Written by: Randy Kerns, Dave Raffo, and Krista Macomber
HPE GreenLake Storage Strategy
HPE has broadened the scope of GreenLake Storage beyond its original premise of offering an opex buying option for traditional storage, and managing it as a service. The block and file storage systems launched this week are initially available as a capex purchase, with opex options to follow. Customers will be able to choose to pay up front, or through monthly subscriptions.
GreenLake – like Dell Apex, NetApp Keystone, Pure Storage Evergreen and other storage-as-a-service (STaaS) initiatives – sprung up a few years ago to offer cloud-like buying for traditional on-premises products. HPE now positions GreenLake as providing a complete cloud-like experience, with storage provisioned and managed through the cloud even if the products sit on-prem and are paid for in a traditional capex way.
Like other storage vendors, HPE discovered many customers wanted to stay with capex spending. Verticals such as oil and gas companies and U.S. government agencies prefer to pay up front while others embrace the opex model.
HPE isn’t the only storage vendor to expand its STaaS programs. Dell added services and partners to Apex, and now includes customer-managed options. Pure has extended EverGreen to include opex, capex and a mixture of payment models. Others, such as NetApp Keystone, have also made slight alterations.
HPE’s goal is to compete with traditional infrastructure rivals through its new scale-out Alletra Storage MP hardware, which lets customers run block or file on the same platform (but not on the same node), and provides flexibility by offering appliance, controller and capacity models. And HPE intends to compete with hyperscalers by matching their scale and the ability to manage storage through the cloud while giving them the option to run their platforms on-prem. HPE positions GreenLake as a way to allow line of business owners to provision and manage storage faster and more efficiently.
HPE CEO Antonio Neri said HPE is on a “journey to one, under one brand [GreenLake].” That suggests more simplified branding around GreenLake will follow.
HPE Announces Alletra Storage MP – Block and File Storage
The News: HPE has announced Alletra Storage MP, a new storage system with block or file personas. The system is a new hardware platform with loadable software to provide block or file storage. The file storage software is from VAST Data and is a scale out file solution. The block storage software comes from HPE and will be scaled out in subsequent releases, with the initial release a dual node system. Object support from the VAST Data software is not offered. Alletra Storage MP is the product name and while offered as a block or file storage solution, HPE positions this as the underlying storage system for use in GreenLake as GreenLake for Block Storage and GreenLake for File Storage.
The hardware platform is configurable in three forms: a controller, a capacity “node” that uses the same controller chassis with a different processor and NVMe SSDs, and an appliance which is a controller with NVMe SSDs in the same 2U package. There are two “nodes” in a 2U package for Alletra Storage MP. Multiple protocols are supported including 100 Gigabit Ethernet for NVMe-oF/TCP, Fibre Channel, and NVMe-oF/FC. For scale out configurations, the node interconnect is done 100GigE RoCE and RNICs in the nodes.
Offered as GreenLake for Block Storage and GreenLake for File Storage, the consumption as a service model of GreenLake uses Alletra Storage MP hardware with either the block or file personas combined with the unified GreenLake management. The personalities of block or file are downloaded onto the hardware when installed.
GreenLake for Block Storage supports 368TB per node of raw capacity and does include compression and deduplication to increase the effective capacity. GreenLake for File Storage supports 154TB to 3.4PB of raw capacity in a 2-switch fabric with advanced deduplication and compression and can scale to 48 enclosures in a 10-switch fabric.
VAST Data software is the file persona with GreenLake for File Storage. Currently, block and file cannot be operational on the same Alletra Storage MP system at the same time. HPE makes decisions on which VAST Data features and updates will be incorporated into GreenLake for File Storage.
HPE GreenLake for Backup and Recovery
HPE GreenLake for Disaster Recovery
HPE GreenLake also encompasses data protection service. HPE GreenLake, which is based on HPE’s StoreOnce Catalyst software, became generally available in 2022, and HPE GreenLake for disaster recovery, based on the Zerto technology that HPE acquired in late 2021, will be generally available in June. Both solutions are delivered as SaaS with centralized management via the GreenLake control plane. Data protection services are added based policies that have been pre-defined by administrators, as the production environment being protected is configured. Resources being protected and target infrastructures are both automatically discovered.
The ultimate objective is to streamline configuration and management tasks as much as possible, allow administrators to define their service level objectives (SLOs) – RPO, recovery point objective, or how much data loss can be tolerated, and RTO, recovery time objective, or how much downtime can be tolerated – and allow the GreenLake service console to handle the rest. While that vision is not yet entirely in execution, and ultimately IT Operations will still desire and require a level of ultimate control, it already helps to address one of the most pressing issues impacting IT teams today – limited staff resources. This is especially a problem in the data protection space, as an increasingly complex mixture of multi-, hybrid-cloud environments need to be protected without getting in the way of developer and business agility.
An area of opportunity for HPE is to utilize its relationship with Vast for file storage services. According to Vast, it is helping a number of customers to make flash affordable for data protection use cases, via its data efficiency technologies. This could be a differentiator in ransomware recovery scenarios, which require very fast recovery times.
Analyst Take: HPE has made a major move for storage with directionally changing to a scale out architecture offering both block and file personals as software on a new hardware platform. While the hardware does have the appearance of standard HPE servers, there is uniqueness in the configuration and in how the hardware is identified in a GreenLake environment. It is important to note that there will be some different configuration requirements for GreenLake for Block Storage and GreenLake for File Storage.
Partnering with VAST Data gives HPE a high-performance NAS solution, something very much needed in their storage portfolio. This will also be very welcomed by HPE resellers. For VAST Data, this gives the go to market opportunity of the HPE channel and should be highly beneficial. VAST Data will not have to build out an extensive channel now. As with VAST Data, HPE will probably focus on the rapidly growing market for file storage of analytics data and backup. Not offering object from VAST Data at this point is probably a good idea, keeping the focus on making GreenLake for File Storage successful first, while HPE has a successful object offering from Scality.
The GreenLake for Block Storage / Alletra Storage MP with the block storage persona will appear to customers to be a continuation of the Alletra platforms based on Nimble until the new scale out capabilities are available. Scale out to four nodes is expected after initial release and to eight nodes in a subsequent release. It would have been more impressive to have that at the initial launch but it is clear that HPE is committed to deliver.
I would say that the focus on storage by HPE is very important for customers and for HPE’s plans to make GreenLake an all-encompassing hybrid cloud including storage offerings. Customers will also look to Alletra Storage MP to update or replace their existing HPE storage systems.
No performance information for Alletra Storage MP has been released at this point.
Disclosure: Evaluator Group, wholly owned by The Futurum Group, is a research and analyst firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article. Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually.