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HPE Primera arrays set sights on Dell EMC PowerMax SANs

The vendor said HPE Primera is being shipped this week to BlueShore Financial. HPE looks to Primera to jolt revenues and take share in high-end storage.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has identified its first paying customer for its flagship Primera storage array.

BlueShore Financial expects the first new HPE Primera array to arrive directly from HPE’s factory in early October. The boutique financial services firm tested Primera in beta and plans to phase out older hybrid 3PAR block storage arrays, said BlueShore manager of technology infrastructure Ryan Burgess.

“We have three fully loaded 3PAR arrays and they’re all maxed out. The Primera gives us the ability to do some consolidation and in-place upgrades, which is critical as we try to reduce our data center footprint,” Burgess said.

The HPE Primera storage system has a different architecture than 3PAR arrays. HPE Primera uses custom chips to enable massively parallel transport of data across dedicated PCI express lanes. It is equipped to support NVMe flash and persistent storage memory used to train massive AI data sets.

As it did with 3PAR, HPE has extended the InfoSight analytics it acquired from Nimble Storage across the Primera storage platform. InfoSight fuels AI-driven automation for storage configuration and setup for the Primera array.

“Primera is the single biggest jump in capabilities and performance that HPE has ever made on a storage platform,” Burgess said.

Data always available

HPE is counting on Primera to compete against market leader Dell EMC’s PowerMax high-end SAN arrays.

Like its competitors, HPE faces headwinds in a challenging climate for storage vendors. HPE saw its overall storage revenue decline by 2.6% last quarter, with Nimble Storage the lone bright spot. Nimble Storage sales jumped 21%, following a 45% increase the prior quarter.

IDC placed HPE second behind Dell EMC in external storage sales in the second quarter. Dell EMC had 29.9% of the market share with $1.9 billion in sales, with HPE at 11.7% share and $740 million in sales, according to IDC. HPE moved ahead of NetApp, which took a big dip in sales for the second quarter.

HPE said it will continue 3PAR support as it rolls out Primera. 3PAR is HPE’s workhorse for block storage. HPE markets Nimble all-flash and hybrid arrays for line-of-business applications. The vendor also sells HPE MSA hybrid arrays to small and midrange enterprises.

Going after Dell EMC PowerMax

While HPE 3PAR arrays come with guaranteed 99.9999% availability, the HPE Primera storage array includes a 100% data availability guarantee. HPE said it will issue credits based on the severity of an outage, up to 20% of the price of the Primera system. A customer must use InfoSight to be eligible for the 100% uptime guarantee.

The InfoSIght AI engine is designed to automate storage configuration and setup to remove decision-making for end users.

“We set out to make managing HPE Primera storage as easy as managing as your iPhone,” HPE GM of storage Milan Shetti said.

Shetti said interest for HPE Primera is “pretty solid,” but he did not specify how many customers had committed to buying the new array.

Primera is critical to HPE’s growth in storage, Enterprise Strategy Group storage analyst Scott Sinclair said. 

“On-premises storage continues to stay fairly flat, but the competition for those workloads is getting tougher. You need to have a high-end tier 1 infrastructure, if you want to win your share of tier 1 workloads,” Sinclair said.

As HPE Primera heads to market, HPE said it is close to wrapping up beta testing of InfoSight on HPE SimpliVity hyper-converged systems. HPE acquired hyper-converged infrastructure startup SimpliVity for $650 million in 2017.  Shetti said InfoSight will be generally available on SimpliVity later in 2019.

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