Buried in the avalanche of product and services announcements made at the HP Global Partner Conference this week was one piece of storage hardware. The company quietly announced the latest member of the LeftHand P4000 SAN portfolio, the P4900.

HP joins a growing number of storage industry players — veterans and startups alike — that are incorporating flash memory into their storage offerings. In recent weeks, IBM has begun to offer an SSD option on its XIV arrays and fresh-out-of stealth Starboard Storage and Tegile arrived on the scene with arrays that blend SSDs and hard disk drives (HDD).

HP, however, is taking an all-SSD approach with the P4900.

Addressing SSD Longevity Fears

The company hopes that the P4900 will calm the concerns of IT execs that want the performance benefits of SSDs for their SAN infrastructures but have lingering worries about the solid-state storage technology. “When it comes to SSDs in general, they are great for increasing IOPS and benefiting a business with lower power/cooling requirements. But the bad comes with unknown wear lifespan of the drive,” explains HP product marketing manager Kate Davis in a company blog post.

To remedy this, LeftHand integrated HP-developed firmware that monitors SSD health into the P4000 management dashboard. Called SMARTSSD Wear Gauge, it issues alerts at several points leading up to an SSD’s failure. Combined with drives that feature enterprise-grade flash memory, the team expects that storage admins will warm to its systems.

According to Davis, the arrays are ideal for virtual desktop environments where the goal is achieving snappy performance and avoiding “boot storms.”

The dual-node P4900 is outfitted with 16, 400 GB MLC SAS SSDs and can scale up to 102.4 TB with the addition of single-node P4900 G2 expansion units. It also features 12 GB RAM with network connectivity provided by four 10 GbE iSCSI ports or four 1 GbE iSCSI ports.

Redundancy features include hot-plug power supplies, hot-plug hard drives and an integrated RAID controller with 2 GB of battery-backed cache. RAID support boils down to 5, 6, 10, 10+1 and 10+2.

According to HP, the P4900 supports all major operating systems and hypervisors. Data protection is managed by SAN/iQ snapshots, replication and SmartClone. SAN/iQ thin provisioning maximizes available storage space.

HP’s P4900 is available now and is priced at $199,000 for the 6.4 TB version. The P4900 G2 expansion unit starts at $105,000.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE

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