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3Par Slashes Storage Array Costs

3Par dramatically improves the performance of corporate storage arrays with the announcement of its support for Solid State Drives (SSD) in its autonomic storage arrays, the InServ Storage Server F-Class and T-Class storage servers. SSDs, the sort of small drives that you might find in an iPod or other consumer electronics, provide incredibly fast storage access. They're widely being seen as an alternative to higher-priced Fibre Channel access for commonly accessed files. With SSDs, IT would continue to use SATA drives for about 98 to 95 percent of their storage needs and then integrate SSDs for the two to five percent of files that are commonly accessed, says Craig Nunes, vice president of marketing at 3Par.

Cost savings are a big driver for deploying SSD. Incorporating SSDs into the array should yield about a 30 percent savings, says Nunes. Other savings will come from the environment as well. "In this kind of system you could go from 200, 73GB drives to get enough IOPS to 50, 300GB drives and some SSD saving MUCH floor space and power with an improvement in performance," says Howard Marks, founder of and a Network Computing contributor.

The determination of which data sets are active or being frequently accessed is made automatically by 3Par's Adaptive Optimization Software. To support the introduction of SSDs, 3Par has also introduced a sub-volume, data-movement engine. Previously, 3Par could only assess performance of specific drive volumes, but with the introduction of SSDs, 3Par can now assess traffic based on block-sized regions. When the software sees I/O activity that is high within the region, it will move the data up to faster the SSDs. When it sees the performance drop off for a region then it will move the file back to the SATA drives.

"3Par isn't the first vendor to introduce SSDs and block-sized movement in its storage array and in SSDs its playing catch up", notes Marks. "Compellent has done so for some time in smaller firms. EMC provided SSD support albeit without sub-lun movement nearly two years ago", he says.

3Par Adaptive Optimization software is available immediately. SSDs for the 3Par InServ will be available next quarter and are compatible with all InServ F-Class and T-Class arrays running the latest version of the 3Par InForm Operating System. 3Par Adaptive Optimization software is an optional product that starts at $1,400 and requires 3Par System Reporter software, version 2.7 or newer. Pricing for SSDs starts at $22,400 per InServ array.