HP Flat SAN connectivity reduces complexity and cost
July 2014 by HP - Original article
“HP Flat SAN has simplified things for us because it’s given us direct connectivity between the blade servers and 3PAR storage with less cabling and no intermediate hops. You can’t get better performance than native-to-native and not having to buy fiber channel fabric has also kept the costs down.”
Scaling up to provide a lifeline for SMBs
Christchurch, New Zealand has a history of earthquakes and vBridge offers hosted infrastructure services that are a lifeline for local SMBs. To achieve 200 percent per annum growth, vBridge needed to scale up its infrastructure; which led them to choose HP Converged Infrastructure technologies that included HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 storage with HP ProLiant blades in an HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure with HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port modules. Cost and complexity are reduced by HP Flat SAN direct connectivity.
Introducing a standardized desktop Disaster recovery is a common term in today’s IT world where continuous availability of computer systems is business critical. Most companies associate it with events like a power failure or component malfunction, but it has a different and far more dramatic connotation for the people of New Zealand.
Since 2010, the region around Christchurch has experienced more than 10,300 earthquakes and aftershocks. In September 2010 and February 2011, the largest quakes in recent times had very serious consequences for residents and left many businesses without vital infrastructure. As well as immediate help, companies needed long-term protection for their critical data and they also had to concentrate 100 percent on getting back to business. Combine these needs with the increased popularity of cloud computing and it explains the dramatic growth of Christchurch-based vBridge.
Founded in 2010 by partners Hamish Roy and John Ward, vBridge is a hosted infrastructure services company. When selecting hardware for the new business, the partners deployed 13 HP LeftHand P4300 G2 storage systems and 12 HP LeftHand P4500 G2 storage systems. They also implemented HP ProLiant DL380 servers virtualized with VMware vSphere 5. However, with business growing at 200 percent a year, vBridge soon needed to scale up its infrastructure.
“Growth is down to new customers but also to increases in existing business,” says Hamish Roy, director of vBridge. “Storage is a massive growth area for us and people are starting to understand what cloud services can do for them. In Christchurch, they also need to work on their business rather than on their IT and are keen to keep operational costs down. Our most critical business requirements were high availability and matching capacity to performance.”
Scalable infrastructure vBridge has implemented an HP Converged Infrastructure technologies that included three HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 2-node storage systems, three HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosures with twelve HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8 server blades and HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric interconnect 10Gb/24-Port modules. These are deployed across three data centers providing geographic redundancy. HP Proactive Care Services provide both proactive and reactive hardware and software support on the StoreServ and c7000 enclosure.
The new solution also features HP Flat SAN, a direct attach single layer SAN connection between the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port module and HP 3PAR storage. Flat SAN technology is specifically designed to directly connect converged data centers and blade servers to 3PAR with fiber channel (FC) cabling. By eliminating a whole layer of FC SAN switches, Flat SAN technology strips out complexity and cost while significantly reducing the number of components and end-to-end latency. With the HP Virtual Connect “Wire-Once”, change-ready architecture, the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-Port module and 3PAR Flat SAN solution deliver radical simplification of server and storage connectivity by reducing components, lowering TCO and simplifying management.
“After looking around at other vendors we went for HP because we needed a platform that had a good future roadmap and would scale at a good pricepoint. We were pretty excited by the HP 3PAR array and having worked closely with HP we knew that the 7000 series was going to be hitting the market and would fit our size and scale,”
“We also realized that HP Flat SAN really would keep the costs down because we would not have to buy fiber channel fabric and would just have fewer parts to install, configure and support. It supported direct connects to our HP BladeSystem, so there were no intermediate hops for the fiber channel traffic and it simplified management considerably.
“The implementation went well and we had good support from HP. We were the first company in New Zealand to buy an HP 7200 and to direct connect it. We had a lot of support from the local HP product managers in terms of working out how many discs were needed to meet our performance and capacity requirements and to work out levels of availability through the RAID sets. With 3PAR you can cut it and slice it many different ways so we put forward our business requirements and they came back with the technical requirements.”
The 3PAR system provides TB103 storage capacity to add to the TB30 of usable storage already on the existing LeftHand equipment.
Removing fiber channel switches saved around NZ$18k on each bill of materials (BOM). That equates to around 20 percent of the total purchase cost per site. vBridge now has approximately 33 percent fewer devices to support and fewer devices in the chain that could fail. Also fewer devices to troubleshoot in the event of a storage fault.
“To use a highly technical word, the new system screams. It’s really fast,” jokes Roy. “It’s given us a lot of horsepower and the thin provisioning is fantastic. We see huge disc storage benefits by using HP 3PAR Thin Persistence software and HP 3PAR StoreServ ASIC. With Thin Provisioning, and HP Zero Detect we’re storing 40 percent more data on the same number of disks with no performance impact. This mean we don’t need to have a large array so we’re saving about 50 percent on our power usage which equates to NZ$20k a year.
Zero Detect comes through the ASIC in the 3PAR array. It watches the stream of data and when it sees a number of zeros it saves space by not writing that data to the disk drive. “ We have to stand behind what we’re offering to our customers and we do that with HP Converged Infrastructure technologies because they’re not only reliable, but are also constantly innovating and driving change.”
“Flat SAN has simplified things for us because it’s allowed us to direct connect with the option to move to SAN fabric at a later date and the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric module is great because we’ve got the high speed uplinks so we can dynamically change the apportionment of bandwidth. We’ve got far less cabling running between the chassis and our core switching environment compared to the P4500s where there were hundreds of cables running everywhere. This results in a NZ$20k saving on switching, simplified configuration and support. “It has also helped us manage our costs as a hosting provider so that we can provide market leading pricing to our customers. It’s about the product being robust and reliable so that we can offer the reliable uptime metrics and guarantee them to our customers that performance is as good if not better than they had.
“Our niche is that we offer customers more than they had before in terms of availability and security and this platform does that. We’ve had zero downtime even though we were experiencing a lot of aftershocks from the earthquakes.”