Why is 3PAR so important and why are they getting billion dollar offers?
Fellow Network Computing contributor Howard Marks outlines the
specifics in his most recent
In short, 3PAR has been an innovator in the space. My concern with
Dell-3PAR or HP-3PAR is wondering whether innovation will continue? Also, s HP
prepared to make the hard choice to end its EVA storage solution?
First in the spirt of disclosure, 3PAR has been a client of Storage Switzerland and we have always, since 3PAR first came to market, been impressed with their technology. My opinion is that industry is better as a result of 3PAR. They were one of the first to bring storage virtualization to the market, and with it, brought capabilities like thin provisioning and wide striping to the enterprise. 3PAR was so early with thin provisioning, I can remember other vendors not even understanding what it meant.
When 3PAR began gaining traction, one
vendor in particular started writing white papers and giving
presentations on the dangers of thin provisioning. Interestingly those
papers suddenly disappeared when those vendors brought out their own
versions of thin provisioning. 3PAR did not stop at thin
provisioning, they advanced it. As we discuss in our article "Keeping
they advanced thin provisioning to address its key weaknesses,
space reclamation and initial migration.
We want innovative companies like 3PAR and others to keep doing what they do best: innovating, not get lost in a sea of storage products, then have all the core engineering people leave and have the product stagnate. This is where product overlap and the intentions of the winning bidder become important.
From an overlap perspective, in the SMB space, both Dell and HP have solid solutions with their respective LeftHand and EqualLogic storage systems. 3PAR competed in the mid-range to high-end enterprise so there was likely no overlap there. For enterprise storage projects, Dell, I assume, would have allowed their current EMC relationship to fade into the sunset.
Most new enterprise storage projects would have used 3PAR
technology. HP, on the other hand, already has EVA and their Hitachi based
XP arrays. Typically, the EVA is positioned at the mid-range, the XP at
the high-end enterprise. As I discussed in a recent
an OEM deal, like Dell-EMC or the HP-Hitachi, is easier to let go of
than technology that you have invested your own blood, sweat and tears
into, like HP's EVA.
EVA is going to be the real rub for HP. EVA is HP's baby. They developed, via Compaq, the product years ago. It is a storage virtualization technology. It already has some overlap with the Lefthand product in the lower end of the market. In the enterprise, EVA would not just overlap with 3PAR, they are direct replacements for each other. If HP wants to see the 3PAR product prosper, the only viable solution I think would be for HP to end of life the EVA.
Getting rid of the EVA is going to be hard for HP to do. Its hard to get rid of something that you invented and have invested in for over ten years. They have a decent sized EVA customer base that would be left in the lurch. How do you stay with a product that has been discontinued? By comparison, if Dell ended the EMC relationship, those customers that bought EMC from Dell would have an option of staying with EMC or listening to what Dell-3PAR had to say. Not pretty, but the customer would have a choice.
My guess is that HP does not end the EVA product line. Instead they somehow try to mash all these products into a "strategy" which is code for having them all fit into their own little slot on a powerpoint slide. My concern is that HP will in essence pay 1.6 billion, or maybe more, to slow the development in both products: EVA and 3PAR. I hope that HP proves me wrong or that Dell comes up with more cash.