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3PAR vs. EVA: Which Storage Solution Offers More Value? [HP]

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on April 10, 2013 by David Davis

When HP completed the acquisition of 3PAR in September, 2010 for $2.35 billion, it was unclear what HP would do with 3PAR’s product line. HP already had a competing product in their EVA!

3PAR was the first to bring storage virtualization to the market and were a leader in thin provisioning. Many speculated that HP would have to end their EVA product line as both EVA and 3PAR were mid-to-high range products with overlapping features.

Instead of ending the HP EVA product line or ending 3PAR’s products (and just taking their intellectual property), HP continues to support and sell both 3PAR and EVA product lines to mid and high range enterprise customers.

Confused? Enterprises are still trying to figure out how these two similar products compare, and how to decide which solution will drive the best outcomes. Let’s quickly compare 3 points: terminology, architecture, capabilities and I’ll give you my recommendations.

3PAR and EVA Comparison
While EVA and 3PAR have any similar capabilities, they use different terminology. For example:

  • An EVA “controller” is a 3PAR “node”
  • The EVA “Command View” is the 3PAR “management console (MC)”
  • The EVA “XCS OS” is same as the “3PAR Operating system”
  • The EVA “2MB PSEG” is same as the 3PAR “Chunklet”
  • The EVA VDisk is same as the 3PAR Virtual Volume (VV)
  • The EVA disk group is same as the 3PAR common provisioning group (CPG)
  • The EVA business copy is same as the 3PAR virtual copy
  • The EVA continuous access is the same as the 3PAR remote copy

As you can see, if you are making the transition from EVA to 3PAR, there are some new terms you need to learn.

Where 3PAR and EVA Are Different
At first glance, the 3PAR and EVA arrays seem very similar. For example, both 3PAR and EVA use virtualized disk volumes for greater operational efficiencies and flexible day-to-day management.

However, upon further digging, there are significant differences.

The big differences that really set HP/3PAR StoreServ arrays apart

  • The Mesh-Active Cluster in 3PAR StorServ (see Calvin Zito’s ChalkTalk) vs. EVA’s traditional dual controller array.
  • 3PAR has a custom ASIC which offloads the CPU, enables Zero Detect, and mixed workload.
  • The max performance (IOPS and throughput) of 3PAR is roughly 5-8x that of a comparable EVA.
  • 3PAR is multi-tenant, EVA is not.
  • The thin technology in 3PAR outperforms EVA. For example, thin conversion and thin persistence are not available on EVA. In fact 3PAR is offering a 50% Get Thin Guarantee to EVA customers.
  • 3PAR offers autonomic tiering, EVA does not.
  • HP offers a double your VM density guarantee with 3PAR that allows you to host double the VMs with 3PAR versus a traditional array. EVA does not.
  • HP offers 3PAR Online Import for EVA software to migrate your data online from 3PAR to EVA, but not vice versa.
  • Storage federation is available with 3PAR to move data between 3PAR systems. EVA does not offer storage federation.
  • With 3PAR, you get one architecture that scales from mid-range to high-end. This architecture scales below the mid-range above the high-end range of EVA.
  • 3PAR has Peer Persistence for multi-site high availability. EVA does not.
  • HP is working on vSphere Metro Storage Cluster (vMSC) on 3PAR but i

** Special thanks to HP’s Calvin Zito (@HPStorageGuy on Twitter) for helping me to differentiate these two different HP storage solutions.

SQL Server 2012 and 3PAR StoreServ
Business critical SQL Server database systems are the most demanding workloads in the datacenter. They require:

  • High availability
  • High performance
  • High efficiency
  • Scalability
  • High quality of service

HP 3PAR StoreServ as a good storage solution for SQL Server systems because:

  • HP 3PAR StoreServ Adaptive Optimization has proven easy to use and powerful in managing quality of service for demanding workloads.
  • SQL Server 2012, changes added Availability Groups, allowing additional servers to be read-only secondary availability group nodes. HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage hosts data for both primary and secondary servers, maximizing performance while reducing overall costs.
  • The 3PAR StoreServ array snapshot system integrates well with SQL Server via the SQL Server remote snapshot management suite. The hardware foundation for snapshots is effective compared to other solutions e.g. the write on copy algorithms only fire once even if multiple snapshots are defined for the same data, reducing the performance penalty for hardware snapshots.
  • 3PAR federation capabilities such as Peer Motion further extend these benefits by allowing businesses to migrate from multiple storage arrays as part of either hardware refresh cycles or consolidation initiatives.

These benefits offer SQL Server infrastructures the best possible storage platform, even with mixed workloads!

My Recommendations
At the time that I’m writing this blog post, the current models of the HP EVA are P6350 and P6550. The 3PAR StoreServ is in its third generation and with the 7200, 7400, 10400, and 10800 being the currently models. HP has publicly said that they have no plans to discontinue the EVA during 2013. In fact, HP announced the P6000 line shortly after HP acquired 3PAR.

That being said, customers who need new storage and customers who currently use EVA must educate themselves on the 3PAR StoreServ product line as there are significant technological advantages (and perhaps even financial) benefits of using 3PAR StoreServ. For those running SQL Server 2012, the additional benefits make the latest HP 3PAR arrays a compelling solution.

To learn more about 3PAR, read our blog post How 3PAR Addresses The Biggest Part of IT’s Spend. If you are currently an EVA admin, check out HP’s Introduction to HP 3PAR StoreServ for the EVA Administrator.

Not sure which solution is right for you? Download our Storage Assessment PDF and see how you can leverage Softchoice Axis to discover your current capacity, growth requirements, aging hardware needs and more.

Additional reading I recommend for storage admins: An Introduction to HP 3PAR StoreServ for the EVA Administrator and HP 3PAR StoreServ Reference Configuration for Microsoft SQL Server OLTP.


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