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HP 3PAR StoreServ Double Density: Delivering twice the VM density versus traditional arrays Login

HP 3PAR StoreServ Double Density: Delivering twice the VM density versus traditional arrays

Why does storage performance matter? There are few storage administrators who have not witnessed an unhappy moment where lack of storage performance brought an application to its knees. But quantifying how storage performance matters, aside from serving as insurance to avoid an application crippling moment, is a tricky proposition.

One way is in terms of how storage performance determines the efficiency of the infrastructure. When all else is equal and well tuned – hypervisors, servers, networks – then storage becomes a precious commodity that can determine just how many workloads or applications a given infrastructure can support, and therefore how efficiently it can operate at scale.

When it comes to virtualization, this workload density has serious impacts, but fortunately is even easier to assess. A number of years ago, Taneja Group started out testing workload density among competitive hypervisors, and we labeled it VM density – a measure of how many VMs similar systems can run without compromises in performance or usability. Our net findings clearly indicated how big of an impact a small difference in VM density can have. When poor VM density makes it necessary to add more servers and hypervisors, the cost of servers is costly enough, but licensing tools like vSphere suites can add up to many thousands of dollars and dwarf hardware costs. Meanwhile, with more servers/hypervisors comes more complexity and management overhead, along with operational data center costs (power, cooling, floorspace). The consequences can easily run to tens of thousands of dollars per server. At large scale, superior VM density can easily add up to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for a business.

We’ve long suggested that storage performance is one of the biggest contributors to VM density, but few vendors have been brave enough to step forward and declare that their own storage system can take VM density farther than anyone else’s. Well times have changed.

Approximately 6 months ago, HP made a bold promise with their 3PAR storage systems – guaranteeing that customers moving to HP 3PAR storage, from traditional legacy storage, will double the VM density of their existing server infrastructure. Better yet, HP’s promise wasn’t about more spindles, but rather the efficiency and power of their 3PAR StoreServ storage controller architecture – they made this promise even when the customer’s old storage system contained the same disk spindles. Our minds were immediately beset with questions – could a storage system replacement really double the workload density of most virtual infrastructures? We knew from experience that most customers are indeed IO constrained, we’ve had at least several hundred conversations with customers fighting virtual infrastructure performance problems where at the end of the day, the issue is storage performance. But a promise to double the density of these infrastructures is indeed aggressive.

It goes without saying that at Taneja Group, we were more than eager to put this claim to the test. We approached HP in mid-2012 with a proposal to do just that by standing up a 3PAR StoreServ storage array against a similar class, traditional architecture storage array. The test proved more interesting when HP provided us with only the smallest of their 3PAR StoreServ product line at that time (an F200) and a competitive system made up of the biggest controllers available in another popular but traditional architecture mid-range array. Moreover, that traditional system, while first entering the market in 2007/2008, could still be purchased at the time of testing, and is only on the edge of representing the more dated systems envisioned by HP’s Double Density promise. 

Our Findings: After having this equipment made available for our exclusive use during several months of 2012, we have a clear and undeniable conclusion: HP 3PAR StoreServ storage is quite definitely capable of doubling VM density versus typical storage systems.

Publish date: 12/03/12

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