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Exclusive announcement: SSD-based P4000, the P4900

CartoonCalvin100X100.JPG Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy


With our Global Partner Conference, HP had a series of announcements (most that I hope to talk about in near future like the ProLiant Gen8 and ServiceOne news).  One of the things that didn't get announced because of so much happening - you can only talk about so many things before you get "reporter overload" - is a new member of the HP LeftHand P4000 family, the P4900.  I asked the P4000 product marketing manager Kate Davis, @KateAtHP, to help me out with a blog post since I had a very busy day at VMware PEX, so here's the blog post from Kate announcing the P4900.


By Kate Davis, P4000 Product Marketing Manager


Hello P4900

P4900.jpgHP Storage also has new products out this week. One that I want to highlight today is the new HP P4900 SSD Storage System – an all-solid state addition to the HP LeftHand P4000 SAN portfolio.




The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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. And then it turns downright ugly when traditional dual-controller systems bottleneck the performance that was supposed to be the good part.


A New Day

HP has taken all these sub-optimal characteristics of SAN storage into consideration and has developed a unique SSD platform. The P4900 SSD Storage System is built upon SAN/iQ 9.5 software that released last fall with the addition of new drive monitoring capabilities specific to SSDs. HP has developed its own firmware that monitors the Wear-Gauge.pnghealth of the SSD drive in the system – this is called the HP SMARTSSD Wear Gauge™. The LeftHand team has integrated this information into the P4000 Management Console. You can now see how much life is left on any SSD drive in the P4900 system and it will alert you at several points as it gets closer to death. No more worrying about losing data due to unpredictable drive wear-out and data-loss, like with other vendors in the marketplace today.  Additionally, HP uses enterprise flash drives with extremely long life from day one.


Now to battle the ugly – the LeftHand SAN, by nature, is a scale-out architecture and that allows for the cluster of storage to scale both capacity and performance linearly. That means, with each storage node that is added to the cluster the performance (IOPS) increases along with the growth in the storage pool. Other vendors must build towers of storage behind one or two controllers – LeftHand scales on and on!  No bottlenecks – if you spend the money for an SSD solution you should be able to fully benefit from their power.


Viva Las VSA

Now this isn’t the first support for SSDs from LeftHand – you may or may not know that the LeftHand VSA software has supported SSDs in systems for a few years now. VSA is a great solution for small deployments of SSD drives such as within a virtualized server or for addressing VDI boot storms. With the addition of the P4900 to the lineup, the HP LeftHand portfolio has increased its flexibility. As always, your environment can consist of a variety of P4000 models all managed by a single console. Now you can set up 4 types of P4000 SAN in your environment – VSA (virtual SAN), MDL SAS (capacity), SAS (performance), SSD (high performance) – All models support the Peer Motion capability so that data can easily move across these SANs while remaining online the entire time. Now that is quite beautiful.


The P4900 is offered in 2 configurations:

2-node bundle: P4900 6.4TB SSD Storage System (16x400GB)

1-node expansion: P4900 3.2TB SSD Storage System (8x400GB)


Learn more about the P4900


>> Check out the latest P4000 family QuickSpec that includes the P4900

>> P4000 family page on

>> P4900 product page on

Remy Zandwijk | ‎02-14-2012 08:12 PM

Hi Calvin and Kate.

Thanks for this post, the P4900's look very nice. I would like to test some in our datacenters :-)

A (slightly off-topic?) question though. I often read that Lefthand scales very good. I also read it in this blog: "LeftHand scales on and on". I agree, but up to a certain extent, since I believe there is a point after which you shouldn't add more nodes to a cluster. The help pages in the CMC clearly state: "The optimum number of storage systems in a cluster ranges up to 10. If the cluster contains 11 to 16 storage systems, the Configuration Summary appears orange….. etc.". Basically it says one shouldn't have more then 16 systems in one cluster. So in my opinion, the scaling stops just there.

So, yes, it scales very well when it comes to administrating a lot of nodes from one management console, but no, is doesn't scale that well when it comes to creating very large clusters. Or am I missing a point here?


katedavis | ‎02-15-2012 05:20 PM

Hi Remy,


To answer your clustering question, the P4000's lab tested best practice guidelines are to keep each cluster to 10 - 16 nodes and up to 32 nodes within a management group. Do we have customers that go outside of these guidelines? Of course. That is their choice.


The best practice guidelines come down to simple math. As with any storage system, the more disks you put into that system, the higher the probability of drive failures which leads to a possibility of drive faults in the disk rebuild timeframe and data could be lost. So, we offer guidelines as safety precautions. 


About your comment on LeftHand's ability to scale on and on - this is in reference of LeftHand's scale-out architecture vs a traditional dual-controller system. The full sentence is "Other vendors must build towers of storage behind one or two controllers – LeftHand scales on and on!" Traditional architecture's controllers can produce IOPS up to a certain point. No matter how many drives you put behind them, they bottleneck. For LeftHand, because of the scale-out design there is a controller as well as drive capacity in each node which allows for each cluster to scale linearly in both performance and capacity.


Hope this helps,


nate | ‎03-19-2012 06:10 PM

Not knowing a whole much about P4k, a few questions -

  • Is there any sub LUN auto tiering with these SSDs ?
  • Can you mix in SSDs with regular P4000? Or is SSD support limited to one particular model (and that model having nothing but SSDs)
  • Can the SSDs be used as a caching layer at all?
  • Is Peer motion automated on the P4000 ? I asked HP about automated Peer motion on 3PAR and was told it was not there right now.

I was looking at Compellent recently and was kind of surprised to see their version of peer motion ("live volume") be automated, at least according to their data sheet volumes can be moved around based on I/O load.



(long time 3PAR customer/fan  - still unsure of Lefthand)

| ‎03-20-2012 05:32 AM

Hi Nate - just did a podcast with more details about the P4900 but I'll try to answer what I can now. 

  • There isn't sub-LUN tiering with HP LeftHand; I'm guessing its something the team is looking at but I don't have anything more.
  • The way you mix different classes of storage with the P4000 is by having them in clusters all in the same management group.  You can't mix different drive types in a single node but you absolutely can have multiple drive types in a single HP LeftHand SAN.
  • I don't believe we have the ability to use HP LeftHand SSD as a caching layer - but need to confirm that with the team.
  • Peer Motion isn't automated based on SLA's (like performance or capacity) but I did a video demo showing how easy Peer Motion is (doing a cluster swap or a volume migration) in a blog I have titled "HP LeftHand  P4000 Peer Motion demo". I don't know if the team is looking at automating this (and if I did, I can't say publicly).

I think the combination of HP LeftHand and HP 3PAR give us a very strong mid-range to tier 1 array family.  I have a many posts about HP LeftHand and you can see them all by clicking on the HP LeftHand label on this blog - the labels are listed just after the blog post and before the comments. 



datenrettungfestplatte | ‎01-21-2013 02:00 PM

thanks for the review

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25+ years experience around HP Storage. The go-to guy for news and views on all things storage..

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