HP Shares Details about the Future of 3PAR within its StorageWorks Division

Now that the acquisition of 3PAR by HP is a done deal, there are three big questions on the minds of many. How will 3PAR’s InServ Storage Servers fit into HP’s overall storage portfolio? Is HP’s relationship with HDS over? Does HP keep its EVA line of storage? These are some of the questions I was able to get answered this week when I met with Craig Nunes, the new HP Director of StorageWorks Marketing at Storage Networking World (SNW) 2010.

First, in regards to where does 3PAR fit into the HP StorageWorks portfolio, Nunes referenced an presentation made by HP’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networks, Dave Donatelli, provided. Donatelli views 3PAR as THE architecture for the next decade and delivering advanced features today that customers desire. 

He positions 3PAR as addressing a variety of markets from mid to enterprise to the cloud.  On that point, Nunes indicated the 3PAR family is largely complementary within the HP storage line-up in the context of addressing application workloads which break down into two broad classifications, predictable and unpredictable.

Predictable workloads are those one might associate with traditional enterprise deployments like SAP or a Microsoft Exchange workgroup, whereby capacity growth and workload type are largely understood and resistant to large, unforecast changes.

Unpredictable workloads are those most often found in virtualized environments where capacity demand and workload type can vary widely since content and applications are often coming from outside the enterprise (as is the case with social networking or cloud hosting) or within the enterprise in a more dynamic form (as is the case with large scale server virtualization deployments).  In this case, workload demands can peak and change at almost any time.

Prior to HP’s acquisition of 3PAR, the XP and EVA storage solutions that HP offered could best be described as a fit for predictable workloads across a broad range of applications and deployments. However with the acquisition of 3PAR and it high end T-Class and midrange F-Class models, HP now has an offering for the growing number of virtual environments with unpredictable workloads.

So in terms of where 3PAR fits in HP’s current storage stack, it can probably best be summed up as follows:

HP XP (HDS)

3PAR T-Class

3PAR F-Class

HP EVA

HP P4000 (formerly Lefthand Networks)

Seeing that lineup somewhat answers the next two questions as to what HP plans to do with its current XP and EVA lines of storage. The short answer is that for now all of HP’s current storage offering are still on the table.

While there is arguably some overlap between the HP XP and 3PAR T-Class, one area where the HP XP still has a distinct advantage over all of HP’s other storage offerings, 3PAR or otherwise, is its mainframe connectivity. Further, to the best of my knowledge, HP has no plans in the near term to invest in providing mainframe connectivity for the 3PAR T-Class though in the long term, who knows?

So in all likelihood, HP’s relationship with Hitachi Ltd will not go away and the HP XP will continue to be a part of the HP StorageWorks portfolio for the foreseeable future. But my gut feeling is that HP will more aggressively push 3PAR storage in all of its enterprise accounts and only bring up the HP XP in accounts that need mainframe connectivity or where installed base preference exists for the XP.

A good measure of this will be next week on Wednesday when I attend the Q4 2010 VMwage User Group (VMUG) in Omaha where HP’s Technical Team will be in attendance and presenting at the event. I will be curious to see what storage HP will be pushing but my bet is already on 3PAR as I was just contacted yesterday by a former 3PAR sales rep (now HP) who will coincidentally be in town the same time as the event.

As to the future of HP EVA, long term I see the EVA continuing to provide fibre channel connectivity below the 3PAR F-Series and alongside the iSCSI-based HP P4000. The EVA installed base is massive and for those who appreciate the ease of use of the EVA and are deploying in more traditional, predictable workload environments, the EVA will continue to rule. 

One other minor question that people have also been wondering is, “Will the 3PAR name stick around?” While no one really knows for sure, my guess is probably not. HP wants its brand on everything and while 3PAR was fairly well known in the enterprise storage space, outside of that space, not so much.

So my sense is that based upon what HP did with Lefthand Networks and re-branding it the “P-Series”, I would expect sometime in the near future that the 3PAR brand will suffer the same fate as Lefthand Networks. However I can see the 3PAR “T-Class” and “F-Class” model designations for its InServ Storage Servers persevering as those seem to fit within the HP storage branding philosophy.

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Jerome M. Wendt

About Jerome M. Wendt

President & Founder of DCIG, LLC Jerome Wendt is the President and Founder of DCIG, LLC., an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Mr. Wendt founded the company in November 2007.

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