Review: HP 3PAR conjures powerful storage magic

HP 3PAR StoreServ 7400 combines high scalability, high performance, and a big bag of tricks for easing storage management

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On the HP 3PAR side, you'll find plenty of convenience features such as templates for virtual volumes and wizards for creating and scheduling adaptive optimizations. Creating a storage template allows you to quickly provision new storage volumes without the need to step through all of the options. You can always go back after the fact and make changes, if necessary.

Windows Server 2012's ODX has the potential to save loads of time and network bandwidth, especially if you frequently create new virtual machines by copying a golden image. In a nutshell, ODX recognizes when a copy command can be accomplished without moving any data over the network. This would typically be the case when a file is copied from one volume of the storage system to another. An ODX-enabled storage system performs this copy internally without passing any data across the network. Without ODX, all of the data comprising the file would make a round trip across your network, passing from the storage system to the host where the command was issued and back again.

SMI-S is a storage management standard published by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). Currently at version 1.6, SMI-S provides a way for a storage system to provide control and status information to third-party management software. The document for block devices (which exceeds 1,100 pages) defines a long list of functions not necessarily implemented by every vendor. The current HP 3PAR software supports a subset of the SMI-S standard. You can find the full compliance report for HP 3PAR on the SNIA website.

Performance, reliability, and scalability
These three scoring categories are interrelated in a number of ways. Traditionally, you get more performance either by inserting SSD or by adding more physical drives and spreading the data across them. HP 3PAR supports both options, as well as a hybrid of the two that leverages both SSD and spinning disk. HP 3PAR is a participating member of the Storage Performance Council and has published audited benchmarks using the SPC-1 guidelines detailing performance for a number of its systems.

The published numbers for the older F400 model were 93,050 IOPS and a throughput of 2,600 MBps. For the higher-end T800, the numbers were 224,900 IOPS and 6,400 MBps. You can get the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000 in an all-SSD configuration capable of achieving speeds of more than 320,000 IOPS. Those numbers were measured with an HP internal Iometer-based test using 100 percent random reads of 8K blocks.

HP has a long tradition of building reliable hardware, and that extends to the HP 3PAR line. The systems are architected with modular trays, easily accessible and serviceable components, and redundant components. The HP 3PAR architecture supports adding a total of 18 enclosures to provide upward of 864TB of storage.

It's hard to find fault with the HP 3PAR 7400. Full support for all the SMI-S features in Windows Server 2012 aren't quite there yet, but you can expect more to come. You'll have to use the HP 3PAR management console in conjunction with the Microsoft tools to accomplish administrative functions such as creating new storage pools and adjusting the adaptive optimization schedule. The integration with VMware is more complete.

But these are quibbles. The HP 3PAR 7400 is a highly flexible, highly scalable storage system packed with innovative features that not only improve resiliency, performance, and efficiency, but substantially reduce the burden of managing storage. You could hardly ask for more.

This story, "Review: HP 3PAR conjures powerful storage magic," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in Windows and data center at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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