3PAR offers service level optimization

By Ann Silverthorn

May 19, 2005 -- 3PAR, the pioneer of thin provisioning, this week announced the availability of a Dynamic Optimization option that provides single-command, online, and non-disruptive service level optimization within the company's InServ disk arrays.

"Dynamic Optimization is as much of a killer application as thin provisioning has been," claims David Scott, president and CEO of 3PAR.

"Dynamic Optimization is unique, because users can provide varying levels of service across four different dimensions dynamically, at any time, " explains Stephanie Balaouras, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group consulting firm. "You can move data back and forth between RAID levels, change the actual geometry of where the data is stored on the disk, change the type of disk the data is stored on, and change the performance levels."

3PAR's Scott says that Dynamic Optimization addresses users' desire to optimize data service levels to minimize costs. The software allows users to assign a quality of service (QoS) level that is most appropriate for each stage of the data's life cycle.

"Administrators can set up templates that define different levels of QoS, like silver, gold, and platinum," says Scott. "Users can transfer an application's data from one QoS level to another in seconds--online and without any performance disruption to applications."

Many companies have applications that peak at specific times of the year in a regular pattern, Scott explains. Typically, they have to provision year-round for peaks, which is not cost-effective. With Dynamic Optimization they can start with, say, a silver level QoS using RAID 5 or 50, and right before the peak is expected to hit, move the QoS to a platinum level using RAID 10. After the demand subsides they can move it back to the silver level.

Service provider SAVVIS, one of 3PAR's customers, will likely be one of the first to deploy Dynamic Optimization. Rob McCormick, SAVVIS CEO, says, "The new feature set enhances our ability to give flexibility to our customers. They might not know whether they need RAID 5 or RAID 10 or fast or slow disk. They may discover after six months that some of their data needs higher performance and that lower performance is adequate for other data. With other arrays, changes are time consuming and you have to take the application down. With 3PAR's separation between logical and physical volumes, we can move data around on the back-end without impacting the application."

McCormick sees the biggest impact of Dynamic Optimization in the migration from high-speed to low-speed disks. Since data can be transparently moved between disk types in the same array, companies can keep more data online rather than migrating it to tape.

3PAR supports high-capacity, high-performance Fibre Channel drives, as well as ATA-class drives. Dynamic Optimization is priced from less than $10,000 for an entry version.

This article was originally published on May 18, 2005