3PAR (and others - e.g. XIV) delivers what Wikibon terms Tier 1.5 storage, between Tier 1 and Tier 2. The functionality is close to Tier 1. 3PAR's virtualization architecture allows very consistent "good-enough" performance to be given to all volumes within a performance tier. The use of flash can help boast that performance. 3PAR has great Tier 1.5 technology, but aspires to be a Tier 1 provider in our opinion. Saying that it is, or saying that its customers run applications on what they define as Tier 1 storage does not cut it in our view. So what is required to achieve Tier 1 status, and the higher margins that being a Tier 1 provider will give?
The Wikibon definition of Tier 1 storage includes:
- Has the time-tested ability, through whatever array resources are required, to make the critical application perform at the highest possible levels required for the business
- Has a complete and fire-tested set of high availability remote replication functionality allowing large-scale consistent replication to multiple locations
- Has a set of well-established performance and availability services that understands both the technology and how to integrate and project manage that technology to meet the specific organization and industry imperatives, and prove those requirements have been met
- Can support mainframes as well as open systems (which continue to run a large percentage of mission critical applications, especially in the financial sector).
The manufacturers of Tier 1 storage are EMC, Hitachi and IBM. All the vendors of Tier 1 storage use direct sales, or OEM deals that include direct sales. No channel will make the necessary investments to meet Tier 1 requirements.
With the necessary investments, Wikibon believes that HP can take 3PAR to be a significant player and even the dominant player in Tier 1. It is a five year journey, needing significant investment in the following areas:
- A large investment in the integration of flash technologies with disk technologies going beyond SSD to enable different high-performance workloads. An example would be an implementation of flash-cache.
- Significant investment in services to deliver the high-availability and performance capabilities of 3PAR, with a strong link back to development to ensure that storage functionality is enhanced.
- Integration of 3PAR with HP Servers in appliances with strong investment in tuning the 3PAR system for different workloads (e.g., Business Intelligence)
- Strong investment in 3PAR local and remote array clustering to enable migration of data between array generations and dynamic data migration throughput the storage network
- Strong investment in system virtualization (e.g., VMware) storage services, including industry leading snap-based backup and recovery functionality
- Aggressive implementation of new functionality, such as within array de-duplication, compression and mainframe support.
HP is a much better partner than Dell to help 3PAR achieve Tier 1 storage status. If HP makes the investments above, Wikibon believes it has the ability to become the number 1 Tier 1/1.5 platform over the next five years.
Action Item: Users requiring Tier 1 storage should judge HP on its declared vision and timescale, and on meeting those dates with true Tier 1 functionality.