Businesses investing in top-of-the-range data storage solutions will be keenly aware of the impressive reputation that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has built around its Nimble Storage and 3PAR StoreServ offerings.
In recent years, the two brands have become known for providing industry-leading performance and operational benefits that cannot be found elsewhere.
Although both products share the HPE branding and benefit from the technology giant’s commitment to cutting-edge performance, they are also quite different offerings in many ways, with each product providing its own unique capabilities.
As such, companies will need to weigh up the respective strengths of Nimble and 3PAR in order to find the right storage solution for their needs.
In this blog, Checkmark IT’s Technical Director Stephen Wild lays out the key differences between HPE Nimble and HPE 3PAR StoreServ, to help you come to the right choice about which technology will suit your business best...
HPE 3PAR StoreServ - a feature-rich solution for unrivalled performance
HPE designed 3PAR StoreServ as an enterprise-class storage array solution, combining a unified operating system with features that support varied and complex workloads.
With a rich software suite, a focus on high utilisation and performance, and a design that has been built from the ground up for virtualisation, 3PAR is the platform of choice for businesses with unpredictable, mixed workloads and cloud delivery models.
One of the key advantages of 3PAR is that it uses the same operating system across the entire product range, from the entry-level 8000 series array to the highly expandable multimodal 20000 series. This allows users to maintain a sense of continuity and avoid the need for retraining, even if their environment grows, or they move to or combine any of the larger arrays in the 3PAR range.
Moreover, 3PAR with thin provisioning and data integrity and utilisation in mind, with the design of the system enshrining these features as core components.
3PAR storage controllers have built-in silicon ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits), which handle key adaptive data reduction functions, such as Zero Detect for virtual environments and deduplication. This allows the storage controllers to focus on their primary function - namely, to drive performance and manage the stored data efficiently.
Another key benefit of 3PAR is that a vast suite of software comes included as part of the purchase price, including a Virtual Copy tool for snapshotting virtual domains and separating your 3PAR system into multiple virtual SANs for hosted and service providers.
It also features dynamic optimisation tools, helping administrators to make decisions on where data sits on the array, as well as adaptive optimisation tools that learn and self-optimise over time.
These arrays are able to develop an adaptive understanding of where data should sit in the array, moving frequently accessed data to better-performing tiers, while the sub-LUN tiering built into the array ensures that only the critical parts of the data sit on the most performant disks.
Priority optimisation allows organisations to reach guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) standards on key business applications, by making sure that they receive the correct amount of performance to ensure user satisfaction; this can be set as a hard guarantee (e.g. “this application must always have 20,000 IOPS of performance”) or as a sliding scale (e.g. “the application needs 20,000 IOPS, but can burst out to 30,000 at peak times”). This feature is only restricted by the total performance available in your disk configuration.
It should also be remembered that 3PAR offers enterprise-class replication, with both synchronous and asynchronous replication features, as well as asynchronous streaming for long-distance near-sync replication, combined with peer persistence and peer motion tools. This allows users to load-balance multiple arrays and provide unrivalled data protection.
Peer motion is also fully supported within VMware metro clusters, further underlining the enterprise-class business continuity benefits that 3PAR provides.
HPE Nimble Storage - a flexible, cost-effective flash storage platform that prioritises availability
HPE Nimble Storage has been designed with different technology at its heart, prioritising competitive pricing and a predictive flash storage infrastructure that essentially eliminates the threat of downtime, maximises productivity and delivers an ongoing return on investment. Technology analysts Gartner have identified Nimble as the current leader in the flash storage market, recognising its flexible performance and availability benefits.
Nimble utilises caching technology to write hot data straight to the SSD layer, before stripping the data to lower-cost, large-format nearline disks. Unlike traditional arrays, the spinning disk and SSD components do not directly add performance to the array, meaning Nimble arrays drive their performance directly from the CPU and RAM capabilities of the controllers.
Compared to 3PAR, Nimble’s software suite is leaner, with key features including software encryption, snapshotting deduplication and compression replication, as well as both asynchronous and synchronous replication features.
The most important software-based feature associated with Nimble is the sophisticated analytics platform InfoSight, which is able to automatically gather millions of data points about the performance of the array and its associated applications in real time, allowing 80% of all faults to be fixed responsively and proactively before they affect the environment.
This makes it easier to deal with any serious faults within the array or its software environment - administrators making support calls can be put straight through to a level three HPE engineer, as all of the data that would usually be requested by first and second-level engineers has already been gathered by InfoSight.
Additionally, InfoSight can draw upon analytics data from the entire current Nimble user community, giving administrators the ability to size up and see what a typical workload would look like by comparing it to pre-existing data models from the Nimble install base.
This provides a clear idea of the resources and capacity that might be required for their applications, and helps them to get the very most from their Nimble storage platform.
Checkmark IT works directly with HPE to supply Nimble and 3PAR arrays to organisations and IT departments across many different sectors. If you would like to find out more about the respective pros and cons of each platform, our experts are well-placed to help you scope, design and implement a solution that will work for your organisation.