HPE expanded its Alletra storage line with a new appliance that supports any storage protocol but also demonstrates a shift in strategy that focuses on simplification and flexibility.
HPE Alletra Storage MP can support file, block or object storage. It can be repurposed for different storage protocol needs without customers investing in new hardware.
The Alletra Storage MP platform, unveiled last month alongside a new partnership with Vast Data, is the latest addition to HPE's cloud-native storage portfolio that underpins GreenLake, a consumption-based data center model. The Alletra line was unveiled in 2021 with a purpose-built appliance for file and block storage. The MP deviates from that strategy, adding a multi-purpose appliance to the mix, according to Steve McDowell, an analyst and founding partner at NAND Research.
"Historically they had a different platform for every storage product," he said. "Now they are converging."
One box to rule them all
HPE has had different storage brands for different storage needs, including Primera, for high-end block storage; Nimble, for hybrid flash storage gained through acquisition in 2017; 3PAR, for all-flash storage; and Apollo, for its storage servers. HPE is making a shift to simplify its brand, according to Dave Raffo, an analyst at Futurum Group.
"Creating a single hardware platform simplifies the work HPE is trying to do, because it is going to be their underlying hardware for all storage," Raffo said.
Alletra Storage MP will become HPE's go-to appliance for file, block and -- in the future -- object, according to Raffo. He said it will also likely be used for data protection. Eventually, it will all be GreenLake storage. But MP gets the vendor closer to a unified storage approach with a single hardware platform.
In a blog post this week, HPE announced that it will be consolidating its brands further for simplification, including Alletra Storage.
The Alletra MP has limitations, Raffo said. Unlike a product such as NetApp OnTap, customers cannot run file and block on the appliance at the same time. If customers' needs change, the MP appliance could be repurposed from a file to a block through software changes.
Common but configurable
Dave RaffoAnalyst, Futurum Group
While MP is a common hardware platform with a common form factor and motherboard, not all use cases, such as HPC and deep learning, are common. Some require specific parts that aren't typically found in general storage, McDowell said. For example, Vast's technology uses Nvidia Bluefield DPUs that are built into specific hardware for its use. But MP will work with this technology, according to McDowell.
"As long as there is a PCIe slot, users have the flexibility going forward to add accelerators like DPUs," McDowell said, noting that HPE is not specifically building DPUs into the box.
The MP's common chassis supports different types of architectures, according to a blog by Dimitris Krekoukias, a technology and strategy architect at HPE. When building a storage cluster, an MP can be configured as compute with more processing, storage and compute or array or as just a bunch of flash for only storage.
The common hardware platform supports disaggregated storage, where processing or storage can be scaled separately as needed, according to Raffo.
Coming storage commoditization
The Alletra Storage MP is designed to work with software-defined storage, making the hardware underneath only as important as its ability to be used with the software, according to McDowell. General-purpose storage like HPE's new platform is becoming increasingly commoditized, he added.
"In the past, there had always been some hardware magic, and that is disappearing," he said.
Raffo said that commoditization of storage is the goal of storage-as-a-service vendors like HPE to make using storage more cloud-like for the enterprise.
"If you are an Oracle or SQL administrator, you don't want to deal with the storage box and manage it," Raffo said. "You just want to know that your application and its data is stored correctly."
Subscription models like GreenLake or a storage product like Allera Storage MP reflect the push toward commoditization, where customers can use the tech without managing it.
Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at StorageReview.com.