HPE 3PAR StoreServ Review

Backups of our large volume of SAN-level Snapshots has been phenomenal

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for 3PAR is our EMR application. We're in healthcare. We also use it for virtualization. The performance is excellent.

How has it helped my organization?

Backups were huge. We take a lot of SAN-level Snapshots and it has been phenomenal in that aspect.

What is most valuable?

When we bought it, the big sell for us was what they called "wide striping," how they striped the data and could get performance on a cheaper disk. Nowadays, the newer models that are out, which we are going to in the next couple of years, the most valuable feature is mainly being able to achieve such high IOPS in such a small chassis.

What needs improvement?

In new releases, I'd really like to see it more targeted towards hyperconverged. They are working that way with Greenlake and integrating their own "build your own" expansion environment within 3PAR.

I would like to see some of the InfoSight integration. In the speech today, here at HPE Discover 2018, it was pretty clear that that is where it's heading.

I think it's on track, on the whole, as far as where we're going. I'm probably two years away, maybe less, from a 3PAR purchase. LIkely, by the time I'm ready to buy, it's going to be in there.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had one major hardware failure in the last seven years and nothing went down because of it. It was a controller failure. It's a four-node cluster so end-users didn't even notice an impact in performance. Nobody was in a panic besides me. In the end it worked out, they just replaced it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're at right around 700 or 750 terabytes raw, and we're about maxed out for the version we're in, without a wholesale swap-out of our drives and drive architecture. From a scalability standpoint, we can add to it but we have to add more controllers. But we're in an older version. The newer versions have gotten better, faster, stronger. Probably the next step is going to be Greenlake and that avenue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We went from an old XP24k, a long time ago, to an EMC VNX. The EMC storage was cheap on the front-end but expensive on the back-end for maintaining it. It was cheaper for us to jump into another 3PAR than it was to maintain support on the VNX. We quickly moved to 3PAR and we haven't looked back since.

In terms of important criteria in selecting a vendor besides price, we're primarily an HPE shop. I can count on one hand how many other pieces of hardware we have other than HPE: a Palo Alto firewall and maybe a couple of vendor-supplied Dell boxes. I always look to HPE first. If they can't do it, I call and complain to my regional sales VP and he tries his best. Sometimes he can pull one out and get something going for me, but if not then I start looking at others.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup but we did have Professional Services come in and set it up because we didn't have any training at the time. The setup was a while ago, but it took longer to unbox it because our reseller messed up and sold us all the individual boxes for every single drive. So the implementation guy wasn't very happy: four pallets of itty bitty boxes for every single hard drive. But soup to nuts, with that problem in play, the setup took about a week. If he didn't have all that, it probably could have been done in a day.

Overall the setup is very straightforward. It's just like any other enterprise storage. If you set up one you've set them all up, as it were. They're the same idea, different architecture.

What was our ROI?

From a comparison of bang for the buck, what you get for the money, I'd have to say they are one of the market leaders. Are there solutions that do it faster? Sure, but you're going to pay for it. 3PAR isn't the cheapest, it isn't the most expensive, but in my opinion, it's the best.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We've looked at Pure Storage, we've looked at Kaminario. We've looked at EMC's new VMAX. From a price standpoint, what you get - and with us moving towards VDI and having Synergy frames and SimpliVity on the market - it doesn't really make sense to switch. Do you really want to pull away now after you have invested so much? 

It's a matter of: "They're going down the right path so just keep following it." The reason we jumped ship for VNX back when we did was that, at the time, HPE stepped away from SAN and storage. Those were their bad years of MSA versus EVA and dropping away. They didn't really have an offering that fit that mid-tier storage that we were at. We had to do something. "Once bitten, twice shy", so now we'll look at EMC, we'll look at other vendors, but I always have a feeling we're going to come back to 3PAR.

What other advice do I have?

My current 3PAR, three years ago I would have rated it a 10 out of 10. Today, just because it's aged, I'd give it a solid seven. It's because the drive architecture has changed over the years. Comparing it to the new ones that are out... it comes back to "better, faster, stronger." Without me spending another six figures to swap out hundreds of terabytes of storage, I can't get the added performance. It comes down to me making a critical decision of, "Okay, how do I balance my current IOPS, deliver what I need to deliver to my customer, and still meet the budget?"

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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