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HPE flash upgrade covers 3PAR, MSA, new Nimble array

Hewlett Packard Enterprise previews flash upgrades to 3PAR StoreServe and hybrid MSA systems, plus its first Nimble Storage array for reusing backup and copy data.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise spruced up its SAN flash arrays and added a Nimble Storage-branded hybrid system.

HPE's flash upgrade on Wednesday encompassed the high-capacity midrange 3PAR StoreServe 9450 all-flash flagship, along with fifth-generation MSA Storage 2050 entry-level hybrid models. It also introduced the Nimble Storage Secondary Flash Array SF-Series, which optimizes backup and copy data for reuse on primary data sets. HPE acquired SAN vendor Nimble Storage for $1.2 billion in March.

Along with SAN hardware, the flash upgrade extends to HPE data protection. Early access was launched for StoreOnce CloudBank, allowing flash-optimized object storage with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and physical StoreOnce appliances.

The rollouts showcase expanding flash use cases, said Brad Parks, an HPE director of product management and solutions for storage and big data.

"Flash isn't just a performance play anymore. It's got a big operational benefit. It's like bacon for the data center -- it just makes everything better," Parks said.

The 3PAR and MSA Storage platforms are slated for general availability June 5. Nimble SF arrays are available now.

Upgrade targets capacity, performance and data protection

All-flash HPE 3PAR StoreServe competes mostly against Dell EMC VMAX, NetApp All Flash FAS and Pure Storage FlashArray systems. The 3PAR 9450 scales to about 6 PB of raw capacity, double that of its predecessor, the 3PAR 8000 series. Street pricing for 3PAR 9450 starts at around $75,000.

Flash isn't just a performance play anymore. It's got a big operational benefit.
Brad Parksdirector of product management and solutions for storage and big data, HPE

Up to 576 10 TB SSDs can be inserted for 24 PB of effective capacity, based on HPE's presumed 4-to-1 data reduction. Based on internal bench tests, HPE rates 3PAR 9450 for 1.8 million IOPS.

Eighty front-end 16 GB Fibre Channel (FC) host ports provide more than three times the connectivity of the 27-port 3PAR 8000 series. Forty 10 GB Ethernet iSCSI host ports and 24 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapters also are included. Parks said the 9450 "fits between current midrange and high-end" arrays. He also said HPE will continue to sell 3PAR 8450 arrays.

The quad-controller architecture links up to eight arrays in a federation to allow data to move nondisruptively between production and backup systems.

HPE StoreOnce is disk-based backup available as an appliance or a virtual storage array. StoreOnce CloudBank replicates backups to multiple clouds and physical on-premises targets.

StoreOnce Catalyst software directs backups to disk and copies long-term data to a CloudBank object store in either AWS or Azure. HPE claims customers could protect more than 100 PB of object storage at one-tenth of a cent per gigabyte, per month, presuming 20-to-1 data deduplication and maximum logical StoreOnce capacity of 14 PB.

HPE added a feature called Express Restore to 3PAR's HPE Recovery Manager Central (RMC) 4.1 software to help recover data from cloud and local StoreOnce repositories. RMC is included as part of the standard 3PAR licensing. Version 4.1 is expected in September.

Scott Sinclair, a storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said the 3PAR all-flash upgrade helps enterprises to boost scalability and consolidate workloads.

"At a macro level, we are seeing more midsize organizations deploy all-flash, but often the goal isn't to get a dramatic speed boost for one or two applications. They want better performance, better reliability and [workload] consolidation spread across a higher number of workloads," Sinclair said.

"Improved performance is still the No. 1 answer when we ask storage decision-makers why they are buying flash. When you add up the other answers -- better reliability, improved consolidation or improved cost per I/O -- they outweigh the number of improved performance responses by a factor of 3-to-1."

New MSA building blocks natively integrate flash

MSA Storage is geared to small and midsize organizations. Customers can get a stripped-down MSA 2050 2U building block or opt for a flash upgrade with MSA 2052, which natively integrates 1.6 TB of flash with two 800 GB SSDs.

Depending on the model, 96 large-form-factor SAS drives can be installed for 960 TB of raw storage, which includes an expansion shelf. Its eight host interfaces may be configured for 16 GB FC or 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

The MSA Storage SAN family embeds MSA Snapshot Software, MSA Remote Snap Software and MSA Volume Copy Software natively in the array. RAID levels 1, 5, 6 and 10 are supported. Street pricing starts at $7,750 for the MSA 2050 and at $9,600 for MSA 2052.

Nimble SF-Series manifests HPE integration

Nimble's SF-Series aims to help IT shops put passive backup data to work on active data sets, particularly analytics, development and testing, and quality assurance.

Still, HPE, Nimble and most other legacy array vendors are witnessing steady and steep declines in networked storage revenues, as companies warm up to cloud and web-based storage as a service.

The SF-Series models add inline variable block deduplication to existing compression capabilities in Nimble's Adaptive Flash CS-Series and AF-Series all-flash arrays. Data services are common across the Nimble array family, including cloning, data encryption, replication and snapshots, as is its cloud-based InfoSight predictive analytics.

Because backup and disaster recovery rarely deal with active data, flash is considered overkill and pricey for secondary storage. But Gavin Cohen, Nimble Storage's vice president of product and solutions marketing, said flash can play a role in secondary storage. He said the SF-Series allows organizations to speed up activities, such as spinning up data copies or clones and failing over workloads.

Two models are available: SF100 and SF300. The SF100 scales to 126 TB of raw capacity, including from 1.4 TB to 36 TB of flash. Cohen said its target audience is midsize IT shops and disaster recovery sites of larger enterprises.

The SF300 tops out at 252 TB of raw storage, with 2.8 TB to 72 TB of flash. Nimble aims SF300 systems at organizations with demanding capacity and throughput requirements.

Nimble said pricing for Secondary Flash Arrays is around $40,000.

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