Good day dear All.
In case you reading this, I suppose you’ve made some search around to compare some Storage System of different vendor.
Today I’d like to talk about latest HP Storage called 3PAR StoreServ 7000 (7200, 7400 Systems)
I will give you a short hint of the document that we are working with – TechSpec.
This one is quite a nice description of the Storage functionality and quite a nice way of doing Marketing.
We going to start from very top to the far end of this “technical” documentation.
First of all our Dearest company state the fact that they will be able to provide you with more features for less money and that’s where the first question comes from. The fact that every spec I saw from HP includes Per-Drive and Per-Capacity licence in Midrange storage segment is a little bit out of date, in time when almost every other vendor already discarded such pricing police seems to be a little archaic. Moreover almost half of functionality comes as Software bundles that give you 0 flexibility in choosing something according to your company’s needs.
Next is going interesting term: “guarantees to double your virtual machine density” this one is quite interesting. HP relaying on the fact of their ASIC and possibility to create and manage Thin volumes. Looking at this statement that Thin is more effective in their system I’m questioning all the other vendors, how the hell do you guys live without ASIC for such a long time? Really, lets say we have new shiny Hypervisor that can create thin volumes to place Virtual Machines on it – do you need separate ASIC for this? In modern world we have CPU’s powerful enough to manage this task without involving second calculating blocks. Moreover any ASIC technology leads to pretty obvious Cut back in terms of further upgrades and functionality of the storage System.
- Why you are going to ask me. Because modern storage systems build on software layers with capable CPU will need to upgrade firmware to get new functionality in one, two, three years after acquisition, like NetApp with their Data ONTAP 8 (upgrade it and get new functions), like IBM with their Storwize systems (Upgrade software and get Compression) or EMC with their SSD cache optimizations. Try to do this same Firmware upgrades with Custom ASIC installed in your system – that’s not gonna work, you will need to replace the whole controller, and looking on how fast this new techs appears, none can guarantee that in 2 years you will be happy with outdated storage system. Therefore I’m not sure what HP is trying to say with this - only platform that guarantees a 50% reduction in capacity requirements.
Next one sound like a bold and kiddish: HP 3PAR StoreServ is also the first product family with a common architecture that meets SMB needs. Looking at the path of today’s midrange storage systems I can not agree with statement – First product family. this might be First for HP but not for all other vendors. NetApp having this for years already, EMC have their VNX Series based on one same platform, IBM have had DS Series storage with same common architect for years (apart from Enterprise DS8000), and Storwize/SVC Family, that using cross system compatibility even Low-end – Midrange – Enterprise with cross functionality support. So at the end of the day. This looks like another new Test Drive for HP’s customers? We going to give you our new product to let us see how good our First experiment with common approach? And to be short in words – painful upgrades is when you have to count every and each licence for Drive under and over “some” capacity and for each separate software and software bundle.
Now lets go further in the system.
Scalability – this term represent how many and much we can get from our system, 2 or 4 controllers in maximum configuration of 7400. Scalability starts from 1.2 TB. There is no possibility to have 3 drives, or even 5 or 7 drives if you not in brackets of this 1.2TB of raw capacity. In case you are interested how good it is, try to upgrade your HP 3PAR system with SSD raid for minimum of 4 drives +1 spare (like yo need one extremely fast SAN boot with 200GB drives for overall usable SSD of 400GB) or for HP’s optimization suite that is going to move hot spots to SSD.
You won’t be able to, just because minimum number of drives in upgrade will be 8. Putting jokes aside, you will need to pay TWICE more for simplest upgrade.
4 controllers in other hand – is huge growth in performance and possible drive installed. But. You will need some rack space(2U), you will be in need of this rack space just next to first 2 Controllers, you wont be able to rebalance Volumes by adding second Controller pair (this is manual process). This days rack space cost money, flexibility of moving system around your Data Centre is more and more valuable than ever before. Looking at maximum drives capabilities. 7200 with 1.8Ghz CPU and 7400 (2-N base) with Same CPU have quite different number in Max allowed drives 144 vs 240. If you honestly believe that same systems with different amount of cache will be liner scalable in terms of performance, I’d ask you to count it again, twice more drives will cause twice more load in bold comparison. CPU and ASIC is left without changes there.
Cache is different story – we have 8 more GB of cache. The very first thing you need to ask yourself looking at this numbers is - “how?”. It’s 2 way cache system (not 3 way). so in simple Mathematics we have (7200) 24 GB / 2 Nodes = 12GB of cache per node. 12GB / 2 (2 way memory) resulting in (!) 6 GB. Show me this Cache modules? Going deeper we can see that 12 GB per node is distributed between Main CPU and ASIC. So we have 4 GB of Cache for DATA
and 8GB of cache supporting ASIC. All of our primary DATA coming from host systems will be proceed by DATA Cache (this 4 GB only). And this HP’s proud ASIC will rest in sweet spot of huge amount of Cache to calculate RAID levels and Thin-Thick (Thick-Thin) conversions. So in case you are going to follow Best Practice for Oracle (for example) – you going to use Fully Allocated Volumes not Thin provisioned. What exactly you need such Cache distribution than? 7400 have 16 Per node – 8 for DATA Cache and 8 for ASIC.
Moreover going deeper base OS is still modular (in some way, even getting limited due to ASIC usage), so each and every step will path through internal OS Stages before being proceed. So the result of such architect will lead us to additional “hops” inside the system, when you using ASIC.
Wrapping this up:
Are you sure you are using an advanced system that is Optimized and up to date. Half of functionality that is stated as “brand new” is new for HP only, 80% of Storage vendors have this technologies for years. 80% of current vendors not using ASIC due to upgrades, functionality and overall TCO limitations. There is plenty of vendors offering you much flexible choice of starting configurations with or without drive, with or without functionality.
This all above is going to be first part. Next time I will cover software functionality of the system. There is much hidden inside and covered with marketing.
P.S. Pay for what you need, upgrade it when you need.