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3PAR Touts Dynamic Interface

3PAR says it can simplify tiered storage management for enterprises, in much the same way it simplified provisioning two years ago. But competitors claim to have gotten there first.

3PAR claims a new option for its arrays, dubbed 3PAR Dynamic Optimization, lets IT managers assign data to different RAID levels, disks, and even different parts of disks inside one array (a feature 3PAR calls "radial placement"). The approach gives users tiered storage without kludgey setups of multiple arrays and disks, the vendor says. Of course, the users will need to be smart enough to make use of the new feature.

3PAR's CEO David Scott insists Dynamic Optimization is the most important announcement he's made since 3PAR introduced "thin provisioning" in 2003 (see 3PAR Spins Disk Trick). In addition to reducing ILM hassles, he suggests the new feature can be used to create different classes of data storage services inside organizations. Cheaper drives, less processing power, and less RAID effort could be used for older data in a "silver" service, for instance. Newer, more strategic data needing greater levels of reliability and performance could be assigned "gold" and "platinum" service levels.

Figure 1: Class-of-Service Assignments With Dynamic Optimization

Source: 3PAR

Analyst reception is positive, so far. "In general, it's an exciting announcement from 3PAR, the ability to give their customers as well as their customers' prospects the ability to have unified tiered storage with the ability to dynamically optimize it," says Greg Schulz, senior analyst at the Evaluator Group. Besides the cost of additional hardware that fine-tuning storage required in the past, he says, downtime resulted as data was transferred from one array to another.

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