Hewlett-Packard has announced a single architecture across storage systems that can span different sizes of enterprises. This is the HP 3PAR StoreServ that now includes the 7000 model to complement the high-end enterprise models currently available.
That gives HP one architecture that covers from the small enterprise though the largest enterprise data center systems.
On the surface, the announcement of the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000 appears to be a new system for the mid-tier and small enterprise. In reality, it represents a fundamental decision about leveraging investment in an architecture that can scale across multiple market segments and meet market demands such as performance, capacity, resiliency, and advanced operational features at different price points. By leveraging its investment in 3PAR, HP can maximize R&D and support for storage. The 7000 now allows HP a broad breadth of coverage with the single architecture.
Except for NetApp’s FAS platform, no major storage vendor has one architecture that spans from low-end SAN through the high-end of the enterprise. HP does have other storage platforms, such as the StoreVirtual (formerly LeftHand) and the XP P9500 that is re-branded from Hitachi for mainframe storage, but these fit on the extreme high and low ends. Extending 3PAR’s architecture allows HP to phase out its aging EVA midrange platform.
The advantage of leveraging a single storage architecture seems obvious but has been contradictory to the method most vendors use to deliver products to different segments of the market. That’s because they usually gain products through acquisition. That method is expedient but creates independent offerings that require separate (and costly) development and support teams. HP gained 3PAR through acquisition, but the architecture was flexible and scalable enough to address the range of customers from the small enterprise to the data center.
Leveraging one architecture has benefits for both the customer and for the vendor. For the vendor, focusing on one team for R&D and support drives down costs and makes for a simpler sales engagement.
The most important benefit for the customer is a longer product lifespan. With the vendor not having to invest in a diverse set of products, there’s an obvious commitment to the product line. That dramatically reduces customers’ worries that an end-of-life decision will be made based on the economics of investment in that product.
Other benefits include the availability of what may have been considered high-end enterprise features on lower-end systems. For the customer, the continuity of the storage architecture reduces the interruptions that occur when changing processes or moving from one model to another.
A single architecture is part of an evolving landscape for storage. The leverage of hardware technologies and embedded software has been in progress for some time. HP terms that Converged Storage and it is represented in other products included in the major storage announcements beyond the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000. They include the HP StoreOnce for data protection, HP StoreAll for file and object storage, and HP StoreVirtual for flexible, economic iSCSI storage.
You can expect to see more major vendors going to a single storage architecture with highly leveraged hardware and embedded storage. It makes economic sense for the vendor and the customers. The key is that the architecture must be able to scale to meet the demands in the different usage models for performance, capacity, and price.
(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).