Watching Flash turn into Denim

By : |September 29, 2014 0
It’s often hard to distinguish between fashion and fad, and there are only a few trends that outlast their strut as a show-stopper

MUMBAI, INDIA: The camera has panned wide at ‘Flash’, the talk of the storage and IT infrastructure town in the last few months. Yet it would be too soon to place bets on its survival as the core, common, consistent fabric of functional-yet-aesthetic IT wardrobes that stretches for years on the laundry line. Coz, it’s easy to be the fur; it’s takes a lot more to last as an ever-blue denim. More so when you have inch-tapes like hybrid vs. all-flash or scalability or actual cost impact or impact on storage to measure up to. We take our guesstimates on the sidelines of some relevant product-announcements at HP, and see if Barun Lala, director, HP Storage, HP India can snip these doubts and stitch some futuristic pockets of hope.

Why and how are your latest offerings in SDS and all-flash space noteworthy?

One highlight is the components and customer-need-stack that we have kept in mind here, like VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) that allows customers in private as well as public cloud scenarios to have hypervisor-independent and platform-neutral choices and integration. That makes it the easiest form of storage configuration with high-capacity utilization, reclamation features and low-storage costs. With the emergence of SSD, demand for all-flash arrays has gone up. We offer that at a good price point in a market-redefining manner.

For all segments?

This comes with new levels of scalability which would be of special relevance to SMBs. In short, these are new storage offerings for the software-defined data center (SDDC) that simplify deployment of scale-out storage for cloud computing and virtual server environments. We have also introduced a new entry-level all-flash array to enable affordable application performance acceleration. IT departments and service providers are under pressure to deliver rapid business value with fewer resources. This is fueling the growth of cloud computing and a move to the SDDC, which requires next-generation storage platforms that improve efficiency and control, which is what we have endeavoured with HP StoreVirtual VSA and enhanced HP StoreVirtual Storage hypervisor integration and released a new HP StoreOnce VSA license that cuts backup costs by 86 per cent for small and remote sites.

Is the flash vs. disk puzzle still part of customer conversations? What tends to be expensive when one thinks of caching, scalability, cost impact and efficiency?

Most customers talk of SSD because of multiple performance levels and while it was not so affordable let’s say six months back, now the environment has changed with density going up and prices going down. Thus, adoption of SSDs is surely increasing. The future is going to be ‘Flash’ for sure and it is already selling very well in the market. As to TCO or scalability, the uniqueness of the box that we have introduced, for instance, revolves around ability to divide workloads between flash and non-flash arrays. We have also addressed pent-up demand on need for back-up and archival and service-defined storage. Example, HP is enabling high service levels while removing cost barriers to flash storage adoption with the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Starter Kit and now at $35,000, SDDC customers can benefit from all-flash performance at half the cost of competing entry-level all-flash arrays.

Can Flash redefine the storage parts of IT stacks?

Flash can co-exist with other drives and then it is extremely important for two elements to be able to talk to each other. That architecture flexibility to mix workloads is an important management tool.

Any observations of the evolution of post-flash storage contenders like Resistive RAM, Spintronic memory, HMC, PMC, 3D Flash etc.?

Resistive RAM –is currently under development by a several companies and it may be slightly premature at this state, to predict the future. Analysts anticipate this to be a replacement for flash memory; the price performance benefit is not established yet though. As to 3D Flash, the first SSD drive incorporating the 3D Flash memory has been recently launched and we need to watch and see what it can deliver in the future.

Has Flash been able to progressively address concerns around economics vs. speed or scalability vs. capacity or mission-critical applications vs. real-time applications debates? Where do HP\’s offerings stand here, especially on the continuum between advantages of auto-tier or hybrid arrays to all – flash options?

Yes, absolutely. The choice of options is left to the customer. With price barriers being dropped and datacenter footprint becoming increasing valuable, we find customers adapting to All-Flash Arrays more frequently. Auto-Tiering/Hybrid Arrays are going to be the mainstream product for some more time, but in the near future we expect customers adopting All-Flash optimized arrays since it delivers significantly better overall IOPS (Input/output Operations per Second) within a rack.

How do these new HP products attack questions around simplification of enterprise storage and ease of integration? Do they align well with a CIO\’s needs and implications of Cloud or Virtualization adoption?

Flash Arrays are breaking price barriers. The recent announcement of 3PAR 7200 All-Flash Starter Kit comes at a price point of sub $ 35000, which is unprecedented. This is 50 per cent cheaper than any available SSD array with similar functionality. This actually eliminates entry price barrier to all-Flash arrays. Flash Arrays will increasingly be acceptable to customers’ the moment Price/Performance Gap is bridged compared to Spinning Arrays. Customers adopting Cloud or transitioning to VDI projects are increasingly adopting these arrays, especially for multi-tenant environment management. For customers adopting Cloud, Converged Management (Integration of HP OneView & HP Helion with Openstack standards) will be critical for simplification and ease of integration. Seamless integration into VMware vCenter Operations and log insight will also play a critical role in implication.

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