In Part 1 of this blog, we dove deep into what we liked about the EMC XPECT MORE Program and how it stacked up to Forever Flash. Now, let’s talk about the HP 3PAR Get 6—Nines Guarantee. As I stated earlier, just because programs or features sound similar it doesn’t mean they are, so let’s dig into the claims a bit.

Availability in the Flash Era

As mission-critical application workloads (databases, virtual servers, virtual desktops) move to all flash arrays to overcome the bottlenecks of performance disk, non-disruptive operations for an always-on storage infrastructure have become an absolute must for enterprise all flash arrays – anything less is a non-starter. All flash arrays must deliver:

  1. 99.999+% availability. This means that customers experience less than five and a half minutes of downtime per year.
  2. Full performance and availability under controller or SSD failure.
  3. Full performance and availability during hardware upgrades, expansions and replacements.
  4. Full performance and availability during software upgrades.
  5. Dual parity RAID for protection during simultaneous SSD failures and errors.

Maintaining full performance during upgrades or failures is critical for maintaining consistent application service levels. All Flash Arrays are deployed in performance-intensive, multi-application consolidation environments where delivering high and consistent levels of performance is paramount to delivering predictable application service levels.

While traditional disk-optimized storage arrays maintain data availability, they can suffer anywhere between 25 – 50+% performance loss during a controller failure. Data remains available, but the performance loss effectively equates to application “brown out”, i.e. the application becomes unresponsive to the point of disruption to the application users. Availability must be redefined to include “data availability” and “full performance” during failures or upgrades.

Enter HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee

HP announced the HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee a few months back to offer 6-Nines availability to HP 3PAR customers, including ones deploying its 7450 all flash array. The Get 6-Nines Guarantee covers the following:

  • Guarantees 99.9999% data availability. This means that customers experience only 31.5 seconds of downtime per year.
  • Remedy: HP funds 3 additional months of HP Mission Critical Support, if availability drops below 6-Nines.
  • Customers must purchase HP Mission Critical Support.
  • Minimum 4-node 3PAR system is required.
  • Subject to customer qualification and compliance with the Get 6-Nines Guarantee Terms and Conditions, which are provided to customers by HP Sales or Channel Partner representative.

You can read more about the HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee here.

HP 3PAR 6-Nines Guarantee Analysis

While we applaud HP for attempting to offer a better customer experience, the HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee falls short of this goal in our assessment and instead looks a lot like an upsell in disguise for the premium support offering – HP Mission Critical Support. Let’s dive in and see why:

  1. Why is buying HP Mission Critical support required to get better availability? 6-Nines availability is a product feature…and requires reliability built into the product itself, not the service offering. If a customer ever has to call for service, then the 6-nines SLA will have been violated already anyway (31.5 seconds/year downtime SLA).
  1. What good is 6-Nines availability if 25 – 50+% performance is lost under failure / upgrades? HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee covers data availability, but based on the information available does NOT cover performance. A 3PAR 7450 will lose 25 – 50+% performance during controller failure or software updates under load. More often than not, this could lead to application “brown out” (i.e. disruption), even though the 3PAR 7450 will keep the data available, per the 6-Nines Guarantee. Isn’t the objective to deliver predictable service level and avoid disruption to application users, not just keep the data available?
  1. Does 6-Nines (data, not performance) availability cost outweigh its benefit? As the famous saying goes: there is no free lunch! Customers will have to pay a hefty premium (2 – 3x) for HP Mission Critical Support vs. HP Proactive Care (basic support) to opt into the Get 6-Nines Guarantee – all for the promise of 283 seconds lower allowed downtime per year between 5 9’s and 6 9’s availability. Is the cost worth it, especially when performance loss can still land you in application “brown outs”? And how did paying 2x – 3x more for support suddenly make my storage array more reliable? Customers should ask themselves if this is worth it.
  1. Remedy for missing the 6-Nines Guarantee doesn’t address the cost of downtime to the customer’s business. Around the Storage Block Blog post on Get 6-Nines Guarantee quotes several examples of business impact due to 283 seconds of downtime in today’s world: Amazon missing out on selling over 120,500 items during Christmas season, Twitter unable to post over 1.6M tweets, Google missing out on providing advertising for over 11.3M searches, and so on. Yet, if these organizations were HP 3PAR customers who had opted into the Get 6-Nines Guarantee, they would have received 3 FREE months of HP Mission Critical Support for HP 3PAR missing the mark on the 6-Nines Guarantee – that is, after they would have already paid out of pocket a far larger incremental cost for the HP Mission Critical Support to opt-in to the Get 6-Nines Guarantee.
  1. Human Error tends to be a leading cause of downtime. Even the best and dedicated service personnel can occasionally cause human errors during maintenance events, resulting in downtime. In a large organization, service personnel are typically responsible for servicing multiple product lines spanning products from several business divisions. As a result, proficiency in any single product becomes a challenge. And, lack of proficiency can manifest itself in higher rates of human errors during maintenance events. Customers should ask HP Support if the support staff that will support their troubleshooting and maintenance events is dedicated to HP 3PAR.
  1. Why are customers subject to qualification and why are the Get 6-Nines Guarantee Terms and Conditions hidden? Each customer has to qualify and HP Sales or Channel Partner Representative provides the Terms and Conditions directly to customer. Custom qualification and non-public Ts & Cs raise our suspicion meter that 6-Nines Guarantee comes with non-publicized constraints and caveats that can lower the perceived benefits of 3PAR 7450. Customer should read the fine print of HP 3PAR 6-Nines Guarantee Terms and Conditions and assess whether it will blunt their ROI.

Comparing Pure Storage Availability / Forever Flash with HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee

Let’s look at how HP 3PAR 7450 with Get 6-Nines Guarantee compares with the Availability in the Flash Era recipe presented above:


Pure Storage has set the bar for non-disruptive operations with full performance for an Always-On all flash storage infrastructure with proven greater than 99.999% availability, non-disruptive operations with full performance, and simultaneous dual SSD failure protection per RAID group. And, we have continued to drive further innovation to drive better experience for customers:

  • Support excellence: We have a highly trained and dedicated support staff that has a maniacal focus on support excellence. We have removed L1 support, so customers can avoid the basic, repetitive questions and speak directly with proficient L2 support personnel for timely troubleshooting of any issues. Our Advanced Support offering (basic support) rivals premium support offerings of other vendors.
  • Better business model with Forever Flash for avoiding “maintenance extortion” and extending storage array lifecycle.

The best part is the real winners are customers. Pure Storage customers enjoy industry-leading customer satisfaction that is 2 – 3x higher than that of the incumbent storage vendors.

Hopefully, we’ve raised enough thought-provoking questions and considerations that customers can use in making their own judgment on the value of HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee. Customers don’t have to wait for mature all flash arrays that deliver on Availability for the Flash Era. They are here today! Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to show you how FlashArray provides an Always-On infrastructure and delights customers.