Gartner recently positioned Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) as a leader in the market for general-purpose storage arrays. In fact, HPE provides a rich variety of data storage solutions to meet the needs of organizations large and small. With such a wide range of products, however, it can be confusing to determine which is the right HPE data storage solution for your organization. In this article, we look at the major brands in the HPE storage line-up and explain where they fit within the overall storage landscape.

HPE 3PAR StoreServ

HPE 3PAR delivers Tier-1 all-flash and hybrid-flash storage arrays designed for midrange to enterprise scale storage area networks (SANs). These arrays provide storage for applications and middleware, such as databases, backup/restore systems and archiving solutions running on physical or virtual servers.

The 3PAR StoreServ brand is the flash powerhouse of the HPE line-up. Built to “meet the extreme requirements of massively consolidated cloud service providers”, HPE 3PAR can significantly improve latency and bandwidth across a wide variety of business applications.

With 3PAR arrays, you can scale from just a few terabytes (TB) to more than 20 petabytes (PB) of data. Designed to handle unpredictable workloads, the 3PAR StoreServ family of arrays is also highly reliable - guaranteeing 99.9999% data availability.

Recently, HPE has made HPE Infosight available on all 3PAR StoreServe models. This brings the pioneering machine learning-based predictive maintenance and infrastructure management solution acquired along with Nimble, to the entire 3PAR product line.

3PAR shipped their first array in 2002, branding themselves as a pioneer of thin provisioning – the ability to create a volume and logical unit number (LUN) without dedicating physical storage until it is actually needed. After being acquired by Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) in 2010, 3PAR has continued to innovate in the storage array market and today ranks as one of the top midrange storage arrays in the industry and one of the most popular all-flash arrays. At the time of this writing, there are three product lines within the HPE 3PAR StoreServ family, the 8000, 9000, and 20000.
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StoreServ 8000

If you’re looking for a Tier-1 all-flash storage array on a budget, then the HPE 3PAR StoreServ 8000 might be a good choice. The StoreServ 8000 is an enterprise-class all-flash array that provides high-performance features usually found in more expensive arrays. For example, the new HPE 3PAR Gen5 Thin Express ASIC provides silicon-based hardware acceleration of thin technologies, including inline deduplication.

The StoreServ 8000 is available as all SSD or hybrid SSD/HDD and supports both Fibre Channel (FC) and iSCSI protocols. It provides a maximum raw storage capacity of up to 3.3 PB. It is available as either a 2-node or 4-node system.

StoreServ 9000

The StoreServ 9000 is an enterprise-class flash array that, like the StoreServ 8000, simplifies the consolidation of datacenter applications and workloads from legacy storage onto a high-performance flash array solution.

Unlike the StoreServ 8000, the 9000 is available only with all-flash drives. It supports both FC and iSCSI protocols. The maximum raw capacity is 6.0 PB.

Because the StoreServe 9000 is all flash, HPE can provide high-performance options like NVMe. Specifically, the StoreServe 9000 supports a 750GB NVMe Module that provides Storage Class Memory (SCM). The non-volatile memory express (NVMe) controller interface and storage protocol parallelize access while SCM provides an order of magnitude faster performance than SSD.

StoreServ 20000

The StoreServ 20000 is the top-of-the-line product in the 3PAR family, designed for massive consolidation of today’s most demanding workloads. An 8-node system can deliver more than 3 million IOPS with sub-millisecond latency, and scale up to 24 PB. It is available as all-flash or hybrid SSD/HDD.

Like the 9000, the StoreServe 20000 is also available with the 750GB NVMe SCM Module for ultra-high performance. It also comes equipped with the Gen5 Thin Express ASIC for hardware acceleration.

HPE Nimble

The HPE Nimble family, like HPE 3PAR, provide all-flash and hybrid-flash storage arrays. While 3PAR is focussed on enterprise solutions, the HPE Nimble arrays are designed for simplicity and reliability. Nimble provides less expensive entry-level solutions than 3PAR and does not compete at the top end for large enterprise customers. However, there is some overlap between the two product families in the mid-sized company market.

Nimble Storage was founded in 2008 and announced its first series of hybrid arrays on July 2010. Over the next 7 years Nimble experienced rapid growth and on March 7th, 2017 the company was acquired by HPE for $1.09 billion.

After its acquisition, the brand was recognized as product of the year in 2018 for its combination of performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.

Nimble is extremely cost-effective to operate because of the AI/Machine Learning system, InfoSight, that monitors the arrays, analyzes the data, and alerts IT staff to perform predictive maintenance to head off any downtime. The InfoSight system has since been extended to the HPE 3PAR storage family as well as HPE server families including ProLiant, BladeSystem, Synergy, and Apollo.

HPE Nimble Storage All-Flash Arrays

HPE Nimble storage all-flash arrays offer a flash-efficient architecture with HPE InfoSight predictive analytics to ensure 99.9999% guaranteed reliable access to data. Nimble all-flash arrays are easy to deploy and immediately ready to use.

Nimble all-flash arrays are cloud-ready, providing organizations with the convenience of mobile data through HPE Cloud Volumes. These systems are 65% faster in terms of performance when compared to previous models and offer twice the scalability.

The HPE Nimble has also been future-proofed for new technologies, such as storage class memory (SCM), a low latency storage media, and non-volatile memory express (NVMe), a new data protocol for accessing high-speed storage media.

HPE Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash Arrays

If you need an economic alternative that approaches the performance of all-flash storage then HPE Nimble’s Adaptive Flash (AF) arrays are a viable option.

These systems are hybrid, meaning they use a combination of solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). This allows companies to enjoy the low cost of HDDs for infrequently accessed data while enjoying the high-performance levels of SSDs for data they access more often. In this way, HPE Nimble Adaptive Flash Arrays are designed to handle both primary and secondary flash workloads. No end-user intervention for tiering. HPE Nimble Adaptive Flash Arrays automatically migrate the more frequently accessed data into tier-1 (SSD) storage.

Nimble / 3PAR Overlap

While there is overlap between 3PAR and Nimble for mid-sized companies, HPE is working to simplify positioning for the two product families based on customer buying profile and application requirements. The 3PAR StoreServ is positioned to appeal to datacenters, where scalable performance and resiliency are critical. The Nimble AF-series is positioned for newcomers to the storage array market who are looking for simplicity, resiliency and cloud integration.

HPE now offers cloud integration for both StoreServ and Nimble products, but with different capabilities. StoreServ has HPE Cloud Bank Storage, which enables cloud storage backup, while Nimble offers HPE Cloud Volumes, which has native integration with public cloud providers. Lastly, both products leverage efficient use of cost-effective SSD technology, and both feature data reduction capabilities, such as deduplication and compression supported by recently improved data efficiency guarantees to match any competitive program.

HPE MSA Storage

HPE MSA delivers affordable entry-level storage solutions and is ideal for small to midsize businesses and remote office workloads. With over half a million arrays deployed to date, MSA has the distinct honor of being the leading entry-level FC SAN platform for 8 consecutive years.

HPE MSA Storage provides 1.6 TB of initial SSD capacity and offers dynamic built-in tiering. It’s a great hybrid flash array for accelerating your applications. HPE MSA Storage also comes with a software suite that provides management tools and snapshots for data recovery.

When you’re ready to scale, you can add additional flash or HDD capacity, providing flexibility for your organization. MSA Storage products span a wide range of capabilities as shown by the models discussed below: 1050, 2052, and 2050.

MSA 1050

HPE MSA 1050 SAN Storage is a flash-ready storage array that’s optimized to accommodate even the tightest budgets. The MSA 1050 will meet entry-level storage requirements making it a good choice for customers who are handling smaller IT workloads.

The MSA 1050 supports FC, iSCSI, and SAS host interface connectivity. It is a popular choice for organizations running small numbers of HPE ProLiant servers.

MSA 2050

The MSA 2050 is a higher-performance version of the 1050 that is flash-ready and designed for small and remote office deployments. Scale up with any combination of SSDs, high-performance HDDs, or lower-cost midline SAS-based drives. With the MSA 2050, you pay for only the disk performance that your applications need.

MSA 2052

A step up from the MSA 2050 in terms of price and performance, the MSA 2052 starts with 1.6 TB of flash storage included and can scale up, like the 2050, with any combination of SSDs or HDDs. When configured for performance, it can deliver more than 200,000 IOPS.

HPE StoreEasy

The HPE StoreEasy is a mid-range NAS (network attached storage) solution designed for secure storage of images, video, audio, and document files. The HPE StoreEasy is available with standard hard disk drives (HDDs) or hybrid flash (SSDs), offering a combination of affordability and high performance. Capacity can be added as your business scales and your storage needs an increase.

The StoreEasy 1660 can scale to 16 large form factor (LFF) drives in just 2U. If you need higher performance and more storage, the StoreEasy 1860 can scale up to 28 small form factor (SFF) drives in 2U with a second CPU, optional 10Gbe network connectivity, and 24 memory DIMMs.

In addition to the 1660 and 1860 storage appliances, there is the StoreEasy 3000 Gateway. The StoreEasy 3000 enables you to make capacity from your SAN act like NAS storage.

HPE Storage File Controllers

In addition to providing a NAS solution through HPE StoreEasy, HPE also provides Storage File Controllers that can front-end any of the SAN products (3PAR, Nimble, or MSA) to provide NAS file sharing services backed by SAN arrays.

These solutions are built on HPE ProLiant DNA and Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2016 to provide a straightforward, consistent management experience for storage administrators. These 1U servers are easy to install and provide a simple way to add high-performance file services and your HPE array or SAN.

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The data storage products offered by Hewlett Packard Enterprise can be confusing to sort through if you don’t have a goal in mind when you begin investigating data storage solutions for your organization. The two most significant factors that will determine the best solution for your organization are your budget and application workloads.

If you’re looking for lightning fast storage systems at the enterprise level and you’re working with a large budget then the 3PAR StoreServ family may provide your best options. Small to midsize businesses with smaller budgets may find a better fit with the Nimble or MSA product families. Those needing a NAS file storage solution should look at StoreEasy or at complementing one of SAN arrays with HPE Storage File Controller.

Data storage technology is evolving every day and the overall storage landscape is constantly changing. Do your research to find the data storage solution that’s best suited for your organization.

IIS - Your Partner for HPE Data Storage

International Integrated Solutions (IIS) is a managed service provider and system integrator with deep expertise in HPE storage solutions and the entire HPE product line. IIS is a distinguished HPE partner, winning HPE Global Partner of the Year in 2016 and Arrow’s North American Reseller Partner of the Year in 2017.

As your service provider, IIS brings deep expertise and experience. Having solved a myriad of problems for hundreds of customers, they bring a holistic view of the datacenter that includes storage as a component. IIS can help your organization make the best storage decisions in the context of your existing datacenter infrastructure and workloads.

Ed Karasinski

Written by Ed Karasinski