff that's going on, with all the automation. I think that's really getting to a different level going forward.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at all the major competitors at the time when we chose it. We looked at the EMCs, the NetApps, the IBMs, and the Dells. In the end, it turned out only one, namely HPE, not only for storage but also for server and all the other requirements we had, was able to bring it to the market at a price point that we were willing to pay. For the 3PAR, of course, the transparency between sites is valuable. That used to be the huge feature for NetApp. At that time, they weren't able to deliver it in the way we wanted it. Also HPE had to wait about half a year to be able to deliver that. It was just a software update, some more setup, and then we were up and running. I think with NetApp, it would have been little bit of a harder journey.
What other advice do I have?
In terms of choosing a vendor, there is a mix of capabilities. You need to find someone who is proven in the field, in general. But if you want to go for latest products, we bought a 7400 even before it was announced. There is nothing in the field. You have to have good partners with whom you can work and with whom you can speak. It only becomes apparent over the course of a project how well of a partner you chose. If you have a product where you spent several million Euros, there's nothing that will work on the first instance. There's not anything that will work, but there are some things that won't work on the first instance. Then every partner shines. You have to ask how they get these problems resolved.
We have been an HPE customer for over 20 years. HPE consistently delivered on target. They are always in a bidding process. They can never be sure where they will get the next project because they run against the Dells, the Lenovos, and all the others. You have to have the right portfolio, you have to have the right features, the right product, the right services around it, and you have to deliver it for the right price. That's basically it.